Shopping Extravaganza

            There’s nothing more exciting than heading off to the mall for a morning of shopping. Even if you have little money to spend, there are windows to peruse, clothing to inspect, dreams to build.

            You might begin by simply strolling up and down the mall, stopping to see what wonders are on display. On the next go-round you enter only those stores that intrigued you. Up and down aisles you go, occasionally holding up an item for inspection. You check the make, the style, the price, the quality, all the while imagining yourself wearing it.

            Does it go with anything you currently own? Is it too similar to things you’ve got at home? Is it worth the price or should you wait for a sale?

            All these thoughts go through your mind as you meander about.

            Imagine your character going on a shopping spree. What kinds of things hold his interest? Which stores invite him in? What items does she choose to inspect up close? Does she make immediate decisions or mull things over? Does he leave to see what comparable things other stores offer or make the purchase right then and there?

            Your task is to send your character on a nice, long shopping trip. He can go alone or bring a friend. She can try on things in her own dressing room or share with a friend. Lunch might be included as well as dinner after.

            Will the day go smoothly with lots of laughter and pleasant conversation or will arguments ensue? At the end, will he have purchased anything? If so, what? If not, why not? Dialogue might be the stronger as it allows for the give-and-take between characters as they discuss the merits of each item.

            Have fun with this one.

Difficult Choices

            Recall a time when you were faced with two possible choices. At the time, one definitely seemed better than the other, but the least favored choice would be easier to accomplish.

            For example, you could go to college and earn a Master’s Degree, a choice that might enhance employment opportunities. However, it will take at least a year to complete.

            On the other hand, you could expand your current skills by attending workshops, seminars or weekend trainings. Each one you complete goes on your resume, making it appear that you are constantly working on improving yourself.

            The choices might be more mundane such as whether to have the beef enchilada drowning in sauce and cheese or the tortilla soup. Both are delicious, but one has far fewer calories.

            Your task is to write a scene in which a character faces two choices. Make sure that both are compelling and offer some type of reward. Your character must take time to consider both equally.

            To make the story more interesting, add in another character. This allows for dialogue, which provides opportunity for depth and detail.

            Have fun with this one.

Paying the Bills

Perhaps you are fortunate enough to be able to pay your bills on time and so have excellent credit. When you need a new car, no problems. You are automatically approved for a loan. You decide to buy a condo and the lender smiles as they hand you papers to sign.

Maybe you’re struggling to pay the rent and put food on the table. You pay off the gas company so you have heat and light but postpone payment to the credit card company. You know this puts you in risk of losing the card, but you have no choice.

Your task is to write a story in which paying the bills plays an important role. You can tell the story of an individual who has no financial worries until something happens that puts him at risk. Or you can share the concerns of someone who is just getting by.

The important point is to ensure that your readers feel the joy or the pain, that they walk in the shoes of your protagonist. Dialogue would be important as well as narrative descriptions. Seek a balance between the two.

Have fun with this one.

Pausing for a Reality Check

Impulsivity is a plus in certain fields of employment. Imagine being faced with a decision that has to be made now, not ten minutes from now or after consulting with a team of experts. Quick thinking and fast reactions save lives in an emergency, solve problems in a production line, and move people safely out of a burning building. Take-charge people can be a benefit to an organization.

Now imagine a scene in which acting impulsively causes serious problems. The man rushes into a burning building to save his cat, gets trapped and has to be rescued by firefighters who could potentially be injured or killed in the process. Or say she’s driving a car, the light turns green and she jumps out into the intersection because it’s her turn. A car running through the light hits her, killing her passenger and breaking several bones in her body.

In both cases pausing before acting would save lives.

This is called taking a Reality Check. Before acting, you stop for a few seconds and analyze the options or the motivations for your thinking. It can be a powerful tool when employed correctly.

Your task is to write a scene in which your character needs to utilize the Reality Check method. Create a complex setting in which important decisions have to be made. Perhaps your character acts rashly, leading to a domino effect of negative consequences.  Maybe your character is the victim of someone who made a poor decision. Readers will need to feel the danger, sense the thinking process and care what the result is.

Have fun with this one.

Great Decisions

Recall a time when you had to choose between a variety of things, ranging from great to small. Some gave immediate short-term rewards while the most desired required patience and determination to accomplish.

Perhaps you wanted a forbidden soda and a candy bar of your own. What went through your mind as you stood before the range of possibilities? What did you choose and why? As you ate and drank, what sensations did you experience? And when you were finished, were you satisfied? If so, why?

Now think of something you wanted as an adult. A new car? Hybrid or electric? Automatic or manual? Sedan or SUV? What research did you do before making a decision? What factors influenced the vehicle that you chose? Once you drove it off the lot, what emotions arose? Were you satisfied with your decision?

Your characters make great decisions as well. The things they want depend upon personality, socioeconomic status and need.

Your task is to write a scene in which the readers will see the entire story from beginning to end. Because this could easily become narrative, the challenge is to bring the process alive through dialogue and action. Tension must also come to play in order to prevent the story from being flat.

Have fun with this one.

A Personal Dilemma

Generally a dilemma is presented as someone having to make a choice. One choice might be seen as the lesser in terms of risk and possible negative outcomes, but it might also not give the results that the individual desires.

The second type of choice may be clear, but it might result in things unforeseen, things that could be harmful or dangerous. In fact, the character might find the end life changing in an unbearable way.

When writing a scene in which your character must make a choice, present options that are demanding, clear-cut, but terrible. Create tension by making the reader question the character’s judgement. The reader should second-guess possible outcomes and want to warn the character away from taking the wrong step.

Your task is to write a scene in which your protagonist is faced with two equal choices. The decision must be made quickly as there is no time to research or deliberate. This will amplify tension. That hurry will lead to devastating consequences for himself or for those he loves. When the scene ends, perhaps an alternative presents itself that he didn’t see beforehand.

At the end the reader wants to know if the protagonist has changed in away way. Is he humbled? Chagrined? Remorseful? Ashamed? And if he is, how has the experience altered his thinking.

Have fun with this one.

Time to Quit

Are quitters really losers or is there a good reason to walk away? Is it more important to stick with something than to admit that it doesn’t appeal to you? This is something that people grapple with daily.

No one wants to been seen as a loser, someone who drifts from one activity to another, mastering none. When applying for a job, future employers might not consider a talented hire someone who has spent a few months working at one job and then another.

Your task is to create a character who either is a serious quitter, someone who has tried a variety of things and given up, or someone who hates what he’s doing but won’t quit for fear of being seen a loser.

Write from your heart, taking into consideration your beliefs about quitting. Put your character in a situation that is familiar to you, perhaps something that you have experienced.

Remember to include emotional details, for it is with the heart that these types of difficult decisions are made.

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.