Disaster of a Picnic

Picnics can be a whole lot of fun. Imagine a group of people gathered around the table eating food that different ones had prepared. Grandma’s potato salad is legendary. Jack’s terrific at the barbeque. Kathy makes to-die-for macaroni salad and Pat’s lemon meringue pies are a hit everywhere.

Board games are played. Cards come out. The younger kids play volleyball or kickball or go wade in the lake. Birds chirp. Dogs bark. Laughter surrounds you until something goes wrong.

As a writer these are the moments that enliven stories for they allow us to create situations where conflict and tension drive the plot forward.

Your task is to write a scene in which things begin to unravel. It could be that Joe pulls out a flask and taints the lemonade. Or perhaps the mayonnaise in the salads spoils in the hot sun. Perhaps a little one runs into a pole and…well, you get the idea.

Sensory details are important if you want your readers engaged.  They want to hear, see, taste, touch and smell the things going on around them as they participate in this picnic. Bring in dialogue as well so that readers can observe as the group unravels.

Have fun with this one.

The Storm

Imagine that it is raining. Not a soft, gentle rain, but a downpour that rattles the windows and creates floods of water overflowing banks and filling gutters.

Imagine your character inside, sitting by the window, watching it all happen. She sees leaves torn from trees that bend, almost touching the ground. She sees branches break and tumble across the lawn. She watches people who run with newspapers over their heads, getting soaked as they dash from the shelter of one building to the next.

In your story, worse things happen. Think of the news stories that you have seen on television. Recall the devastation that follows. The homes destroyed. Cars carried away. Lives lost.

Write that story from your character’s point of view. You can choose first person, if that works for you. Describe the emotions your character feels as the storm impacts his life. What goes through his mind. What he wants to save and what he chooses to leave behind. Be careful not to make a list. Instead, weave it into the description, piece by piece, paragraph by paragraph.

This will not be an easy to story to write as we don’t like to write about those things that we fear. Tackle it anyway, for it will push you beyond your comfort zone.

The important thing to remember is that bad things happen to good people and those stories deserve telling.

Good luck!