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.

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.