A New Power

            Your superhero character can fly carrying heavy cargo vehicles. Or maybe she can vaporize demons with a flick of her wrist. He summons kind spirits from the earth that overpower the evil that’s threatening his world.

            What would happen if she suddenly has a new power? How would she discover it and how would it manifest itself? Do the powers conflict or work together? Does she drop one in order to utilize the other?

            Your task is to write a story in which a new power appears. Readers will need to know what talents the character has, how he uses it, and at what personal cost. It would therefor be important to show that talent being used.

            The second talent shows up either after training or unexpectedly. Show the emotions as the character discovers that skill, as well as how others react when they see this new skill in action.

            Perhaps the first talent was sued for evil purposes, but the second can only do good. Or the other way around.

            Have fun with this one.

Imaginary Friends

            I loved stories where the little kid had an imaginary friend. I tried summoning one when I was about eight, but nothing happened. I didn’t play with dolls or stuffed animals, so I couldn’t imbue any of them with human-like qualities.

            It was too bad, because having someone at my side, comforting me when I was feeling sad, might have made those years a tad better.

            In fantasy stories there are often magical beings which take on the characteristics of imaginary friends. Usually only the one person can see the friend, which creates a series of problems.

            Your task is to write a story in which the protagonist has an imaginary friend. Your story can be realistic or fantastical. Your protagonist can be a child, a teen or an adult. The imaginary friend can look like a human, a dragon or a sprite. It should have talents, such as talking, singing, working magic.

            Have fun with this one.

Strange Occurrences

            Sometimes things happen during our day that can’t be explained through rational thinking. Perhaps the sky darkens unexpectedly and strong winds arise, followed by a deluge that no one had foreseen, reminiscent of fantasy stories, yet not.

            Maybe a strange critter scampers by while you’re out on a hike that only you see. It resembles something real, but it’s coloring is a bit off. When you point it out, your friends think you’ve gone bonkers. And you agree.

            Your task is to write a story in which something bizarre happens. Perhaps a whole bunch of strange things happen, much like in a children’s story. You can choose to use the voice of a children’s author or that of an adult fantasy writer.

            Scene is important. There need to be sufficient details that readers can see what’s happening. It also has to be believable in the world that you have created. Dialogue helps to establish scene and gets readers into the heads of characters.

            Have fun with this one.

The Wizard Did It

            Every story needs a villain. In the fantasy world, there have been helpful wizards (think Gandolf), but most often, evil ones. Helpful wizards don’t always turn out to be all that helpful. They intend to do well, but things go wrong. Instead of starting a warming fire, they set the forest ablaze. Or what should have been a nourishing drink turns out to make someone very ill.

            We all expect the evil wizard to cause harm, so it might be a huge surprise if the wizard actually does something kind.

            Your task is to write a story in which everyone suspects the wizard. Begin with the event. What happened, how did the wizard get involved, how do the people feel, and what is the eventual result?

            Is the wizard the main character or someone else? Is the wizard friend or foe? Where does the story take place? Castle? Forest? Mountain top?

            Are there a lot of people nearby or is the location remote?

            Lots of decisions to make, keeping in mind that readers want tension. On top of that, keep in mind that tone impacts the story as well. If you write a comedic story, the overall tone is completely different if terror and damage occur.

            Have fun with this one.

Monster Attack

            Do you remember the first movie you saw in which a monster arrived, creating havoc wherever it went? Most likely you were both horrified and entranced. Your eyes were glued to the television as the monster destroyed buildings, tossed cars and grabbed people off the street.

            Today the horror genre is incredibly popular. Moviegoers seem to eagerly await the next new monster, whether it comes from sea, air or land. There’s something intriguing about a foreign entity spewing drool and fire as it crushes a famous city.

            Your task is to write a story in which a monster invades a city that you know well. By choosing a known setting, you can include realistic concepts such as existing buildings and street names.

            Your protagonist can be the monster or the hero who fights to save the world. Descriptions is important so that readers can visualize your monster as well as the place, time and actions taken to fight it.

            Include dialogue as well so that readers understand what’s going through your protagonist’s mind.

            Have fun with this one.

Magical Realism

Magical realism is a literary genre in which the world in which the story takes place, is realistic, with normal beings, places and objects. However, there is an undercurrent of magic or fantasy in which the line between the worlds in blended. For example, magical or supernatural phenomena exist in a setting that the author does not invent.

            Fairy tales are a good example because the characters live in houses, eat food, wear the clothes of the times, but something happens, an invasion of that reality, that changes the overall story arc. Characters have traits such as levitation, telepathy or telekinesis that they employ to get what they want, influence people or outcomes, or entertain and bedazzle others.

            Imagine flying carpets, bowls that dance and ghosts that haunt an occupied home.

            Your task is to write a story that incorporates some degree of magical realism. Begin by choosing what type of magic exists in the world, whether or not it can be controlled, and who, if anyone, can manipulate the magic.

            The story can be serious with potentially deadly outcomes or have a bit of humor when things/objects act in ways that do not occur in the real world.

            Have fun with this one.

Fan Fiction

            Imagine loving a story series so much that you write your own takes on what the characters do. You imitate the settings, clothing, languages and behaviors of your favorites. You find Internet sites dedicated to the stories and submit your versions. Other fans love what you’ve done and so you write more.

            But it’s not just for fans of current stories, but even for fairy tales from long ago. How many versions of Cinderella, for example, have you read? Just about every culture has a Cinderella or Prince Charming. There are contemporary versions in which Cinderella is the rescuer or in which Rapunzel sits down below the window and calls up, asking the trapped prince to let down his hair.

            Your task is to take a known character and story and make it your own. Expand on the story by creating new situations and settings or by bringing an old tale into the present. Or maybe well into the future. Think about what technologies existed during the first writings and what you want your characters to be able to utilize.

            Make sure there is tension, that something happens that places your character in jeopardy. Use both narrative and dialogue. Include those all-important sensory details.

            Have fun with this one.

A Different Kind of Vampire

            Vampires suck blood out of their victims, right? But what if they didn’t? What would vampires need to stay “alive” then?

            Would it be possible for them to enjoy a nice, cold glass of milk? Perhaps with a dollop of chocolate stirred in? Or maybe they’d like hot chocolate with marshmallows mixed in?

            Your task is to think of an alternative that changes the vampire narrative. If they don’t need blood, then they won’t drain victims of blood, killing them. They wouldn’t change their victims into vampires either.

            Consider what a vampire needs to sustain itself. That means there should be something nutritional about what they consume. That rules our soda unless it’s accompanied by some type of food that provides the vitamins and minerals that vampires need.

            Once you’ve settled on a “food”, then create the scene and situation that shows the vampire procuring and enjoying the drink.

            Have fun with this one.

A Twist on the Familiar

            Picture a dragon. An ordinary dragon. What do you see? Flames burning down villages? Piles of hoarded gold? Dwelling in a darkened cave? But what if your dragon does not meet those requirements? Perhaps instead of shooting fire it spouts water that drowns entire towns or maybe it uses its ability to refill reservoirs? What if it can’t fly but struts through the countryside winking at villagers and befriending other magical creatures?

            Take a typical ghost. She haunts the upstairs of the Victorian house on the top of the hill. She floats about terrorizing guests of the B & B. She dresses in a white gauzy dress, her ballerina-shoed feet never touching ground. What if your ghost lives in a modern high-rise condo complex in a major city? She has a nose-ring and wears punk-style clothing. Her attitude is obnoxious and rude. Her voice is a high-pitched squeal.

            Your task is to take a mythical or magical being and make it your own. Choose a creature that you are somewhat familiar with, or spend a little time researching something from another culture that sounds interesting. Think of ways to make it your own. Choose a nontraditional setting. Change the characteristics as in the above samples. Alter the personality, food preferences, behaviors.

            Write the story. Establish setting first, then drop in your character. Make things happen that will startle your readers. You want readers to smile, to nod, to enjoy the story.

            Have fun with this.