A Hike in the Park

The day begins beautifully. The sun is shining, the sky blue, the temperature mild. With water and sunglasses you head into the woodsy park, intent on reaching the top of the peak because you’ve heard of the sweeping views of the bay. But on the way something happens.

Imagine your worst-case scenario. Perhaps there’s a rut in the trail and when you’re watching a deer bound down a hill, you step in it and twist your ankle. It might be broken or badly sprained, but whatever the cause, there is no way you can hike out without help.

Maybe you encounter a mountain lion, coyote or bear. It snarls and flashes huge teeth. You can’t go forward as it’s blocking your way.

Think of the stories to tell!

Your task is to send your character on a hike that begins benignly but then takes a bad turn. She might be in terrible peril or she might be stunned or injured. The one requirement is that she must be afraid and unable to proceed without help.

To make the story more interesting, you should have at least two characters so that there can be dialogue. Conversation will allow us to see the situation through words spoken.

Remember to include details as this is a story that demands sensory input to enable your readers to be there and experience the situation alongside the characters.

Have fun with this one.

The Antisocial Teen

A surly teenager hurls insults at her mother and stomps upstairs, slamming her door behind her. This time it’s because Mom won’t let her go to an unsupervised party at an older boy’s house. Last week it was because Mom refused to pay for body piercings, and a few days before that it was an argument over the skimpy outfit the daughter intended to wear to school.

The son of a single man steals his dad’s precious 1964 hot rod and wraps it around a tree. The boy blames a deer, raccoon and a drunken friend, none of which amuse Dad. The teen is failing most of his classes due to absences and disciplinary problems. On top of that the kid only wears black: t-shirts, hoodies, jeans, shoes, socks and has three earrings on his right lobe.

Both stories speak about not just familial issues, but social ones as well. The kids seem to have made poor choices in friends and the parents, while doing their best, are struggling.

Your task is to write a story about an antisocial teenager. You might want to do a little research into issues facing teens in whatever time period you choose. Also consider exploring parenting tips and what types of counseling is available.

Obviously there will be a lot of drama, a lot of tension, and tons of conflict possibilities. Don’t put too much in one scene as then it’s over the top and too hard for readers to process. Consider spacing events out as the story progresses. Remember that dialogue and actions are important. This will not be a happy story, so make the best of it that you can.

Have fun with this one.

Handling Grief

Until we’ve lost a loved one, we don’t know how we’ll handle the loss. We might be the wailing type or the silent weeper. We might be stoic, telling ourselves that he had suffered long enough or that he’s now in a better place.

We might clear out the closet the day after the funeral or hand onto every piece of clothing she wore for several years, clinging to the memories of times who wore each item. We might not want to sleep in the bed we’d shared or remain in the house we bought or we might replace everything that reminds of us her in order to move on.

Your character experiences loss as well. Imagine a scene in which a loved one dies. Taking into consideration your character’s personality, how will she react? It might be completely in “character” or she might surprise readers by doing something completely unexpected.

Begin by listing two different possible reactions. Next to each, make bullet points of behaviors that match. In the next column list behaviors that are the opposite. Think about which combination makes the most interesting story. Write, remembering that for readers to “see” emotional reactions there most likely has to be some dialogue. Include sufficient details to enrich the story.

Have fun with this one.

Fierce Desire

Can you recall a time when you wanted something so badly that thinking about consumed your thoughts? It was something so special, so dear, so precious that you couldn’t imagine life without it. It might not have been expensive, but it would be worth millions to you.

Who did you tell about it? How did you describe it? What was the waiting like?

When you asked for it, what was the reaction? Did you hear snickers or laughter? Did you receive promises that were never kept? Or did you get the item?

How long did you have to wait? Was it months? For a special day?

Your task is to write a scene in which your character desperately wants something. It can be something small or something large. It can be relatively inexpensive or something that costs quite a bit.

Begin with the discovery of the item. Where did he see it? Why does he want it? How does he see his life changing with it?

This might be a difficult story to write because most of it will take place inside the character’s head. Dialogue will help, however. In fact, it might be good to have your character express desire to a number of different individuals so as to see how each reacts.

Have fun with this one.

Handling Controversy

Many issues arise that require us to take a stand either for or against. For example, when younger perhaps a bully intimidated a peer. You might walk away and leave the victim to suffer alone. Or maybe you stepped in between the two and demanded that the teasing stop. Your actions depend upon how you normally handle adversity and those actions say a lot about you.

Your character’s reactions depend upon her personality. If she’s easygoing, she might laugh it off and make light of the issue. If she’s temperamental, she might explode and lash out, loudly stating her opinions. If she’s meek, she might duck her head and sit silently while the controversy swirls about her.

Your task is to write a scene in which a conflict arises and your character reacts. Begin by establishing scene peopled by a few individuals that are known. Dialogue is critical for without it, the controversy would not come to light. Details enrich the scene. We want to feel the tension, smell the sweat, taste the fear, see the reactions.

This will not be a happy scene but it will reveal quite a bit about your character.

Have fun with this one.

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.