Time to Quit

Are quitters really losers or is there a good reason to walk away? Is it more important to stick with something than to admit that it doesn’t appeal to you? This is something that people grapple with daily.

No one wants to been seen as a loser, someone who drifts from one activity to another, mastering none. When applying for a job, future employers might not consider a talented hire someone who has spent a few months working at one job and then another.

Your task is to create a character who either is a serious quitter, someone who has tried a variety of things and given up, or someone who hates what he’s doing but won’t quit for fear of being seen a loser.

Write from your heart, taking into consideration your beliefs about quitting. Put your character in a situation that is familiar to you, perhaps something that you have experienced.

Remember to include emotional details, for it is with the heart that these types of difficult decisions are made.

Have fun with this one.

The Temperature is Rising

We look forward to summer. Warm weather inspires us to go outdoors. Because of this, it’s a time of picnics, hikes, vacations and family gatherings.

Until it gets too hot. When the heat combines with humidity, it can become unbearable, especially for those who lack air conditioning. This causes lack of sleep and discomfort due to dehydration.

Misery leads to flares of anger, frustration and irritation. When combined with crowds, people can lash out at others. Fights occur. People get hurt. A feeling of hopelessness can trigger poor behavior.

Your task is to write a story in which things go horribly wrong because of hot weather. Work from your experience or do research into statistics on violence in extreme heat.

Remember to include details, especially those concerning feelings. Without understanding how an individual is feeling, how that affects thinking, your story will lack substance.

Have fun with this one.



Letter of Recommendation

When we apply for a job, we are asked to submit letters of recommendation. We choose people who will most likely say positive things about us. Who will highlight our skills in such a way that a future employer will hire us.

Granted not everyone gets a good recommendation. Someone who is lazy or often absent or late or misses important deadlines or does shoddy work will not get positive results. Even so, they have to try to come up with names of people who will want to see them succeed in a new endeavor.

Your character might need letters of recommendation at some point in the story. Who would he ask? What is the relationship between the character and those individuals?

Your task is to first create a list of three people who the character would go to for letters.

Next to each person’s name list the ways that the character has worked with this person and what that person might say about the character.

When that is finished, write a scene in which the character approaches the person to ask for a recommendation. This will be shown through dialogue. Keeping true to your character’s personality, have him act the way that he would in such a situation. For example, would he be humble or cocky?

This will not be an easy scene to write, but give it your best effort. While you might never use this scene in a story, it should reveal information about your character that you might not have had before.

Have fun with this one.

Work Habits

Are you a morning person or a night person? Is your mind sharpest when you wake up or is it sluggish until you’ve downed several cups of coffee?

In the evening do you get revved up and motivated or do you grind to a halt and collapse into your recliner until time for bed?

Just as we all have our best working moments, so do our characters.

Your task is multi-fold.

First make a list of a variety of characters spanning ages, cultures, beliefs and desires. Label them appropriately.

Spend some time thinking about each of them. What are they like? Are they ambitious or content? Do they seek adventure or prefer the steady drum of life?

Add to your description of each character you have created.

Once you have explored their personalities, now take time to decide if, according to the characteristics you have chosen, that person functions best in the morning or in the evening.

Be true to the individual.

Once you are finished, go over your profiles. Are all the details logical? Do you see a character’s potential? Can you insert the character in a story?

Have fun with this one.




Interview Jitters

We’ve all suffered through at least one interview in our lives. Some have gone quite well while others have been disasters.

Imagine your character applying for a job, an internship or a college.

How nervous is she? Does she lie awake all night worrying about how it will go? Does she try on every outfit in her closet looking for the right one?

During the interview do his palms sweat and his hands tremble?

Your task is complex. First make a list of situations that require an interview. Choose the one that makes for the most interesting story.

Next list possible feelings and reactions that your character might experience. Narrow that down to three or four.

Begin writing. Tell the story from the getting ready phase through the end of the interview. Even include the results.

Reread and edit. Look to make sure that you have included enough details that the story is interesting.

Have fun with this one.


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.

Traveling Incognito

We are many different people.

At any given time we might be walking around as an employee at a job that we hate/love.

The next moment we might get a troubling phone call about our child, and then we put on our parenting hat.

Or maybe it could be a message from a spouse, telling us that he/she just got promoted/was in a car accident/got good news from the doctor.

We could be an exercise nut on weekends or avoid exercise at all costs.

We might be a meat lover or a vegetarian or maybe a little of both.

We might love to play board/card games or hate any type of game.

We could be a reader of books/newspapers/magazines or only watch television.

We might be addicted to our devices, spending hours reading postings, or we might not own a single portable device, including a cell phone.

Because we change from day to day, hour to hour, we must consider that our characters also change. If she doesn’t, then she won’t be interesting to follow. A flat character does not invite tension, and every good story needs tension to pull the reader along.

Your task is to either create a new character or pull up one that you think might benefit from a little expansion.

Make a list of all the different disguises this character wears. Narrow the list down to two or three that you could comfortably fit into a scene.

Write that scene, keeping in mind that with each step a character makes, the hat changes.

Have fun with this one.

Catastrophic Illness

We don’t like to think about it, talk about it or write about it, but it happens. People fall ill, break bones and develop life-threatening conditions. It’s a fact of life and it affects people of all ages.

When we create our characters’ profiles, we need to consider whether or not those individuals will fall ill with something more severe than the flu. If you’re going for high drama, then perhaps illness works its way into your story.

Your task is to think of a character that you would like as a protagonist. Picture the individual in your mind, or to make things more concrete, go online and seek images of people who look like the character you have in mind. Save that image and consult it frequently.

Next create a list of five possible conditions that might befall that person. Don’t be gentle. Think huge and potentially life-altering.

Research those conditions and add bullets under each until you’ve created a fairly accurate picture of the illness.

Put together the image you’ve saved and one of the conditions, the one you feel most confident writing about.

Design the setting and a plot point, then write. You must keep in mind how this diagnosis affects the character’s mental and emotional state as well as how the character functions in the world. Your story need not end in death: in fact, it would be better if it did not.

Instead focus on the positives. How does someone with that condition work? Play? Interact socially and in a business manner? What kinds of things is the character able to do for relaxation? What would happen if your character had to travel by car, plane or train?

Tackle several of these issues in your story. Give us a character that we can care about, not a simpering whippet who cowers in a corner. Your readers will want to cheer on your character as he manipulates the world despite his condition.

Have fun with this one.

Career Advancement

Everyone who has a job, whether young or old, dreams of getting ahead. We want to move up the ladder, taking on more and more responsibility, being recognized for our work ethic, and earning more money in return.

Your characters need to do the same.

Imagine that your protagonist is a teen working as a dishwasher in a local café. As she scrubs dishes, she dreams of being a waitress or a chef or simply being the one who plates the food, but she has dreams. Now imagine how she’ll react when the boss gives her that desired raise!

Let’s say your character is a newly hired accountant in a busy firm. She looks around her and sees that not all accountants are equal. Some handle the tiny accountants that she does, while others manage the details for multimillion dollar firms. She’s got the credentials to do the job, but not the experience. How does she make herself more valuable? What does she do so the boss recognizes her skills?

Your task is to create a character that’s hired to do an entry-level job. It might not be glamorous, but it’s a foot in the door to greater things.

Think about how he feels before the interview, during the interview and after he is hired. Make a list of different words you can use to describe those emotions.

Put your character to work. Write about the day-to-day tedium of working the same job. What does your character do to make her life more interesting? How does she make herself stand out from others? Write about this.

What dreams does he have for advancement and how does he go about stepping forward? Does he simply approach the boss and plead his case? Does he work extra hard, often with a flourish, keeping his eyes ever alert?

What happens when she does talk with the boss? Does the boss initiate the conversation or does she? What words of encouragement are said? How does she respond?

Your task is to write this scene.

Have fun with this one.


Hiring Help

Let’s face it: things break. Sometimes, if we’re talented and skilled enough, we can fix it on our own. Many of us, however, are not so fortunate.

Water backs up into the shower. We call a plumber.

The car makes terrible noises: we take it to a mechanic.

We can’t tell the difference between a flower and a weed: we hire a gardener.

The roof leaks: we hire a contractor.

And on and on and on.

The same must be true for our characters. Problems arise that he cannot fix, so he turns to outside help.

Begin by making a list of things that your character cannot fix. Come up with at least ten. Then narrow it down to the one that would make the most interesting scene.

Your task is to write that scene. Begin with a peculiar noise or water where it shouldn’t be or bushes growing to abnormal sizes. Set the stage by letting us experience the problem through the character’s eyes. Remember to use the senses.

Once the problem has been discovered, what does she do? Does she call a relative to come over or try to fix it herself? What steps does she take in the attempted repair? Does she stand around and watch or pick up the wrench and tighten the pipes herself?

Think about how many attempts to give your character before he calls for help. If it’s more than one, show us each, allowing us to feel the frustrations that he feels.

At one point does she give up and call for help? Is it at the first sighting of problems or after many leaks sprout through the roof? After the car quits working or the tire falls off? Let us experience the attempts as well as the resignation.

Once the decision has been made to hire help, what does he do? Does he troll the neighborhood asking for recommendations or look up contractors online? How many does he call and how many proposals does he gather before deciding on the one to do the job?

Then, as the problem is being fixed, what does she do? Sit inside and drink a cup of coffee or hang around making sure that the worker is steadfast and honest with his time? Pick up the detritus as the job is being completed or watch a movie?

Sitting around would not make for a very interesting story, so be careful with this one.

Once the job is done, what does the character do? How does he feel? Does he haggle over price and the quality of the job or simply pay? Does she inspect the work and nitpick over every little thing?

You must decide, based upon you character’s personality.

So, get started with your list of potential problems, then write the scene.

Have fun with this one.