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.

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.

Guilty Pleasures

Does chocolate call your name? Is it challenging to walk past a box without opening and taking just one piece? Maybe it’s cookies that you love. Imagine a tray of oatmeal raisin cookies fresh out of the oven. The smell that fills the kitchen is so enticing that you reach for one.

Maybe it’s a lemon bar treat, or red velvet cake or a bit of mint ice cream. Whatever it is, you know you shouldn’t eat it because of the calorie count, but you can’t resist.

The problem is that once you take that first bite, guilty pleasure washes over you. You relish every morsel despite that overwhelming feeling of failure.

What pleasures can’t your character resist? What calls his name so strongly that he can’t walk away?

Your task is to write the story of temptation. It will be important for readers to see the item through the character’s eyes, smell it through his nose, feel the internal conflict as he reaches for it, enjoy the taste in his mouth. Once he’s finished, we want to participate in the emotions that he struggles with. To build tension, more items remain. Will he take another or walk away?

Have fun with this one.

Remembering the First Day

Do you recall your first day of school? Were you nervous? Excited? A little of both? What did you think would happen? What were our worst fears?

Apply this to your first day at a new job. Try to remember how you felt as the day approached. What preparations did you make? Did you go through your wardrobe looking for the right outfit? Did you fill your backpack with pens, pencils, notebooks and a new calendar? What software did you put on your laptop?

When the day arrived and you entered the office, what happened? Were you greeted by your coworkers? Did the boss walk you around and introduce you? Who  explained the job duties?

Your task is to write a scene in which your character begins something new. It could be work or school, but she must exhibit a range of emotions as the day nears. One way to show this is through dialogue. Have her explain to a friend what she’s thinking about. Maybe the friend is in her class or works for the same company. Make it fun and interesting so that your readers will want to be engaged.

Have fun with this one.

Shopping Spree

Some of us are avid shoppers. We’ll travel distances for a good bargain. We sort through racks of clothes and other items in search of the perfect thing. We’ll try on a dozen garments to buy just one. For us, shopping is an outing.

There are those who detest shopping. They only enter a department store for special gifts. They know what they want, head straight to it, buy it and leave. Even when grocery shopping they go with a list that they strictly follow.

What about your character? What kind of shopper is she? Does she love the adventure or rush in and out happy to get it done?

Your task is to write a scene in which your character enters a store. It might be fun to have someone accompany him so that there is reflection through dialogue. Readers want to experience the store and the outing with the emotions of the character.

Make sure there are plenty of details. Perhaps there is canned music piped in. How does this make the character feel? Maybe items aren’t where they should be or the proper size and color are missing. Maybe cost is too high.

If he’s a bargain shopper, what items attract his attention? What goes in his cart and stays? What motivates him in his decision-making?

Enjoy writing this one. Reread to edit for details.

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.

Thanskgivings

There are times to celebrate all the good things that have come our way. Times to rejoice, to laugh, to pray, to give thanks.

Some choose to spend their personal thanksgivings with others, while others prefer being alone in order to quietly contemplate the positive things in their lives.

What type is your character?

Your task is to create two lists: one to list the types of things to celebrate alone, the second those that are best shared in the company of others.

From the lists choose which is easiest for you to put into a scene. Remember that emotional details are important because readers want to walk in the mind and heart of the characters.

Write the story. Dialogue might be crucial here so as to best relay what the characters are thinking and feeling.

When you reread look for tells that allow you to see into your characters’’ emotions. If they are missing, add them in.

Have fun with this one.