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.

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.

Focus on Space

            Look about the room in which you are currently in. What’s on the walls? What kind of furniture? Does everything match or is it a hobnob collection? Is it comfortable or functional?

Think about another space, such as workplace or favorite coffee shop. Picture them in your mind. How would you describe them?

Imagine that you are in a space that holds memories, either good or bad. How did the room smell? What triggered your emotional reactions? Did the quality of light affect your feelings?

Your task is to write a story, either real or imagined, that takes place in the space which most resonates with you. People it with folks that interact with you or your protagonist.

Include not just descriptions, although they are important to setting the tone, but also dialogue that evokes the emotions that you want to resonate.

Reread looking for places where you can add additional details and conversation.

Have fun with this one.

“First” Weather Event

This is a good activity whether you are writing about yourself or about your character.

Working from your memory can often become fodder for a greater story, or a chapter in a novel. It’s been written that we should write what we know, so what better place to begin than from things we experienced?

Your task is to make a list of “firsts” in terms of weather. For example, the first snowfall, first tornado warning, first flood. Do you see any themes running through them all? Think about your feelings as you were in the midst of each. Think about your reactions, whether they be fear, joy, or even the no-reaction.

Which makes the best story? Choose that one and write.

Remember that it can be memoir or fiction.

Reread looking for emotional reactions and details.

Have fun with this one.

What did the Villain do?

If you’re a fan of thriller books and movies, you’ve seen a lot of evil. There’s always at least one villain who plans and executes a crime against an individual or a group of people. Sometimes people die. Sometimes they are horribly maimed. Sometimes they suffer life-changing mutilations. In all cases the victims suffer.

Your task is to choose a modus operandi for your villain to put into operation. Makes sure it is something that your villain has the capability and knowledge to execute. For example, if your villain is strong, then a murder by strangling, stabbing or beating is plausible. If electronics are involved, then the villain must have technological knowledge. If firearms are involved, the reader might need to know how the villain learned to shoot.

Here is a list of possible crimes. Choose on that you feel most comfortable putting in a story.

___ smoke inhalation              ___ beaten to death                ___burying alive

___ drowning (intentionally)  ___ hanging                            ___killing by machine gun fire

___poisoning                           ___ pushing in front of train  ___ running down with car/truck

___ shot with pistol/rifle         ___ slit throat/slashing            ___smothering

___ single stab/multiple stabbing                                            ___strangling

As you write, remember to include not just details, but emotions. We need to feel the villain’s and victim’s emotions.

Have fun with this one.

The Saddest Time

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every day was happy? Year after year nothing but good things cross your path. However, that isn’t realistic.

Because sadness hurts, we often push those memories so deep in our brains that they lie hidden. Until something or someone an event brings them forward.

There are endless possibilities. A betrayal. Broken heart. An abusive parent, sibling or spouse. Death. Destruction from fire, flood or earthquake.

Your task is to write a scene in which your character reveals her saddest event. Perhaps this is done through dialogue, for that would allow a give-and-take. Regardless of how you choose to write this, the important thing is that the reader feel the heartache, the despair.

This will not be a fun story to write as it might touch on events in your life.

Have fun with this one.