A Time When You got Lost

Imagine that you are driving to an unfamiliar place before GPS appeared on your phone. You’ve got a map and so far, everything has gone fine. The exit appeared when you expected it to, the street to turn right on showed up within blocks. But after the left turn, you are not where you were supposed to be.

Instead of office buildings, you are in a housing development where junk litters every yard and groups of young men laze about porch steps. A drunk stumbles down the street, weaving in and out of a row of old cars parked along the curb.

You don’t know what went wrong.

Your task is to tell that story. Your readers will want to be with you, from when you happily left home until that feeling of being lost washes over you.

It’s important to include emotions, for without them, there is no story. We want to feel your happiness, satisfaction, then fear. We want to be with you as you navigate your way out of the mess.

Have fun with this one.

Vacation Woes

We make the best plans. We coordinate departure dates and times so that someone can get us to the airport. We do the same for when we arrive.

We select the best rental car from the provider that we like, and depend on them to have the vehicle ready when we are.

Our hotel choices vary from location to location. Many of us rely on specific brands, or avoid specific brands, or choose neighborhoods we know are safe. Maybe we select a B & B in an old Victorian home, or now, with AirBNB rent someone’s house, condo or cottage.

Our characters must approach travel with some degree of finesse. Unless, of course, they are novices or nonchalant.

What happens when things go wrong? The flight is cancelled or seriously delayed? There is no rental car waiting, no hotel, no B & B, no safe neighborhood. Think of the stories to be told!

Your task is to write a scene in which your character goes on a trip. In order to make the story interesting, there must be tension, so things have to go wrong. It might be too much to create problems with every part of the plan, so be careful. Enough problems to provide interest, but not too many as that will pull the readers out of the story.

Have fun with this one.

Accommodation Expectations

When we travel, we have certain standards that we expect wherever we stay.

For example, when camping, we like a solid picnic table, a level place to pitch our tent, and a bear box to protect food.

When we stay in a hotel we have comparable expectations.

So does your character.

Your task is to write a scene in which your character’s expectations are not met.

What does he say and do? Does he explode or accept the substandard accommodations?

Be realistic in your writing by staying true to your character’s personality.

Have fun with this one.

The Unexpected Adventure

It’s often fun to go places we’ve never been and do things we’ve never done, but not always.

Imagine what would happen, how you’d feel, if your plans fell apart and suddenly, without warning, you find yourself in the midst of an unexpected adventure.

What would you do? How would you feel? What things might you say? Who would you contact?

Your task is to either choose a character that you have already written or create a new character. Place the character in scene. At first everything goes smoothly, but then something happens that changes everything. Your character finds himself in a new situation, one not of his choosing.

As you write, remember to include sights, sounds, reactions. Does he go along with the change or fight against it? Does he enjoy the new experience or lament that he is not where he intended to be?

As the story proceeds, what happens? Does the character embark on this journey or fight her way back to the original plans?

You’ve got a lot to think about here.

Have fun with this one.

Addictions

Addictions interfere with our lives. Drugs and alcohol impair our ability to function normally, to concentrate, to process and hold on to information.

Going to work under the influence, if caught, could lead to termination. Driving can cause death to innocents.

Imagine the impact on relationships, unless the partner also abuses.

These are the things that we must consider when crafting characters.

Is your character an addict or a one-time user? Does your character hang out with users or avoid users? Does your character occasionally use drugs or alcohol or take part on a regular basis?

Your task is to create a character and then decide how much of an addict, and addicted to what, that individual is. Write a scene in which the reader sees the character either avoiding substances or taking part.

If you are not familiar with how someone under the influence of a particular drug might act, do some research. You want your character’s actions to be as realistic as possible.

Have fun with this one.

Give Her Wheels

Our characters move from one place to another. How do they accomplish this?

Sometimes they walk, but not always. Walking only gets you so far, even if she lives in a big city.

At some point she will need to travel further distances. How will she get there?

Usually on wheels. City bus, subway, bicycle, taxi all have some type of wheel.

Our characters need to travel, need to venture outside of the home unless he is agoraphobic, and so at some point must get in a vehicle.

Your task is to think about a character that you are using in a story. Make a list of the means of transportation that he could use. List as many as are plausible.

Next to each mode, write a reason for using that method of transportation. For example, going to the doctor, getting to work, visiting friends.

Narrow down your list to the one that makes the best story. Think in terms of dramatic scene. What could happen while on the bus? Riding in the car? Pedaling a bicycle down a country road?

Now write that scene, keeping in mind that your reader needs to be there with your character, feeling what she feels, seeing what she sees and experiencing everything through that character’s senses.

After you’ve written the scene, reread and edit. What do you think? Does your writing help you to travel next to your character? If not, then go back.

Have fun with this one.

Weather Problems

No matter how much we would like it to be, skies are not always blue.

Clouds turn the world dark gray. Winds blow. Rain pours. Snow falls. Visibility drops and roads turn treacherous.

Your stories need to reflect real life.

Your task is to take a piece that you have written and add in the weather. Go beyond sunny days and clear blue skies.

Perhaps put your protagonist in a low-visibility situation where the roads are slippery. Think about how your protagonist would react.

Have fun with this one.