The Invitation

            Remember how you felt when you were invited to an event that you really wanted to be a part of. You would have been excited, maybe told others, possibly began preparing to go. This might have involved a shopping trip for a new outfit and a gift for the host.

            What if instead of being something you longed to attend, you’re invited to someone’s house who you don’t really consider a friend? Or to a business meeting for which you have no interest? Your emotional reactions would be completely different.

            Your task is to write a story in which your protagonist receives an invitation. You must first decide whether or not it’s a welcome invitation. One way to do this is to make a list of potential events. To create a dynamic story, choose the one that allows for the most tension, the most drama.

            Readers will want to see how the character reacts, how he tells others, and how things go at the event.

            Have fun with this one.

The Inventor

Thomas Edison and Benjamin Franklin are well-known inventors. Considering the available resources of their times, they took the world to new places. Henry Ford did likewise. Not only is he credited for the first car, he also came up with the idea for assembly-line work.

Smaller inventions have impact as well. Think of the shoelace, the whisk, the cast iron pot. Roller skates led to roller blades. Did snowboards precede skateboards? Imagine how the chair lift changed skiing and the outboard motor impacted fishing.

Your task is to write a story in which your protagonist is either struggling to invent something, or has done so and is trying to convince the market that her product is worthwhile.

Make it interesting by showing the issues that are impacting the character. Let readers see the setting, but also hear words shared.

Tension will pop-up as your character interacts with the device and with others.

Have fun with this one.

Food Inspiration

Many key things occur during the preparation or consumption of food.

In a wealthy household, there might be an entire staff working in the kitchen. Scullery maids did the dirty work of cleaning endless amounts of pots and pans. Cooks slaved over wood-burning stoves and ovens, chopped fruits, vegetables and meats, rolled pastries all while issuing commands to those under their watch.

Imagine the conversations that took place. Most likely there was a fair bit of gossip tossed about the family and townspeople alike.

In the dining room circumstances were quite different. Wealthy patrons were waited on by unformed servants. Course after course was served. Conversation might have covered contemporary issues, politics, entertainments and relationships.

Things are very different in the homes of the less wealthy, even today. Instead of maids, the wife does the cooking and cleaning. Kids help out, and in more egalitarian marriages, so do the husbands.

Regardless, topics of conversation might be quite similar.

Your task is to write a story in which the preparation and consumption of food plays an important role. Establish the setting and key characters, then get the action moving. Dialogue is going to be important, so make sure there is enough to allow readers to see what is going on.

Have fun with this one.

The Invitation

            A small card comes in the mail that you weren’t expecting. You hope it’s something good. Perhaps an invitation to a friend’s baby shower. Or to a bridal shower. She’s finally getting married!

You begin planning. What to wear, what to buy. Maybe even what dish to bring in case it’s a pot luck.

Finally, after dreaming about all the possibilities, you open the card. What goes through your head as you slide the card out of the envelope? As you look at the pretty picture on the front? As you slowly open the card and read the words?

Your task is to write a story in which your character experiences the range of emotions that accompanies the arrival of an invitation in the mail.

Set the stage with the setting, with the character, by employing both narrative and dialogue. Obviously this means there must be a secondary character, someone with whom discussion can take place.

Have fun with this one.

Lying

            It would be nice to never have to lie, but that’s a naïve idea. Telling the truth, can at times, create difficult situations that have serious repercussions.

            Imagine that a loved one emerges from her room wearing a new outfit. She asks how she looks in it. Your honest opinion is that the color, style or fit aren’t complimentary. However, if you tell her that, she might get angry, might fight back, might hide in her room. So you smile, say something noncommittal such as, “Looks nice.”

            What if instead of a loved one, it’s your boss asking your opinion about a project idea. You have experienced this exact situation before and so know that it you express doubt, all hell will break out. When you look at the details, you know immediately that it’s a lousy proposal that could cost the company a client, or waste money, or even lead to a potential lawsuit.

            Sometimes we have no choice but to lie even when we know that to do so, isn’t right.

            Your task is to write a story in which your character is forced to either lie or tell the truth. Make the stakes high enough that the character has something to lose.

            Use a combination of narrative and dialogue. There must be tension! And conflict.

            Have fun with this one.

Being Invisible

            There are many ways in which individuals are unseen that have nothing to do with fantasy.

            Obese people have felt that invisibility for most of their lives. Clearly, they can be seen: who could miss a two-hundred-pound (or more) person strolling through a store? No one, but that doesn’t consider the shocked looks, the averted eyes, the glued eyes, the snickers, laughs and cruel jokes.

            Often when Caucasians see a person of color approaching, they give the same types of looks, the averted eyes, the terrified looks, the crossing to the other side of the street. While the person of color is as visible as the obese person, scared reactions tend to discredit those feelings.

            Your task is to write a story in which invisibility plays an important role. You can choose fantasy to tell your story or base it on the real world. What’s important is to catch the essence of what being invisible means and how it influences events.

            Have fun with this one.

The Chef

            Some are excellent cooks. They can make something grand out of ordinary things. On the other hand, many can’t cook worth a lick. There are also those in the middle: with the help of recipes, they can put palatable food on the table.

            Your protagonist might have secret talents that aren’t revealed in the story, but that influence his actions in some way. For example, he meets friends for lunch at a fancy restaurant. He’s the only one that understands the names and descriptions, surprising everyone. From there perhaps he invites them over for a gourmet dinner.

            Or maybe he’s so clueless about the menu that he selects a simple salad, trying to be safe.

            Your task is to write a story that involves food in some way. If your character is a marvelous cook, write a scene in which something happens that alters the taste or consistency of the meal. You can do the reverse with the lousy cook: she concocts an entrée that’s the hit of the pot luck.

            Description is important, but build tension through dialogue. There must be conflict of some kind, either internal or external, or even both.

            Have fun with this one.

Welcome Phone Call

            Do you have a good friend that you miss? Have you called them but they never call back? What do you do?

            I’ve given up. After always being the one reaching out and never having the effort reciprocated, I’ve stopped dialing. Imagine my dismay when that friend doesn’t call, no matter how much time passes.

            Your protagonist most likely has similar tales to tell. Long lost friends or acquaintances that no matter how often she reaches out, they never respond in kind. Does your character write them off? Sit back and not dwell on past times?

            Your task is to write a story in which your character is missing a good friend. Perhaps one of them moved far away, making getting together challenging. Or maybe they got new jobs that are time intensive, making socialization difficult.

            Establish setting and tone first. Show us the character in her natural world. We want to see her reaching out, being rejected, and experiencing loss. Show us how she handles the passage of time. And then, what happens when the call finally comes!

            Have fun with this one.

Cooking Lesson

            Picture yourself in the kitchen, trying to cook something for the first time. Back then you probably had little experience to rely on, so you had to follow the recipe. If it turned out fine, then you were lucky as most of the time, we fail. The pasta might not be cooked thoroughly enough, the sauce might not taste right and maybe a key ingredient was left out.

            Most of us learn from a parent or spouse. Some, thanks to social media, go to videos or television programs for ideas and instruction. Learning from a video isn’t quite as emotionally charged as standing next to someone who might not be the best teacher.

            Your task is to write a scene in which the tension is so thick that it taints the experience. Your character might not be a willing participant. That generally happens when a teen is forced into learning from a parent. What could possibly go wrong? Everything.

            Include lots of dialogue. That will allow readers to see and feel what is driving the tension.

            Have fun with this one.

Awkward First Date

Think back to a time when all you really wanted was to date and fall in love with a special someone from your school. You thought about him/her all the time. You pictured yourself together forever. You lusted over the first kiss, the first time you were held.

And then it happened: you were asked out. Perhaps it wasn’t to a fancy restaurant, but for a hot dog and soda. You didn’t have to get dressed up, not like you imagined. Even so, you went through your closet, searching for the right outfit.

When you were at school, the two of you got along okay, but had never been alone. Now you are. What do you talk about? How does it feel to be there? Is he/she everything you dreamt of?

Your task is to write a story in which nothing on the date goes right. Perhaps there are offensive odors that turn your character off. Maybe one of them has overly sweaty hands or when the kiss happens, it’s too moist or the lips are too soft. Walking together, being together, your character finds is not pleasurable at all, but awkward.

Include description and dialogue. Dialogue creates tension as readers see the struggle to find common ground. When the date ends, where is your character’s head?

Have fun with this one.