A Thoughtful Gift

What goes through your mind when you choose a gift for someone?

Do you think of what kinds of things the person likes and already owns? Do you try to come up with something she’s never had before to the best of your knowledge?

What items do you look for? Food? Clothes? Doodads? Tickets to the theater, concerts or sports events?

Or do you rush into a store and pick up the first thing that you see, especially if it’s on sale, telling yourself that she’ll probably return it anyway?

Your task is to delve into this situation with a character. First establish the givee. Who is this person? What is he like? Is he picky or accepting? Grateful or greedy? Does he have varied tastes or only likes certain items? When you’ve given him gifts before, has he been gracious or rude?

Once you’ve established background, create the situation in which gifts are to be given. Wedding? Birthday? Anniversary? Promotion? Open house?

Next come up with at least one gift giver. Establish their relationship and put the story in motion. It’s important that we see the emotions as they happen. Think about word choices, facial expressions and what happens to the gift during the occasion.

When you reread, look for places where details don’t come clear enough. Edit.

Have fun with this one.

Discovering Your Talent

Everyone is good at something, right? Are you a musician, writer or mechanic? Do plants bloom under your care? Can you design cards for all occasions? Organize messy closets? Sort through things you haven’t used in ages and part with them?

Maybe you’re not creative or good with your hands. Perhaps your talent is in the patience you have when faced with difficult situations. Maybe it’s your ability to understand the emotions of others. Is it that once you sign up for something, you give it 100%?

There are those who pitch in and o whatever is asked, even when the task is unpleasant. Or, maybe it’s your gumption, your determination to push on even through difficulties that might stump others in their tracks.

Your characters have skills and talents as well and it’s up to you to reveal them so that readers know a different side of those characters. It adds dimensionality and therefor builds interest.

Your task is to write a story, either real or made up, in which a skill is revealed through action. It might be useful to include dialogue as a way of spurring your character to participate, in whatever way she can, in an activity.

Remember to include emotions in order to increase tension. We need to see your character in t5he decision-making process as well as in the process of doing the activity.

Have fun with this one.

The Temperature is Rising

We look forward to summer. Warm weather inspires us to go outdoors. Because of this, it’s a time of picnics, hikes, vacations and family gatherings.

Until it gets too hot. When the heat combines with humidity, it can become unbearable, especially for those who lack air conditioning. This causes lack of sleep and discomfort due to dehydration.

Misery leads to flares of anger, frustration and irritation. When combined with crowds, people can lash out at others. Fights occur. People get hurt. A feeling of hopelessness can trigger poor behavior.

Your task is to write a story in which things go horribly wrong because of hot weather. Work from your experience or do research into statistics on violence in extreme heat.

Remember to include details, especially those concerning feelings. Without understanding how an individual is feeling, how that affects thinking, your story will lack substance.

Have fun with this one.

 

 

Sacrificing out of Love

Remember an occasion when you needed a gift for someone special. How hard did you look? Where did you find it? Did you give them something store-bought or something from your home?

Recall the thought process that went into the choosing. How long did you think about it? How hard did you research? What was your final decision? How did this make you feel?

At some time your character will need to buy a gift for someone. Does your character have the money to buy the gift he wants? If not, how much is he willing to sacrifice in order to get it?

Write the story that tells of the emotions that run through his head as he goes through the process.  Make sure that the reader feels the turmoil, the confusion, the decision-making process that takes place.

Reread. Edit.

Have fun with this one.

 

 

Dealing with Death

We don’t like to kill off our main characters. It is a way to bring a book to an end, but not a very satisfying one. Instead we kill off secondary characters that impact the protagonist’s life.

How to incorporate death? Shakespeare was a terrific example of how to write death scenes. Think of Romeo and Juliet. From the very beginning, all kinds of people die. The Montagues and Capulets turn the town into a war zone with sometimes daily street fights. Initially those who succumb are minor characters, but with the death of Mercutio and Tybalt, things change.

The death scenes are dramatic. Mercutio stumbles down steps while he curses both houses and declares that tomorrow the worms will be eating his body. Tybalt dies to conclude a sword fight that, according to perceived skill, he was sure to win.

Then Juliet drinks a potion that makes her look dead. She’s sealed in the family tomb, which then Romeo enters. Seeing her dead, he drinks a poison after holding her hand, commenting on her facial color. He dies. She wakes. She hopes for a drop of poison. Finds none, so stabs herself.

Lots of death in a 2 ½ hour play!

Your task is to write several scenes in which at least one main character dies. First figure out the method. Next craft how quickly the death occurs. Also consider the reactions of others in your story. What impact does death have on them?

Write the story, keeping in mind that emotional states play a huge roll in this segment. Is the death scene serious or comic? Both are plausible based upon the tenure of the story.

Have fun with this one.

Promises Made, Promises Broken

When someone says they going to do something, we expect them to follow through without endless nagging. This belief is formed during our childhood years. When a parent or guardian says, “I’ll be there in a minute,” we watch to make sure they appear. When they do not, our expectations change. We become jaded toward promises.

Depending upon how many times we have been disappointed by broken promises affects our outlook in life. Too much heartbreak feels like rejection.

Your task is to write a scene in which someone is promised a preferred outcome which never happens. You must include psychological and emotional details in order for the story to be compelling.

Reread. Does disappointment come through? If not, edit.

Have fun with this one.

Significant Objects in Your Life

When we were growing up someone gave my mom a cookie jar that was in the shape of a monk. We called him Friar Tuck, as in Robin Hood. My mom would store cookies in there, but because it was not airtight, the cookies quickly became stale.

When we moved from Ohio to California in 1964, the jar came with us, one of the few items that made the trip. The jar sat proudly on my parent’s countertop no matter where they lived. When my dad passed away a few years ago, Friar Tuck was still there.

The jar represented all the moves, all the changes in my family’s life. Marriages, grandchildren, moves. Eventually the deaths of both of my parents.

Your task is to think of something that represents your life. It could be an object, a traditional food item, or a journey that the family made together over a period of years.

Perhaps the objects no longer exist, the food no longer prepared and the trip no longer taken, but the memories linger. The memories don’t have to be positive. It could be that every time you think of your sister’s special spaghetti it dredges up images of arguments, hurtful words tossed about like candy.

Write the story behind that object. Allow it to reveal events in your past that add up to a longstanding story about your relationship.

Have fun with this one.