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.

Writing From Experience

Another technique to use when you can’t think of a story to tell, is to write from a specific incident in your life.

For example, write about the time you were betrayed by another. This could have taken place when you were a child, or when you were in high school, or even as an older adult. You want to choose something that had an impact on who you are today.

If you are not writing about yourself, but rather a character in your story, choose an occurrence in her life that would have a comparable impact.

Your task is to first create a list of events that you might be able to write about. For example:

  1. Your first experience in deep water.
  2. The first time someone asked you out and the date that followed.
  3. Your first pet. This can be your initial reaction to it, your feelings over time, how devastating it was when it died.
  4. The time when you met someone who later became important in your life.

Once you have created your list, or working from the one above, write the story. Try to include as many details as you can, making sure that you tickle the senses. If you are writing about yourself, but you really wanted to use the details in a fictional story, then rewrite those parts that change the point of view.

Have fun with this one.

A Special Birthday

Think back in time to a birthday that was unique in some way. Perhaps it was your first party and Timmy Pearson ate so much cake that he barfed all over your Mom’s favorite throw rug.

Maybe it wasn’t your party, but your best friend’s when you were both teenagers. Someone brought a pint of vodka and dumped it in the punch. Everyone got drunk and silly. There was lots of close dancing, kissing and serious making-out.

Maybe your party was ruined when your Uncle Joe showed up, being the bully and braggart that he was, and stole your thunder by making it all about him.

Think of the stories you can tell!

Your task is to write about a special day that either you remember happening to you, or one that you want your character to experience. Details are important, so include foods eaten, drinks consumed, behaviors exhibited.

Dialogue is important so that personalities and interactions rise forth.

Your reader wants to be in the moment, to feel as if they are in the room, seeing and experiencing everything as your character does.

Reread, looking for details that make the story jump.

Have fun with this one.

A Time When You Had no Voice

Many of our memories come from times that hurt us or made us cry. Not having a voice is one. Don’t think about when laryngitis stole your voice, but when someone chided you or told you to be quiet.

The first time might have been when you were quite young. For example, a teacher called on you to answer a question and then didn’t like your response. How did that make you feel?

Maybe it occurred at home. You used words that angered your parent and were disciplined in response. What was your reaction? Did you quit talking? Or continue to speak your mind even though it caused more criticism to come your way?

Your task is to describe that time in your life when you were silenced, for whatever reason. Place yourself in the setting, then describe it in such a way that your readers will know where you are and what you are doing.

You can write from your memories or create a scenario when something similar happened to your protagonist. The important thing is to evoke those emotions that arose. The reader needs to feel the pain, the hurt, the frustration, the anger.

Reread. If those feelings do not come forth, then add details to enhance the experience.

Have fun with this one.

Keeping a Journal

Many writers find it helpful to carry a journal around so as to be able to record things they see, feel, hear, taste, sense.

In terms of images, one way to accomplish this is to stop periodically and observe. List in phrases everything that comes to mind. Notice textures, colors, designs, sounds and contrasts. For example, the sun is shining but it is pouring!

At this time it is not important to analyze your observations, but to record them.

Your task is to take a walk at least once a week. You can cover the same territory every time or seek out different places. As you walk, stop and write. What colors are the leaves, if there are any? What noise does the wind make? Birds? Is there water trickling or rushing?

Next go online and bring up images that correspond to your recordings. Save them in a special file.

When you look at the images, what emotions rise to the surface? Contentment or unease? Why? Is there an incident in your past that relates?

Write a scene using at least three of the images you have saved. Reread looking for details and emotions.

Have fun with this one.

An Activity for when you are Stuck

Freewriting is an excellent activity when your mind is drawing blanks. Sometimes all you need is a word(s) to stimulate a story or memory.

Your task is to:

  1. Make a list of between ten and fifteen words that may or may not be related.
  2. Word choices might have something to do with sights, sounds, tastes, textures in your known world, or in a world that you want to create.
  3. Narrow the list down to seven to ten words that you feel you can incorporate in your writing.
  4. Write for at least ten minutes, using each word in its own sentence.
  5. When finished, remove all but one word, the one that calls to you.
  6. Write a short narrative that focuses on the feelings and images that your word inspires.

If you now have something that you can expand into a story, well, good luck!

Have fun with this one.

Being Brave

Some people are naturally brave. They climb trees without fear of falling. They strap on skates and speed down bumpy sidewalks untroubled by the possibility of breaking bones. They challenge their teachers, and then when older, their boss. Are they brave or foolhardy?

There are many of us how exercise caution at all times. We look one way, then the other, and then back again before putting a tentative foot in the pedestrian crossing. We double-tie our shoes and carry backpacks on our fronts. We sit at the rear of crowded rooms trying to blend in. Perhaps we are overly cautious, or perhaps we understand that plowing through life can be a bit dangerous.

Which type of person are you? What about your character?

Your task is to write a story about a time when you or your character did something requiring bravery for the first time. It could be when you stood up for yourself when a teacher falsely accused you of cheating. Or maybe when your date took you rock climbing without knowing your fear of heights.

As you write make sure to include the emotional details. We need to know who you are and how you are feeling. First you need to establish what is considered the “normal” world of the character. We need to understand who this individual is before experiencing that moment when she stands up for herself the first time.

Have fun with this one.