Family Game Night

Many of us older folks grew up playing card and board games. Some of us might have pleasant memories of friendly competition and conversations shared that brought joy and laughter. If the games took place on a regular basis, we probably eagerly looked forward to time spent with family and friends doing something that we could enjoy together.

However not all game-playing is friendly. Imagine a scene in which players are teased, harassed and humiliated. People scream at each other as they declare dominance in terms of gaming skills. Alcoholic beverages are consumed intensifying the belittling. The atmosphere is tension-filled because of the highly competitive situation. Instead of looking forward to those nights, dread looms over the announcement that the time has come to repeat the performance.

Your task is to write a scene in which your character takes part in game night. You choose whether there is friendly competition or cut-throat activities. Or maybe there is a combination of the two.

Begin by setting the scene and placing your character in the midst of the action. Perhaps there is debate as to which game to play, who is in charge and how it is determined who will go first. If younger players are involved, maybe they need help. If so, who takes on that role?

Dialogue and description are key.

Have fun with this one.

Play Ball!

Baseball. Basketball. Volleyball. Tennis. Rugby. American football, soccer and futbol as it’s known everywhere else. Playing sports is something almost everyone does sometime in their life.

For most of us we learn the rules of the games in our physical education classes. If a parent follows sports, then we spend hours watching on television.

Some of us play on recreational teams that become quite competitive, while others only play pickup games at local fields and courts.

Games can become contentious. Players cheat to get ahead. They illegally trip or push opponents. They step over lines then argue that they didn’t. Players who fall become injured, and if not hurt, get angry and fight back. Tensions rise. In professional sports it’s not unusual to see entire teams rush onto the field.

Your task is to write a story in which sports plays a major role. Choose a sport that you know enough about in order to tell the story. Make sure you understand the causes of tension and use them to draw the reader in. Details are critical. Dialogue is required.

Have fun with this one.

Listening Skills

Some of us are truly great listeners. When someone speaks to us, we give undivided attention, make appropriate comments, and offer timely responses. We don’t interrupt and ask for clarification if needed. Our body language, usually leaning forward somewhat, signals our interest in what’s being said.

There are those of us who are terrible listeners. When someone speaks we are fiddling with our phones, shuffling papers, tapping our feet and fingers and thinking of ways to exit the situation. Our disinterest in what is being said is clearly telegraphed through our facial expressions and posture. We are impatient, wanting it to end so that we can present our take on the subject or terminate that discussion so as to bring forth one of our own.

Your characters have listening skills as well. How to present them in a story? There must be a situation in which listening takes place, such as a party, social gathering or workplace meeting. There must be dialogue and there must be physical reactions. Posture and behavior is critical. There must also be give and take, with your character saying something in response.

Your task is to write a scene in which your character displays listening skills appropriate to her personality. A domineering, bossy person might have extremely poor skills, while a quiet, thoughtful person might be excellent. It’s up to you.

Write an interesting scene. Reread looking to make sure that tension exists and that your character’s skills are clearly shown.

Have fun with this one.

Unexpected Package

While I was out and about today I package came that my husband did not expect. He was overjoyed when he realized the vendor. He quickly put the meat selections in the freezer and is looking forward to cooking them.

How do you feel when something unexpected arrives at your door?  Is it with joy of discovery or dread, not knowing to whom you might owe a favor? And once it is opened, do your emotions change? If so, why?

Your task is to write a story in which a surprise package arrives for your character. This can be based on a real event that occurred in your life or completely fictionalized. What’s important is to describe the thoughts and emotions that your character experiences.

We want to see, from beginning to end, how it transpires.

This does not have to be a long piece, but could eventually be part of a larger story.

Have fun with this one.

Family Dynamics

Imagine a family gathering in which a variety of aunts, uncles, cousins and elders mix and mingle throughout the house and backyard. Most of the time pleasantries are exchanged and rules of engagement are followed.

But then someone has a little too much to drink or Johnny pushes Steven off the swing or Aunt Carol’s casserole gets knocked off the counter or someone overhears juicy gossip about themselves. All hell breaks loose, right?

That’s the story that you want to tell. Not the goody-goody everyone’s pretending to like everyone. Readers want to tension, the fights, the nasty words tossed about. We want to see what happens. Who’s involved. The words/actions. Who tries to intervene. Who laughs. Who gets hurt.

Your task is to write a fascinating story about family times that go awry. Remember to include details. The skirt tucked into Sally’s panties. The zipper of George’s slacks that gets stuck. The smell of rancid lettuce rotting in the afternoon sun.

We want good things to happen, sure. If not, the story would be over the top. Give us pleasant happenings, but then an incident that triggers disaster.

Have fun with this one.

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.