Fruitless Search

            Have you ever spent a great amount of time looking for something only to find that it wasn’t there? What emotions did you experience? Anxiety, frustration or perhaps even relief if what you searched for wasn’t something you really wanted to find.

            Every writer knows that their protagonist has to want something from the onset of the story. The goal is to find it, buy it, unveil it, at all costs. During the search, the character goes through a series of trials, some benign, others quite dangerous. The vast majority of stories end with success. Whatever it was that the character wanted at the beginning has been secured.

            But what would happen, how would the story change, if instead of achieving his goal, the character fails? If he was optimistic as he set off on his search, what is he feeling at the end? If he was pessimistic at the onset, not really wanting it but setting off on the quest anyway, is he relieved when it eludes him?

            Your task is to write the story of the dead end. Your protagonist wants something so badly that she immerses herself in the search. Trials appear that slow her down. At the end, she cannot find that which she desired.

            Description is important, but to be able to understand what your character wants, include dialogue. He has a companion on his journey, or she meets up with friends and shares her exploits.

            Have fun with this one.

A Lost Object

Think how many times you’ve lost something. Can you recall how you felt? Frustrated? Angry? Disappointed?

When you lose something, it tears you up inside. One time I’d purchased a nice watch as a gift for one of my sons. When it came time to wrap it up, I couldn’t find it. I searched through all of my normal places, but couldn’t locate it. In tears, I finally went outside and dug through the garbage! That’s where it was. It must have been carried out with the trash. Yes, I was relieved, but also incredibly disappointed in myself.

Call to mind one of your characters. Picture this individual. Think about how this person speaks, walks, behaves, treats others. Now imagine this person losing something. Will he behave in character or become a totally different person? Will she tear the house apart, looking high and low, or simply give up?

Your task is to make a list of objects important enough that your character will diligently search to find. Try to come up with at least five different ones. Then narrow the list to one, by choosing that which would drive her nuts if she can’t find it!

Write the story of the search. Remember to include feelings, for this is what is most crucial to the story. We need to understand how he is feeling, not just how he is acting.

This might be a challenge for you. It is easy to write about a character going through her day, but much harder to describe her feelings.

Have fun with this one!