Monster Attack

            Do you remember the first movie you saw in which a monster arrived, creating havoc wherever it went? Most likely you were both horrified and entranced. Your eyes were glued to the television as the monster destroyed buildings, tossed cars and grabbed people off the street.

            Today the horror genre is incredibly popular. Moviegoers seem to eagerly await the next new monster, whether it comes from sea, air or land. There’s something intriguing about a foreign entity spewing drool and fire as it crushes a famous city.

            Your task is to write a story in which a monster invades a city that you know well. By choosing a known setting, you can include realistic concepts such as existing buildings and street names.

            Your protagonist can be the monster or the hero who fights to save the world. Descriptions is important so that readers can visualize your monster as well as the place, time and actions taken to fight it.

            Include dialogue as well so that readers understand what’s going through your protagonist’s mind.

            Have fun with this one.

Hike in the Woods

            You’ve made plans to join friends for a hike in the woods. You’ve never been there before, but one of your friends claims to have been there several times before and so knows the trials. What could go wrong?

            Think of all the possibilities, from mundane to terrifying, that could happen. Stalked by a wolf? Injured by a hunter who mistook you for a deer? Lost when you went down an unfamiliar path? Slipped on a treacherous hill and careened over the edge? The list is endless.

            Your task is to write a story in which your hike goes wrong. Begin by looking at photos of forests to get an idea of how tall the trees are, how deep the forest, how narrow the path. Become familiar with the types of trees, edible plants, poisonous fauna. Research building shelters, finding shelter in caves, overhangs and amongst briars.

            Create your hiking group. Include a variety of personalities: the overconfident, the narcissist, the timid, the follower. How they interact will impact the flow of the story arc.

            Set the story in motion. Remember to build up tension as your characters walk along.

            Have fun with this one.

Reality Check

A reality check is utilized as a means to clarify or correct a misconception. If properly delivered, it can you makes the individual recognize the truth about a situation, especially by countering any difficulties and challenges that seem to prevent success.

Imagine wanting to lose weight. You research dieting techniques, go shopping for the recommended foods, tell yourself that tomorrow you will begin. Tomorrow comes and for lunch you order an ice cream sundae with the works. By the time you’ve finished it, you’re stuffed and miserable. You tell yourself that you failed, that you are a failure and will always be a failure so there’s no hope.

Taking time to reflect might allow you to see that it was just one slip up and that the rest of the day is open to success. One failure does not doom the plan.

That’s the benefit of a reality check. It helps us to step back and evaluate our performance as just one part of a whole.

Your task is to write a story in which your protagonist needs a hefty reality check. Begin by narrowing down the area that you feel most comfortable writing about. Make the stakes high enough and the desired outcome large enough that the character has to want to succeed so badly that he is willing to work at it. Put the story in motion, then have the character experience a failure and disappointment.

Include both narrative and dialogue.

Have fun with this one. 

Self-Reflection

            Sometimes it’s good to look back over the things we’ve said and done. It gives us a new perspective as to whether we should have approached a given situation differently or if what we did still feels okay.

            If we would change things, how would we do it? Would we walk up to the person and apologize? Send an email? Text? The method we choose might affect the outcome in ways that we hadn’t foreseen.

            Your task is to write a scene in which your character realizes that she didn’t behave the way she should have. She then contacts the injured party to try to make amends.

            This should be a tension-filled situation. Your character has no idea how the other person will react. She’s going to be nervous and possibly rehearse what she’s going to say. She might practice with a trusted friend before the meeting.

            The other person could accept the apology with grace or could strike out with hurtful words. Both scenarios work because sometimes we need a feel-good ending.

            This situation calls for dialogue and body-language. Include sensory details so that readers know exactly where the meeting takes place.

            Have fun with this one.

The Lie

            Most of us knows someone who lies on a regular basis. He lies about big things and small, at work and at home. He lies to his friends, family and peers at work. He cannot help himself.

            Most of his lies seem minor, but when added together, he becomes an untrustworthy person. If he says he ate at Boudet’s, the most expensive restaurant in town, or that he dated Cheryl a few years back and he dumped her because she smelled. No one believes him, laughs it off, and walks away.

            But when he lies about a job that he didn’t finish, or blames someone for losing his work, those lies affect not just his peers, but his company.

            Your task is to write a story in which a lie impacts a number of people and possibly affects the outcome of a situation. Take into consideration what the liar will do to try to hide the lie so that the truth is never revealed.

            Dialogue is important for readers will want to hear the liar repeating his story over and over. Description is critical for readers need to see, hear and feel the reactions of the liar and those to whom he lies.

            Have fun with this one.

Water Cooler Gossip

            Imagine the scene: a group of employees gathered around the cooler, sipping on ice water, sharing news about everyone that wasn’t in the group. They speak of divorces, poorly behaved children, who’s cheating on who and who’s lost money on the stock market. Then there’s the subject of who isn’t doing their job, who’s spending too much time flirting with the boss, and who’s up for promotion. So much gossip, so little time.

            Change the scenario to a group of parents standing outside the school waiting for their kids to emerge. What stories do they share? Who’s being talked about and why?

            These are the scenes that can make for a juicy story. There’s tension and drama. Dialogue and description. Cattiness and seriousness. So much opportunity waiting to be told.

            Your task is to write the water cooler scene. People it with enough characters to make for a lively discussion, but not too many for you to handle. Make sure that their disparate personalities and interests come forward.

            You might have them focus their energy talking about one individual, making for an easier writing. Or, if you’re feeling brave, allow the conversation to cover a wide variety of topics.

            Have fun with this one.

Pause to Reflect

Impulsivity can lead someone in the wrong direction, in a relationship, on a job search, or even out on a hike. Imagine a person who, after knowing someone for two minutes, jumps into a serious relationship, only later to discover that the lover is married. Or think of a situation in which an individual believes she heard a piece of scandalous news and then runs to the boss. Or a hiker who takes off without a map, intentionally goes off-trail because he thinks there might be a terrific view just around the boulder, only to become hopelessly lost.

Impulsive behaviors can get a person into serious trouble.

Now consider how different the results would be if, before rushing off, the person paused to reflect. For example, after writing an angry email, what if he put it aside for an hour, thought about it, then deleted it. The outcome would be completely different.

Your task is to write a story in which impulsive behaviors negatively impact your character’s life. Dialogue would be useful here to give readers insight into what your character is thinking. Descriptions are also important to allow readers to understand where the character is.

Have fun with this one.

The Big Decision

            You’re most of the way through the novel. The protagonist has struggled over many obstacles and seems to be on the road to success. Suddenly a chasm-sized barrier is in the way. She has two possible choices to make. She can turn around and retrace her steps or find a way across. A decision has to be made that could potentially alter her life.

            What she chooses is determined by the characteristics readers have seen in the individual. A timid person or one with low self-esteem will turn around while the character with tons of self-confidence will plow ahead.

            Your task is to write a scene in which your protagonist is confronted with a choice that would make a huge difference in his life.

            Begin by making a list of possible obstacles. They can be realistic or fantastical, depending upon the type of story that you are writing. Once you have chosen the primary obstacle, add possible solutions. Once again, solutions depend upon the genre you have chosen.

            Your character is proceeding along, the obstacle arises. A choice is made. Make sure that readers will believe the outcomes and that the emotions that your character experiences come through.

            Have fun with this one.

Dear Diary

            Journal writing has been popular for many, many years. Young girls were often given a diary in order to record their thoughts. They were encouraged to write every day, even if they had little of interest to report.

            Diaries were often padlocked with a tiny key. The girl would hide both the diary and the key in order to prevent parents and siblings from reading their thoughts.

            Diaries became important as a tool for historical research. By reading such records, historians are able to deduce what life was like during times of peace and war, during turbulent and peaceful times.

            Your task is to imagine the diary entries that your protagonist would write. These do not have to be complete stories, but rather figments of time capturing the emotions that the individual experienced. Later on these thoughts might inspire a story, but for now the task is to simply write what the person most likely worried about, dreamt of, feared and yearned for.

            Have fun with this one.

Following Directions

            From an early age we learn the rules, what to do, when to do it and when to stop. We are taught where to do something and for how long. Lining up begins when we are young and continues throughout the rest of our lives.

            What we are seldom taught, however, is how not following directions impacts others.

            For example, imagine you’re on a trip with forty other people. The tour director tells you to be on the bus before eight in the morning. You figure the bus won’t leave until 8:10, so you don’t bother to appear until 8:11. Your inability to follow directions impacts the rest of the group.

            All games have directions. Children are taught to follow them in order to make the game fair. What happens when someone feels above the “law”? They are called cheaters.

            The same term can be applied to adults as well.

            Your task is to write a scene in which following directions plays an important role. It might be interesting to have some characters who always comply, some who sometimes comply and some who seldom, if ever, comply. The combination builds tension, something needed to make a story interesting.

            Have fun with this one.