A Special Birthday

Think back in time to a birthday that was unique in some way. Perhaps it was your first party and Timmy Pearson ate so much cake that he barfed all over your Mom’s favorite throw rug.

Maybe it wasn’t your party, but your best friend’s when you were both teenagers. Someone brought a pint of vodka and dumped it in the punch. Everyone got drunk and silly. There was lots of close dancing, kissing and serious making-out.

Maybe your party was ruined when your Uncle Joe showed up, being the bully and braggart that he was, and stole your thunder by making it all about him.

Think of the stories you can tell!

Your task is to write about a special day that either you remember happening to you, or one that you want your character to experience. Details are important, so include foods eaten, drinks consumed, behaviors exhibited.

Dialogue is important so that personalities and interactions rise forth.

Your reader wants to be in the moment, to feel as if they are in the room, seeing and experiencing everything as your character does.

Reread, looking for details that make the story jump.

Have fun with this one.

Keeping a Journal

Many writers find it helpful to carry a journal around so as to be able to record things they see, feel, hear, taste, sense.

In terms of images, one way to accomplish this is to stop periodically and observe. List in phrases everything that comes to mind. Notice textures, colors, designs, sounds and contrasts. For example, the sun is shining but it is pouring!

At this time it is not important to analyze your observations, but to record them.

Your task is to take a walk at least once a week. You can cover the same territory every time or seek out different places. As you walk, stop and write. What colors are the leaves, if there are any? What noise does the wind make? Birds? Is there water trickling or rushing?

Next go online and bring up images that correspond to your recordings. Save them in a special file.

When you look at the images, what emotions rise to the surface? Contentment or unease? Why? Is there an incident in your past that relates?

Write a scene using at least three of the images you have saved. Reread looking for details and emotions.

Have fun with this one.

Being Brave

Some people are naturally brave. They climb trees without fear of falling. They strap on skates and speed down bumpy sidewalks untroubled by the possibility of breaking bones. They challenge their teachers, and then when older, their boss. Are they brave or foolhardy?

There are many of us how exercise caution at all times. We look one way, then the other, and then back again before putting a tentative foot in the pedestrian crossing. We double-tie our shoes and carry backpacks on our fronts. We sit at the rear of crowded rooms trying to blend in. Perhaps we are overly cautious, or perhaps we understand that plowing through life can be a bit dangerous.

Which type of person are you? What about your character?

Your task is to write a story about a time when you or your character did something requiring bravery for the first time. It could be when you stood up for yourself when a teacher falsely accused you of cheating. Or maybe when your date took you rock climbing without knowing your fear of heights.

As you write make sure to include the emotional details. We need to know who you are and how you are feeling. First you need to establish what is considered the “normal” world of the character. We need to understand who this individual is before experiencing that moment when she stands up for herself the first time.

Have fun with this one.

 

 

Focus on Space

            Look about the room in which you are currently in. What’s on the walls? What kind of furniture? Does everything match or is it a hobnob collection? Is it comfortable or functional?

Think about another space, such as workplace or favorite coffee shop. Picture them in your mind. How would you describe them?

Imagine that you are in a space that holds memories, either good or bad. How did the room smell? What triggered your emotional reactions? Did the quality of light affect your feelings?

Your task is to write a story, either real or imagined, that takes place in the space which most resonates with you. People it with folks that interact with you or your protagonist.

Include not just descriptions, although they are important to setting the tone, but also dialogue that evokes the emotions that you want to resonate.

Reread looking for places where you can add additional details and conversation.

Have fun with this one.

Perfect Strangers

Recall a time when you interacted with a stranger. Was it while standing in line at the grocery store? Going through security at the airport? Asking advice at a bookstore?

Was it a positive experience?  If so, why? What occurred that allowed you to feel good about the interaction?

Did you initiate the conversation? If so, what words did you use?

Your task is to place a character in a comparable situation. She is out and about. She runs into someone she doesn’t know, most likely will never see again, yet strikes up a conversation.

Be sure to describe the scene in sufficient detail that we hear the sounds, smell the smells, taste whatever is being offered, but not so much detail up front that the story never gets started.

Give us emotions. Fear? Dismay? Pleasure? But not all at once. Allow us to travel the range of emotions as the character experiences them. Much of this will have to take place in dialogue form.

Then give us a satisfactory ending.

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.

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.