After searching for a new shirt, you find one in your size that fits. You carry it to the register, already picturing how wonderful you’ll look wearing it. You hand the clerk your card. It fails to go through.

             The payment is due on your car insurance. You use your credit card. It supposedly has insufficient funds.

            Embarrassed is too mild a word to describe how you feel.

            Your task is to write a story in which your character attempts to spend money using a credit card, but is denied. This story needs to shows the range of emotions that she goes through. There might be disbelief at the beginning, followed by hopefulness. Possibly anger. Frustration. Definitely embarrassment.

            Begin with the setting: place and time. Readers need to be there as he selects the items for purchase or is waiting in line to pay at a service center. The story could take place at a supermarket, car repair shop or insurance office.

            There will be dialogue between your character and whoever is processing the payment.

            Have fun with this one.

Forgettable Memory

Not all memories are good ones. All of us can recall at least one incident that embarrassed us, humiliated us or angered us. Or maybe it was something we did that we wish we never had.

Think of the story this could become! Fill in with sensory details and it becomes rich and full of life.

Your task is first to make a list of five events that you wish had never happened. Then choose the one which would be the easiest for you to write about.

When you write, embellish with dialogue and details. There must be tension, so bring in a person that enriches the telling.

Have fun with this one.

A Time When You got Lost

Imagine that you are driving to an unfamiliar place before GPS appeared on your phone. You’ve got a map and so far, everything has gone fine. The exit appeared when you expected it to, the street to turn right on showed up within blocks. But after the left turn, you are not where you were supposed to be.

Instead of office buildings, you are in a housing development where junk litters every yard and groups of young men laze about porch steps. A drunk stumbles down the street, weaving in and out of a row of old cars parked along the curb.

You don’t know what went wrong.

Your task is to tell that story. Your readers will want to be with you, from when you happily left home until that feeling of being lost washes over you.

It’s important to include emotions, for without them, there is no story. We want to feel your happiness, satisfaction, then fear. We want to be with you as you navigate your way out of the mess.

Have fun with this one.

A Time When You Had no Voice

Many of our memories come from times that hurt us or made us cry. Not having a voice is one. Don’t think about when laryngitis stole your voice, but when someone chided you or told you to be quiet.

The first time might have been when you were quite young. For example, a teacher called on you to answer a question and then didn’t like your response. How did that make you feel?

Maybe it occurred at home. You used words that angered your parent and were disciplined in response. What was your reaction? Did you quit talking? Or continue to speak your mind even though it caused more criticism to come your way?

Your task is to describe that time in your life when you were silenced, for whatever reason. Place yourself in the setting, then describe it in such a way that your readers will know where you are and what you are doing.

You can write from your memories or create a scenario when something similar happened to your protagonist. The important thing is to evoke those emotions that arose. The reader needs to feel the pain, the hurt, the frustration, the anger.

Reread. If those feelings do not come forth, then add details to enhance the experience.

Have fun with this one.

Parental Interference

As kids, especially as young adults, our parents often embarrass us. They speak when we wish they were silent. They wear dumb hats or clothes so out of style that even thrift stores wouldn’t want them. Or their clothes are faded, ragged or torn. Or spotted with paint or cooking grease.

Our parents want to know who are friends are, where they live, what they like to do, what kinds of music they listen to and what they do for fun, all before we can go hang out with them. Or when a friend knocks at the door, our parents treat them like unwanted guests, giving them a thorough oral examination while you’re trying to gather together your stuff and get out of the house.

On gift-giving opportunities, they present us with things we never asked for, never wanted, and expect us to act grateful. They demand we complete chores that are gross and demeaning, such as doing dishes in the sink where the water gets tainted with food remnants and grease, all because they think doing such things help develop character.

They make us babysit younger brothers and sisters without pay. It’s not too bad if the sibling behaves in public, but when your sister pesters everyone about their favorite Disney character or sings, out of tune, Disney songs, then you’d rather stay home. But if you do, then they insist that your friends come over and hang out with your dorky brother who thinks it’s perfectly fine to jump up from behind the couch and scare your boyfriend.

Your task is to write a scene in which there is either an embarrassing moment with a parent or guardian, or a time when a sibling causes great humiliation.

First, make a list of things parents/guardians do that are embarrassing. Then make a comparable list for siblings. Running parallel to each list, record the scene, the object, the action that causes humiliation.

Draw a line from the person to the point of humiliation that you feel most comfortable writing about.

This becomes your story line.

Write, trying to show the emotions that propel your protagonist forward. Your story can be humorous or serious, depending upon the cause of the humiliation. For example, falling out of a tree can be embarrassing at the moment that it occurs, but if bones are broken, then the final result is quite serious.

After you’re finished, reread, looking for places where you can intensify the emotional impact.

Have fun with this one.