The Big Proposal

Do you recall the day that your significant other proposed? Where did it happen? How did you react? What did you tell others after it happened?

Some of us prefer quiet, gentle proposals while others want something huge and dramatic. Imagine the proposal on the jumbo-tron at a baseball game. What if you weren’t in love with that person? With thousands watching, if you decline, think of the resounding hiss!

Your task is to write the story that shows the scene played out, in glorious details, for your chosen protagonist. You can choose to write from the POV of the one doing the proposing or the one being asked. Readers will want to see it played out from inception of the idea to the end result.

One place to begin is by making a list of potential scenarios. Think from minimalistic to grandiose. Narrow it down to the one that you feel most comfortable writing, the one that best suits your character’s personality, the one that makes the most exciting scene.

Have fun with this one.

Hit Refresh

Have you ever wanted to get a new start? Let’s say that a relationship that you’d like to develop began with you saying or doing something dumb. If you could get a do-over, what would change?

Think back to when you began your current career. If you could, would you go back and head in a different direction? If so, why? What choice would you make today?

Just as you might enjoy getting a fresh start, so will your protagonist.

Your task is to imagine a scene that went badly. Write it, in all its gory details. How does your character react to the choices she made? As she reflects, what plan of action does she come up with to change the trajectory of her poor decisions?

Write that as well. Readers will want to suffer with her as she analyzes what she did that’s upsetting and as she attempts to make things right. Details are crucial. Readers want to see her face turn red, hear the pace of her breathing change, feel her tears as she suffers.

When you are finished, reread looking for tension, conflict, reflection and change.

Have fun with this one.

Tis the season, right? Stores are stocked with wondrous items that everyone you know must want. Commercials air hourly enticing you to wish for, to yearn for, that special something that only a loved one can give.

You can’t escape the pressure. You are expected to surprise folks with the best gift, handpicked just for them. You spend hours agonizing over ads, magazines and online sites. And then you wait for a gushing thanks.

Imagine your character going through this process. Where does he look? How hard does he search? How soon before the big date does he shop? What does he buy?

Your task is to write the story of the search, the choice and the giving. Remember that there must be tension to have a viable story, something that someone wants to read. To do this, think of all the things that can go wrong. Perhaps the item is out of stock and won’t be available until too late. Or maybe the correct size in the perfect color is sold out.

And then there’s the emotional impact of choosing. What goes through his mind? How anxious is he?

Will the recipient open the gift in the giver’s presence? That might change the choice of gift as well as increase tension.

Have fun with this one.

Unexpected Package

While I was out and about today I package came that my husband did not expect. He was overjoyed when he realized the vendor. He quickly put the meat selections in the freezer and is looking forward to cooking them.

How do you feel when something unexpected arrives at your door?  Is it with joy of discovery or dread, not knowing to whom you might owe a favor? And once it is opened, do your emotions change? If so, why?

Your task is to write a story in which a surprise package arrives for your character. This can be based on a real event that occurred in your life or completely fictionalized. What’s important is to describe the thoughts and emotions that your character experiences.

We want to see, from beginning to end, how it transpires.

This does not have to be a long piece, but could eventually be part of a larger story.

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.

Writing From Experience

Another technique to use when you can’t think of a story to tell, is to write from a specific incident in your life.

For example, write about the time you were betrayed by another. This could have taken place when you were a child, or when you were in high school, or even as an older adult. You want to choose something that had an impact on who you are today.

If you are not writing about yourself, but rather a character in your story, choose an occurrence in her life that would have a comparable impact.

Your task is to first create a list of events that you might be able to write about. For example:

  1. Your first experience in deep water.
  2. The first time someone asked you out and the date that followed.
  3. Your first pet. This can be your initial reaction to it, your feelings over time, how devastating it was when it died.
  4. The time when you met someone who later became important in your life.

Once you have created your list, or working from the one above, write the story. Try to include as many details as you can, making sure that you tickle the senses. If you are writing about yourself, but you really wanted to use the details in a fictional story, then rewrite those parts that change the point of view.

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.