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.

Surprise Twists

Stories that are too predictable are boring unless they are written for a little kid. Children find the repetition, the expected end result, comforting in a way that teens and adults might find downright unsatisfactory.

When you’re crafting a story, watch your endings. It’s okay if the good woman wins, but along the way there should be unexpected twists that throw the reader off.

For example, you know the woman will fall in love with the account executive, but put some angst in the story. Maybe they disagree over something huge, like how to behave at a party or how to dress for a day at the beach. The woman overdresses while the man underdresses.

That’s probably not big enough to cause angst. What if a former girlfriend shows up? Imagine the problems that would create. The man looks at her with a sparkle in his eye. Maybe he touches her in a way that implies their former romance. The current girlfriend sees it, becomes enraged and stomps away.

Maybe the woman loves the man, but he has no intentions of leaving his home while she’s been offered a job in New York City. The job is almost too big to pass up as it’s the job she’s always wanted. Maybe the city where the man lives is so tiny that the woman can’t find a comparable job within commuting distance.

How do they reconcile the differences?

Readers will want to know, and so will read on.

Your task is to pull up an old story of yours. Reread it looking for the surprise twist. If there is none, what can you add to ratchet up the tension?

If there is, how long did you string the tension along before resolving the issue? Make sure that there is sufficient angst to make readers edgy.

Have fun with this one!

The Electricity Goes Out

Imagine life without electricity in the contemporary world. We would be angry, frustrated and bored. We could not access our landline phones, television or radio. We could not cook and keeping things cold could be a serious problem. Those of us lucky enough to own electric cars could not charge them.

This is the problem that arises in your next story. This does not take place in the past when rugged individuals knew nothing about the joys of electricity.

Set up your scene and introduce your character in an interesting way. Then the power goes out and stays off not just for hours, but days. Think of the passage of time and how the character feels as each minute, each day passes with no change.

Describe the emotional state of your character as well as what the individual does to survive. Think about the senses. Smells. Sights. Taste. Touch.

Have fun with this one.

Good luck.