A Startling Situation

There are times when surprise appearances are fun. Think of a special birthday celebration when guests huddle in darkness waiting for the celebrant to appear so they can jump out, shouting, “Surprise!” Giggles often result and great fun is had by all.

But not all such appearances are met with joy. Imagine a scenario where your protagonist opens the door and a masked person barrels in with gun pointing at her chest. The resulting emotions are fear, terror and confusion. She might beg for her life as she’s forced to unlock the safe deposit box, pull out treasured jewelry or uncover family heirlooms.

Perhaps your protagonist is shopping at a technology store when hooded, armed thieves charge in, demanding that everyone fall to the floor. The gunmen waved weapons around and threaten anyone who raises their heads, just a bit.

Your task is to write a scene in which someone appears unexpectedly and threatens your protagonist. A good beginning place is the normal world, that situation in which she is doing something ordinary. That gives readers a chance to get to know who she is based upon her life, her abode and her thoughts as she goes about her day.

Something happens that shatters her peace and that puts her in danger, fighting for her life.

Details are important. You will also need dialogue so that we can hear the words the invader uses and what she says in response.

Have fun with this one.

Grandma’s Been Cooking

Imagine a scene in which company arrives for a family meal. Grandma insisted that she’d fix all the food, thank you very much. The problem is that she’s a notoriously horrible cook. She’s mastered an edible apple pie, a tolerable beef stroganoff, and a passable version of green bean casserole.

Perhaps Grandma’s a sous chef at a three-star restaurant. Her entrees are amazing, but are made from ingredients so obscure that the grandkids won’t touch therm. Because everything requires meticulous planning, she spends days preparing. Meanwhile she neglects cleaning the house, showering, setting the table. There are no drinks for kids or adults, but plenty of escargot.

What type of cook is your character’s grandmother? What does through his mind whenever Grandma invites him for dinner? Does he bring funeral potatoes over her protests? Does he pick up a lemon meringue pie from the bakery on his way even though Grandma’s feelings will be hurt?

Your task is to write the story. Begin with the invitation. Does it arrive by snail mail, email or phone? What emotions pass through your character’s mind when he responds? What does he do to prepare? Draw out the scene from beginning to end, showing us the party, the dialogue, the emotions of all invited.

This could be a humorous story or a heartbreaking one depending upon how you set the stage.

Have fun with this one.

Terrifying Experience

Imagine a time when you were so frightened that your heart pounded and you trembled in fear. Sweat beaded your brow and poured down your face. Tears filled your eyes. You tried to cry out, but no sound emerged.

What happened as time passed? Did your fear intensify or did it slowly ease? What helped you recover? Did you employ a calming strategy or did someone come to your aid?

Your character might also experience a terrifying event. When you tell the story, remember to use clues to make the scene tension-filled. Your readers want to feel the fear, to walk with your character throughout the entire process, from beginning to end.

Your task is to write the story. Begin with an everyday scene. Your character is going through life as usual when something happens that is so frightening, so terrifying that her fight or flight mechanism is triggered. She can flee, but she cannot shed her hear until readers have traveled in her shoes.

Have fun with this one.

 

Self-Compassion

The way you think about yourself influences the decisions you make and the things you do. It affects confidence levels which can either reduce or increase the likelihood of you trying new experiences.

Often our self-compassion comes to us as a voice in our head. What does yours tell you? What does it sound like? Is it male or female? Is it encouraging or discouraging? Does it inspire you or tear you down?

If you think of yourself in a kindly manner, you treat yourself with respect, kindness, compassion and with acceptance, even though you might not be as perfect as you would like to be someday.

Your task is to write about yourself. Imagine that you are with a good friend and you are feeling a little down. What would you like that friend to say or do? What is the likelihood that the friend will say anything? What is in that friend’s personality that controls how they will react to you?

Your scene is most likely imaginary, but it doesn’t have to be. You can write about something that happened as a nonfiction story or you can add fictional elements that switch the story to one that you wish had happened.

As you write, ask you friend to treat you with kindness, compassion and caring.

When you are finished, ask yourself if you could treat yourself this way. If not, why?

Have fun with this one.