Deep In Debt

            A new car every year, shopping sprees where thousands of dollars are spent, investing in questionable start-ups, and trips abroad every few months rack up so much debt that it’s nearly impossible to repay. Add to that gambling at the race track, membership at an exclusive country club and the yacht that he just had to have.

            Maybe it’s not a lavish lifestyle, but rather medical bills for cosmetic recontractions, cancer treatments or surgeries for the kids, placing tubes in the ears.

            Whatever the reason, your character is deep in debt. How she handles the situation says a lot about her character.

            Does she negotiate with each lender, agreeing to whittle down the amount owed? Perhaps she offers favors in payment, declares bankruptcy or marries a wealthy person who can pay off her debt.

            Your task is to write a story in which your protagonist finds himself in substantial debt. The amount has to be so large that he has no way to settle the bill. Of course, that amount depends upon the individual’s situation.

            A person having little might owe a thousand, and be unable to pay. A person owning a lot might owe millions.

            Both situations make for interesting stories.

            Have fun with this one.

Paying the Bills

Perhaps you are fortunate enough to be able to pay your bills on time and so have excellent credit. When you need a new car, no problems. You are automatically approved for a loan. You decide to buy a condo and the lender smiles as they hand you papers to sign.

Maybe you’re struggling to pay the rent and put food on the table. You pay off the gas company so you have heat and light but postpone payment to the credit card company. You know this puts you in risk of losing the card, but you have no choice.

Your task is to write a story in which paying the bills plays an important role. You can tell the story of an individual who has no financial worries until something happens that puts him at risk. Or you can share the concerns of someone who is just getting by.

The important point is to ensure that your readers feel the joy or the pain, that they walk in the shoes of your protagonist. Dialogue would be important as well as narrative descriptions. Seek a balance between the two.

Have fun with this one.

Financial Insecurity

I’ve often heard it said that many people are one paycheck away from being homeless. This is especially true in high cost-of-living areas such as in San Francisco and its neighboring communities.

When you create a character, you need to keep in mind how much money she has and how well off she really is.

For example, does he live in his car? Rely on food banks and kitchens to survive? Or does he live in a high-rent townhouse in the middle of Silicon Valley, the Bay Area’s center of technology?

How financially secure a person is affects what she does on a daily basis. It controls the things she thinks about, including her worries and her woes.

Your task is to create two different characters. One has almost everything she needs to live comfortably. You will determine how wealthy she is and how this impacts her daily life.

Your other character lives paycheck to paycheck. He might drink or use drugs. He might be emotionally fragile.

After you’ve created these characters, put at least one of them in a story. Be as realistic as you can be. Have things happen to the character that test that financial security.

Once you’ve written that story, then put the other character in a different story. Again, have things happen that test security.

Have fun with this one!