Family Game Night

Many of us older folks grew up playing card and board games. Some of us might have pleasant memories of friendly competition and conversations shared that brought joy and laughter. If the games took place on a regular basis, we probably eagerly looked forward to time spent with family and friends doing something that we could enjoy together.

However not all game-playing is friendly. Imagine a scene in which players are teased, harassed and humiliated. People scream at each other as they declare dominance in terms of gaming skills. Alcoholic beverages are consumed intensifying the belittling. The atmosphere is tension-filled because of the highly competitive situation. Instead of looking forward to those nights, dread looms over the announcement that the time has come to repeat the performance.

Your task is to write a scene in which your character takes part in game night. You choose whether there is friendly competition or cut-throat activities. Or maybe there is a combination of the two.

Begin by setting the scene and placing your character in the midst of the action. Perhaps there is debate as to which game to play, who is in charge and how it is determined who will go first. If younger players are involved, maybe they need help. If so, who takes on that role?

Dialogue and description are key.

Have fun with this one.

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.

Arts and Entertainment

What we do in our leisure time depends upon where we live, what skills we have, and what options are available. In early societies not all people were literate so reading books would have been limited to scholars and the educated wealthy. Many artists lived in monasteries so as to escape the tedious tasks of daily life.

Music has been around for a long time. What we sing, what instruments we play depends upon socioeconomic status, preferences, popularity and access. Wandering minstrels brought music to isolated villages, often relating tales of great deeds. Talented musicians entertained royalty in drawing rooms and during grand balls.

Painting, pottery making, games, fairs, shows allowed the average person to express themselves while creating useful gadgets and also provided forms of relaxation.

When building your world, take into consideration what talents your characters have, how they appreciate the skills of others, and how art and entertainment affects daily life.

Your task is to write a scene in which your character either learns a new skill or displays a skill he is already proficient in. It can be humorous, especially if he performs in an inn before inebriated crowds, or it can be solemn if he plays for a special ceremony.

Details are important. We need to see, hear, taste, and touch the things that your characters experience. Reread. Does the scene work? Are there sufficient sensory details so that the world comes alive?

Have fun with this one.

 

Living Conditions

Picture a pastoral scene where tidy thatched cottages are nestled between rows of green hedges. Walk inside and take a look around. Useful pottery lines handmade shelves. A kettle hangs over a fire and items of clothing hang from wooden pegs high up on the wall.

Now imagine a teeming city. Perhaps the streets are muddy or maybe they are made with cobblestones. Wooden buildings several stories high line both sides. Laundry hangs out of some of the windows. Children’s voices echo as they kick a ball down the street. Inside the floor is a dingy linoleum or maybe stained carpet. Cooking smells mingle creating an unpleasant odor.

Very different living conditions, right? Where your story takes place influences how people live. The wealthy will not have the same needs as the poor. This is an important element to consider when writing a story.

Your task is to first create a list of possible living conditions for your story. Include enough detail that it comes alive. Next select the one that will make the most interesting scenario and write.

You could take us down memory lane or off to a futuristic settlement. Maybe you prefer a certain historical period and so want to use those conditions in your story.

When you are finished, reread looking for the details that allow readers to walk with your character.

Have fun with this one.

A Hike in the Park

The day begins beautifully. The sun is shining, the sky blue, the temperature mild. With water and sunglasses you head into the woodsy park, intent on reaching the top of the peak because you’ve heard of the sweeping views of the bay. But on the way something happens.

Imagine your worst-case scenario. Perhaps there’s a rut in the trail and when you’re watching a deer bound down a hill, you step in it and twist your ankle. It might be broken or badly sprained, but whatever the cause, there is no way you can hike out without help.

Maybe you encounter a mountain lion, coyote or bear. It snarls and flashes huge teeth. You can’t go forward as it’s blocking your way.

Think of the stories to tell!

Your task is to send your character on a hike that begins benignly but then takes a bad turn. She might be in terrible peril or she might be stunned or injured. The one requirement is that she must be afraid and unable to proceed without help.

To make the story more interesting, you should have at least two characters so that there can be dialogue. Conversation will allow us to see the situation through words spoken.

Remember to include details as this is a story that demands sensory input to enable your readers to be there and experience the situation alongside the characters.

Have fun with this one.

Magic in Your World

Most fantasy stories include magic in some form. As a writer of fantasy, you must consider various aspects of magic, such as who wields it, to what degree, and to what purpose. Also weigh at what cost to the user, especially if the user experiences weakness and needs time to recover in order to be back at full power.

In order to be believable, magic must be consistent. For example, if the wielder can quell fire, why doesn’t he when the cabin in which he is sheltering is set on fire by an enemy? If magic is unpredictable, that might be fodder for an unusual story, but will readers buy into it?

A good way to keep track of the ways in which magic plays into the drama is by keeping notes and checking them frequently. Record the person, power, cost and use. As characters’’ powers change, remember to return to your chart and list them as well.

Another factor is public attitude toward magic in your world. Is it revered or feared? Is it a common trait or rare? Is it honed through learning and practice or wild and uncontrollable?

Your task is to create a list that documents who has magic, what type and how it is used. Once this is complete, write a story in which magic influences the outcome, either positively or negatively.

Don’t overdo it. A little magic can be more powerful than a devastating wizards’ dual.

Have fun with this one.

Forms of Government

Every society has at least one leader. How that leader came to power is determined through the type of government that exists. For example, in a matriarchy women are most powerful within the government and within families. A geriatric society holds elders in high esteem. Many fantasy stories feature cruel dictators who torture and imprison enemies in order to maintain tight control.

One way to decide what type of government your world will have is by doing research into various forms that have existed throughout history. Model yours after the one that you feel most comfortable writing about.

Remember that there can also be shadow groups that are trying to influence or seize power. You can have secret societies, militias, strong religious leaders and guilds or unions that control decisions made.

Your task is, once you’ve chosen the form of government, to write a scene in which conflict arises because of a challenge to the throne or seat of power. The purpose of the scene is to propel the story forward, to provide tension through obstacles that your main character has to overcome.

Have fun with this one.