Word Scramble Prompt

            Take the words explosive, terrified, Pepto Bismal, 346 and police station. Or, if these don’t inspire you, flip through the dictionary and write down the first five words you find.

            Your task is to use the words in a story. You can add endings or change the tense, but the words must be used, once you have settled on your five.

            Your story can be funny or serious, an outright comedy or a tragedy. It can be realistic or fantasy. Choose the genre and story type that you find easiest to write.

            Have fun with this one.

The Awkward Date

            Did you ever go on a date that didn’t turn out well? What went wrong and how did it make you feel?

            Imagine if you’re a teenager and going on your first date. What emotions do you experience? Who do you tell? What do you wear? Where does your date take you and do you have a good time, or are you miserable? Does he kiss you when he brings you home? Or walk away?

            Imagine everything that could possibly go wrong. Make a list, then narrow it down to the two or three that might make for an interesting story.

            Your task is to write that story, building in plenty of tension and drama. Make the characters complex and interesting. Use dialogue and narrative description so that your readers are right there, experiencing the fraught evening.

            Have fun with this one.

Bad Weather

            Try to recall a time when you wanted to be somewhere, or go somewhere, but a bad storm was coming. You are afraid to leave as you might get caught in it, but you also want to get home as soon as possible. You might pack the car, listen to every weather report, all the while trying to make the right decision.

            Do you stay or do you go? What happens either way can make for an interesting story.

            Your task is to write a story in which your character is facing bad weather that has the potential to affect travel plans.

            Be sure to use lots of dialogue as this is the stuff that can lead to heated arguments. Once the decision is made, bring on the storm and let the emotions play out. Perhaps tornado forces them to hide in the basement, or the snow storm catches them without chains and therefor they slide off the road. Perhaps there are  flight delays that strand them at an airport where tempers flare.

            All kinds of exciting things can happen.

            Have fun with this one.

Visions

Close your eyes. Relax, allowing your mind to drift wherever it wants to go.

What do you see? Hear? Smell?

Are you somewhere in your past or seeing a vision of the future? How does it make you feel? Sad? Lonely? Frightened? Hopeful or happy?

What story comes to mind? Is it from your childhood or perhaps when you were much older?

Your task is to write that story, complete with all the emotions that hit you when your eyes were closed. You could begin with a line such as, “When I looked back, I…”

Bring the people in the story to life. They also have emotional reactions to the time and place. There might be conflict. There might be an argument. There might be cooperation and joy.

Use both narrative and dialogue to make the story sing.

Have fun with this one.

Misheard Lyrics             My dad could never remember all the lyrics to a song, so he infamously made them up. It could be annoying, but also downright funny. Sometimes his version made sense, but often it didn’t. And while he swore before us on a regular basis, when he used those same words in a song, it was often jarring.            I’d question myself if I really heard him say that, often convincing myself that, no, he’d never do that, knowing all the time that he had, indeed, cussed.            If you listen to the radio on a frequent basis, you’re exposed to hundreds of songs a week. Multiply that by 52, and you’ve now got a whopping 500-plus songs! And, if you’re a station explorer, you might hear even more.            Add in the music on television commercials, shows and movies, and the number skyrockets.            How can you possibly remember the lyrics to every song you’ve ever heard?             Your task is to write a story in which your protagonist frequently changes the words to songs. If she does so intentionally, why? And how do others around her react? Friends might tease, but acquaintances might be cruel in their taunting.            Have fun with this one.

Distinctive Fragrance

            Try to recall a time when wearing cologne was commonplace for both men and women. Put yourself in that time and place. Which ones did you like? Which ones made your nose wrinkle?

Which lingered long after the wearer had passed through?

For example, back when Old Spice was quite popular with men, when you were near someone wearing it, how did it make you feel?

Now consider a woman wearing Channel #5.

Your task is to write a story in which a character is wearing a distinctive cologne. That cologne must play a major role. For example, what if the burglar had been wearing the Channel? Or the rapist the Old Spice?

What images would your victim call forth?

Include as many sensory details as you can.

Have fun with this one.

New Person

            You’ve got an established story and you’re well into the plot. Perhaps it’s time to add something to jazz it up. Why not bring in an entirely new character?

            This character must add a twist to the story, something entirely unexpected. Make this individual’s flaw sufficient enough to alter the flow. Maybe he’s an antique collector who just happened to run across a hidden message at the back of a drawer. The note is yellowed and a bit crumpled, but it reveals….

            What if she belongs to a coven and believes that she can influence future events? How could she provide and interesting twist?

            The person might have magic or be a descendant of a powerful faerie line. If there was no magic so far in your story, think how this would up the stakes.

            Begin by making a list of possible individuals and what they would bring.

            Have fun with this one.

Examine House Listings

            Whenever you get stuck on setting, look up available houses in the neighborhood. Take a good look at the photos of each room. Check out the exterior as well, whether it’s a single-family home, an apartment or a condo.

            Can you picture your character living there?

            What happens inside the residence? A murder? A hot love affair? The birth of a child? Perhaps a devastating fire.

            Adapt the residence to fit your setting. Change the modern two-story house to an enchanted mansion on a street of Victorians. If it’s in perfect condition, give it a serious flaw, like a leaky roof or bathroom tiles that collapse inward when cleaned.

            How large of a family do you envision living there? If it’s a studio, perhaps you cram a family of four inside as it’s all they can afford. Or maybe a successful business woman buys the triplex in a new, swanky neighborhood.

            Now that you’ve established character and setting, craft the story. Make something intriguing happen, something that draws readers in.

            Invite other characters to populate your story, but make them all different, with spooky characteristics that clash.

            Have fun with this one.

Dealing with a Phobia

            Many of us are scared of heights, spiders and yapping dogs. We might be terrified of boats, riding on public transit or walking alone at night. The degree to which our phobias impact our lives varies from person to person.

            Seeing any size dog might cause your character to cross the street or turn around and go back home. A spider crawling on the wall might temporarily freeze your character, increase heart rate and impact breathing, paralyzing her until she forces herself to grab a shoe and smash it repeatedly.

            There’s a difference between not climbing a ladder and not going out after sunset. The first might prevent him from cleaning the gutters while the second might stop him from enrolling in classes at the university, accepting a longed-for job or jogging in a nearby park.

            Your task is to write a story in which the phobia seriously impacts your character’s life. Perhaps if when she steps outside and hears a dog barking somewhere, she goes back inside and slams the door. Maybe she stays there, missing dinner with friends or even not going to work, which results in broken friendships or a lost job.

            It might be interesting to hear how your character explains his phobia to others, so include dialogue. Sensory details will be paramont, so make sure we hear, smell, see, feel, and possibly taste very bit of that fear.

            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.