A Different Kind of Vampire

            Vampires suck blood out of their victims, right? But what if they didn’t? What would vampires need to stay “alive” then?

            Would it be possible for them to enjoy a nice, cold glass of milk? Perhaps with a dollop of chocolate stirred in? Or maybe they’d like hot chocolate with marshmallows mixed in?

            Your task is to think of an alternative that changes the vampire narrative. If they don’t need blood, then they won’t drain victims of blood, killing them. They wouldn’t change their victims into vampires either.

            Consider what a vampire needs to sustain itself. That means there should be something nutritional about what they consume. That rules our soda unless it’s accompanied by some type of food that provides the vitamins and minerals that vampires need.

            Once you’ve settled on a “food”, then create the scene and situation that shows the vampire procuring and enjoying the drink.

            Have fun with this one.

Power Sources

            In the beginning, foot power made things work. Think about women sitting in front of some type of device designed to make something. There would have been a foot pedal to make it spin, twirl or weave. Water then became a source, being used to grind wheat, mash seeds to create oil, or to move logs from one place to another.

            Ponies were attached to a tether and walked around and around all day long, day after day, turning a wheel. Eventually coal was used to power huge electricity generating plants. As time passed wind and solar power were incorporated into the grid. Even nuclear power was harnessed.

            When you’re creating a setting, you must take into account where your world is on the spectrum of possibilities. If burning wood is the only source, only certain types of machinery are able to operate. If nuclear power is used, a wider range is available.

            Your task is to write a scene in which the source of power comes into play. Perhaps it’s just been employed and the characters are terrified, surprised or both. Maybe there’s a breakdown that has the potential to cause catastrophic events to occur. Dialogue and narrative are both critical.

            Have fun with this one.

Crime and Punishment

            Back in the Middle Ages there were beheadings and amputations for what today would be considered minor crimes. People would be whipped so badly that little skin remained on their backs. Others would be locked into stocks and left to die.

Torture and imprisonment was sued to exact confessions. People were beaten burned alive, covered with boiling water, or worse, tar, and fingers cut off. Branding was also used to identify criminals.

Outlaw bands roamed about, robbing villagers and city-dwellers alike. The harsher the crimes they committed, the worse the punishment. What’s more important is that the punishments were public affairs, much like going on a picnic or seeing a play.

Your task is to establish the role that crime and punishment takes in your world. You can borrow from earlier times or create your own system, but whichever you choose, it needs to make sense in terms of the society you have built. Medieval torture might not fit in a contemporary society, but maybe it does!

Write a story in which a crime is committed and punishment is doled out. Readers will want to be there from the beginning, to walk with the criminal throughout it all. Or if you write from the perspective of the officials who hunt down, catch and then punish, make sure that the details are intriguing enough to entice readers.

Have fun with this one.

Rebellion

            Imagine a scenario where the citizens are upset with the ruling power. They’ve been tortured, imprisoned, forced to work in unsafe conditions and have little to eat. There is no hope for improvement as long as the current leaders are in power.

            Attempts to negotiate have repeatedly failed. Rumor has it that an assassination is in the works, so armed military patrols the streets. It’s a dire situation.

            Many stories have been written using this scenario as a base for sowing discord. Given a chance to write the story, how would yours differ?

            Your task is to develop a scene in which rebellion is looming. Is it coming within the ranks of the aristocracy or from the peasants? Is it in a single city or throughout the empire? Who is leading the rebellion?  Disenfranchised royals? Defecting soldiers?

            What is the desired result and who would step up and be in charge assuming the rebellion is successful? What changes would be enacted, and would those be acceptable to all?

            How many would die and what weapons would be used? Does magic come into play?

            There are many things to consider to make this story stand out.

            Have fun with this one.

Contested Boundaries

All throughout the history of our world rulers have lead incursions into neighboring countries, seizing land, and changing boundaries in order to seize valuable natural resources or to gain access to water routes. Often the battles have been fierce with both sides losing hundreds of warriors.

To the victors went the spoils which included family treasures, verdant fields and the virginity of women. All was justified under the loose definition of what constitutes victory.

Close your eyes and imagine what that world must have been like: living in fear, burying valuables in the fields, constantly running and hiding. What story comes to mind?

Your task is to write a story in which one army invades a country.  First decide the setting, which includes place and time. Equip your army with weapons of war and then send them on their way. Will your army be victorious or not? Use narrative to describe the scene and the action, but include dialogue as well so readers can understand how your characters are thinking and feeling.

Gore is okay if that’s what you want to write, but a humiliating defeat is just as terrible without blood and guts.

Have fun with this one.

Code of Conduct

A code of conduct is a set of rules that outlines the norms of behavior, the responsibilities and proper practices of an individual within a society or organization. It sets what behaviors are considered acceptable and which are not. Many of these are written in the form of laws for which punishments are enacted if an individual chooses to break the code. However, many are unwritten, such as not spitting on the playground, cleaning up after yourself and not trampling the flowers in your neighbor’s garden.

Knights of yore had codes that defined behaviors that they couldn’t do, such as not slaughtering civilians, taking care of their steeds and those of their opponents when captured, and communicating effectively for the benefit of all. They also couldn’t make an opponent suffer needlessly and if someone, even a brethren, was fleeing, to kill them swiftly and mercilessly.

Your task is to list a series of codes of conduct for your society. Once you have a sufficient amount, you will write a story in which someone breaks the code. The offense could take place within a powerful modern-day company or in a fantasy world based loosely on the Middle Ages.

Once the code is broken, what happens next decides where the story goes. The offending person could be your protagonist who willingly made the choice because it conflicted with a personal belief system or it could be an entire army that refuses to follow a command that it deems offensive. Conflict arises which leads to tension. As it is resolved, your protagonist might have to make decisions affecting her ability to survive.

Have fun with this one.

Functional Infrastructure

Infrastructure is the combined facilities and structures that a society needs for its economy to function. It includes bridges, roads, telecommunications systems, water and sewage systems and electrical grids. Airports, tunnels, hospitals, lighthouses, public schools, parks and other public spaces also fall under the umbrella of infrastructure. The degree to which each is developed tells a lot about that society.

A primitive society might have dirt roads and wooden dams while a technologically advanced community would employ systems that perhaps have yet to be developed.

When creating the setting for your story, these elements might not play a major role, but they could. Imagine if an earthquake breaks the walls of a dam and water pours down river, flooding cities in its wake. Perhaps the local hospital is so overrun with accident victims that additional cases have to be transported to other communities.

Your task is to create a story in which something happens that threatens an element of the infrastructure. Begin by settling on the one event that you feel the most comfortable writing about. Place your characters in the scene, taking into consideration how the event will affect each and how they will react, realizing that people behave differently when threatened.

You can start with the disaster right from the beginning, or establish the “normal” world so that readers understand what life was like before things went wrong. Dialogue and narrative are both important. Narrative puts readers into the heart of the action while dialogue exposes the fears, the concerns, the reactions of characters in the story.

Have fun with this one.

Tell Me a Story

Storytelling requires imagination to create worlds and people that add interest, depth and tension. Gauging the audience is one way to determine which elements to emphasize. Young children love a bit of tension but want happy endings. Teens love violent and potentially deadly encounters and don’t mind if a minor character dies along the way.

Recall a time when you were asked to tell a story. What popped into your mind? A fairy princess and a dragon? A fierce warrior and an evil wizard? Did the story begin with a placid description of the scene and major characters? At what point did the quest begin and who was the hero on the quest?

Your task is to write a story that you might one day share with someone. Begin by defining the audience by age and preference for type of story. Then design the setting and establish the primary characters.

Next is the call to action, the point when someone, perhaps a queen, sends the hero out to conquer or retrieve something that endangers the kingdom or whose disappearance alters the fate of the world as it is. Along the way challenges arise. What are they? How does the hero overcome each? Is the hero hurt? If so, how does this impact her ability to continue the pursuit?

Is the hero successful? Not all heroes are, but when they fail, sometimes they are still honored and respected simply for the act of trying. What is the prize and does the hero earn it?

Have fun with this one.

Magical Beings

Think about a fantasy story that intrigued you. The images that come to mind will encompass the elements of the world itself (the setting), the characters and their quests (heroes and antagonists) and the magical beings that either help or hinder the success of the quest.

While not all fantasy includes faeries and other such creatures, many do, especially those for younger readers. Belief in alternate realities inspires many children to explore different types of stories.

If you intend to write fantasy, one factor that you need to consider is how to populate your world. Will there only be humans in conflict with other humans as they attempt to find or steal some type of object (such as the Holy Grail)? Or will orcs, wargs, ogres, wizards, trolls and other magical beings participate in the telling? If so, how will they enrich the story?

Your task is to write a story in which at least one type of being plays a major role. First do some research to discover the known options. If none of them appeal to you, create your own by beginning with its physical appearance and then by bestowing a combination of uses and powers.

How will the presence of this being influence the story? Will it be friend or foe to your protagonist? In what ways will it affect the telling? It can either move the action forward or slow it down by presenting obstacles for your character.

Have fun with this one.

Scientific Challenges

Back in ancient times, science was not well-developed or respected. One reason was because scientists were seen to be heretics in conflict with the teachings of the church. Eventually the church realized that the medical advancements were important to improve the lives of their members.

The Roman Empire changed attitudes toward research and development. Studies lead to inventions, theories and scientific research. For example, Romans created the first system of plumbing to remove waste. They built aqueducts using arches, designed a primitive cooling system using the hollow spaces in columns and concrete to strengthen buildings.

How a society looks at science influences beliefs and practices. A progressive nation might revere scientists and place their research on a pedestal, while developing country might utilize science to enhance agricultural output.

Your task is to write a story in which science plays an important role. Narrative will be important for setting the scene, but dialogue will allow readers to see how science fits into that world. Your story can take place in the past or future, it can be realistic or fantastical.

Have fun with this one.