Being Helpfu

Happy people are more likely to help others. It doesn’t take a researcher to verify that statement for we’ve all seen it in action.

Imagine walking down the street at the same time as a mother pushing a stroller while holding the hand of a young child. As she goes down the curb, the stroller tips, threatening to dislodge the toddler.

On one side of the street is a young man walking to the beat of music only he hears. On the other side is another young man stomping forward, bent over, lost in some negative event.

Which of these two will rush to help the woman?

Your task is to write a story in which someone needs help. You can make the need as large as you wish. For example, perhaps an older gentleman needs a new roof or maybe an item is too high for a young girl to reach. Your character reacts. Or perhaps she doesn’t.

Readers will need to meet your character before the event occurs in order to understand the motivations between action or inaction. Set the scene by including sensory details that establish the when, where and why. Make sure readers also meet the person in need of help. Establishing personalities is crucial. Once the story gets going, allow readers to see and feel what happens next.

Have fun with this one.

The Mentor

Everyone needs someone to look up to, the mentor who provides guidance in an increasingly difficult world.

For some of us it’s a relative. Maybe Mom, who teaches love, kindness and caring toward others. Maybe it’s Grandpa who shows us how to work with our hands, takes us camping and teaches us how to barbecue. Perhaps it’s an aunt who struggled hard to be an auto mechanic in what has traditionally been seen as a man’s job.

For those of us who lack a strong family member to emulate, our mentors come from the outside world. How many of you fell in love with a teacher? This teacher offered praise and encouragement and made us feel smart and worthy.

Maybe it was at college at school or at work, who came to us offering advice on projects. This individual never made us feel inferior, but rather kindly took us under her wings.

Many kids worship athletes and want to be just like them. I once worked with a student who sought to be an astronaut shortly after the launching of a space probe, and at another time with one who wanted to be a famous skateboarded.

Your character needs a mento9r in his life. Someone to whom she can turn when stuck or feeling out of sorts.

As you develop your list of characters, write down several who could serve as mentors, and in what ways. Match up one from this list with your character’s interests or skills. Then enhance your list, writing down several possible scenes in which the two might interact, as well as the possible outcome of the interaction.

Your job is then to put the story in motion. Your character comes in contact with her mentor. A problem is discussed. A solution found.

Make sure that everything is logical. Dialogue should not sound forced, but rather flow naturally.

When finished, reread and edit. Add in details that flesh out the story.

How did it work for you? Does your character feel more three-dimensional?

Have fun with this one.