Word Scramble Prompt

            Take the words explosive, terrified, Pepto Bismal, 346 and police station. Or, if these don’t inspire you, flip through the dictionary and write down the first five words you find.

            Your task is to use the words in a story. You can add endings or change the tense, but the words must be used, once you have settled on your five.

            Your story can be funny or serious, an outright comedy or a tragedy. It can be realistic or fantasy. Choose the genre and story type that you find easiest to write.

            Have fun with this one.

Bad Weather

            Try to recall a time when you wanted to be somewhere, or go somewhere, but a bad storm was coming. You are afraid to leave as you might get caught in it, but you also want to get home as soon as possible. You might pack the car, listen to every weather report, all the while trying to make the right decision.

            Do you stay or do you go? What happens either way can make for an interesting story.

            Your task is to write a story in which your character is facing bad weather that has the potential to affect travel plans.

            Be sure to use lots of dialogue as this is the stuff that can lead to heated arguments. Once the decision is made, bring on the storm and let the emotions play out. Perhaps tornado forces them to hide in the basement, or the snow storm catches them without chains and therefor they slide off the road. Perhaps there are  flight delays that strand them at an airport where tempers flare.

            All kinds of exciting things can happen.

            Have fun with this one.

The Chef

             When someone brags about their cooking, our mouths begin to water. Prime Rib? Yum. Crème Brule? Yummier.             Imagine being invited to their house for dinner. You salivate over the food expected, wondering what marvels the chef will prepare.            What happens if the meal isn’t? What if something seems a bit off? Do you eat the meat anyway, wondering if it was a bit spoiled? Do you grimace at the off-color appearance of the grilled veggies?            Your task is to write the story of the chef who isn’t that great. The beginning is with the bragging, the talk of how wonderful he is, with the invitation to a meal.            Perhaps formal invitations are sent out only to a select few. Guest bring nothing as the meal will be stupendous!            Things go wrong, however. Imagine watching him standing at the barbeque, dropping a piece of chicken on the ground, wiping it off, returning it to the grill. Does his guests eat it? Or shy away?            What if the salads sit in the sun? What if the ice waters down the tea? What if the desert melts?            Many misadventures can arise.            Have fun with this one. 

Thrift Store Treasures

            Many people enjoy going to thrift stores, looking for unexpected finds. They finger through racks of clothing, hoping for something they didn’t know they needed, but now love.

            They explore the shelves of dishes, toys, bedding and even hats, eagerly searching for just the right thing to put in their houses.

            Sometimes they go home empty-handed, but almost always they find something.

            Your task is to write the story of an avid thrifter. Make the character come alive through the exploration of one thrift shop after another. Have a companion go with. That way they can share what they find, laughing at the downright unusual, rejoicing with each discovery that makes them smile.

            Clothing has to be tried-on. Send the shoppers to the dressing “room”, which often is no more than a curtained-off area.

            There should be laughs when it doesn’t hang right, and smiles when it fits perfectly.

            Your task is to tell the story of these two shoppers, from beginning to end. It would be nice to throw in a little tension, such as what happens when they want the same item.

            Have fun with this one.

A Strange Day

            Many children’s books revolve around something unusual that happens, something that takes the child character completely by surprise. Often dreams are the catalyst, but there can be other triggers as well.

            Children love to play make-believe. They fabricate complex, ever-evolving stories with magic, beasts, queens and kings. Knights and dragons. All kinds of creatures, large and small.

            Your task is to write a children’s story based on the premise that something strange happens, something unexpected and so unusual that the child had no way to predict the inciting incident.

            Have fun with this one.

Deciding Where to Vacation

            Some of us are influenced by the countless brochures that flood our mailboxes. We turn pages, and then, a yearned-for trip appears! Perhaps we’d never thought of a cruise around the Cape, but the pictures look awesome.

            We also take advice from friends and family. If someone brags about a trip to Nepal, we might investigate and then go. Or not.

            And then there are those of us who look at a map of the world, drop a finger on a spot, and then that’s where we’ll go.

            Your task is to write a story in which your protagonist decides to go on a vacation. She might investigate using a variety of methods, but the old-let’s-spin-the-globe and see where it lands might make for an interesting story.

            She would have to research the best time to go, the expected weather, things to do and see and accommodations, including travel.

            To make it more interesting, she invites someone to come along. This could be a parent, best friend or casual acquaintance. Maybe she finds a class being offered on the area, meets a group that’s going, and joins them.

            Make something unexpected happen so that there’s drama. If could be a sudden downpour that wipes out the main road, a romance that goes wrong, a heated discussion of where to go and how did we not find the way.

            Have fun with this one.

Distinctive Fragrance

            Try to recall a time when wearing cologne was commonplace for both men and women. Put yourself in that time and place. Which ones did you like? Which ones made your nose wrinkle?

Which lingered long after the wearer had passed through?

For example, back when Old Spice was quite popular with men, when you were near someone wearing it, how did it make you feel?

Now consider a woman wearing Channel #5.

Your task is to write a story in which a character is wearing a distinctive cologne. That cologne must play a major role. For example, what if the burglar had been wearing the Channel? Or the rapist the Old Spice?

What images would your victim call forth?

Include as many sensory details as you can.

Have fun with this one.

Examine House Listings

            Whenever you get stuck on setting, look up available houses in the neighborhood. Take a good look at the photos of each room. Check out the exterior as well, whether it’s a single-family home, an apartment or a condo.

            Can you picture your character living there?

            What happens inside the residence? A murder? A hot love affair? The birth of a child? Perhaps a devastating fire.

            Adapt the residence to fit your setting. Change the modern two-story house to an enchanted mansion on a street of Victorians. If it’s in perfect condition, give it a serious flaw, like a leaky roof or bathroom tiles that collapse inward when cleaned.

            How large of a family do you envision living there? If it’s a studio, perhaps you cram a family of four inside as it’s all they can afford. Or maybe a successful business woman buys the triplex in a new, swanky neighborhood.

            Now that you’ve established character and setting, craft the story. Make something intriguing happen, something that draws readers in.

            Invite other characters to populate your story, but make them all different, with spooky characteristics that clash.

            Have fun with this one.

Dealing with a Phobia

            Many of us are scared of heights, spiders and yapping dogs. We might be terrified of boats, riding on public transit or walking alone at night. The degree to which our phobias impact our lives varies from person to person.

            Seeing any size dog might cause your character to cross the street or turn around and go back home. A spider crawling on the wall might temporarily freeze your character, increase heart rate and impact breathing, paralyzing her until she forces herself to grab a shoe and smash it repeatedly.

            There’s a difference between not climbing a ladder and not going out after sunset. The first might prevent him from cleaning the gutters while the second might stop him from enrolling in classes at the university, accepting a longed-for job or jogging in a nearby park.

            Your task is to write a story in which the phobia seriously impacts your character’s life. Perhaps if when she steps outside and hears a dog barking somewhere, she goes back inside and slams the door. Maybe she stays there, missing dinner with friends or even not going to work, which results in broken friendships or a lost job.

            It might be interesting to hear how your character explains his phobia to others, so include dialogue. Sensory details will be paramont, so make sure we hear, smell, see, feel, and possibly taste very bit of that fear.

            Have fun with this one.

Painting Dilemma

It’s time to repaint a room in the house. You’ve got an idea of what you’d like, but your partner/landlord has something completely different in mind.

Perhaps you’re thinking of an intense color, such as a deep burgundy or a navy blue. In your mind, you see one wall of the living room in one of those colors, the rest a variety of white. You believe that the contrast will make the room look bigger, more alive, more welcoming. More modern.

The other, however, only wants pastels because she thinks dark colors are too hard to cover up if selling/leasing.

Your task is to write a story in which the subject of painting is the main discussion point. Imagine the characters visiting paint stores, looking at sample strips, and perhaps bringing home tiny cans of different colors.

Things can’t go smoothly, of course, if there’s to be tension that hook readers.

Using a combination of narrative and a heavy reliance on dialogue, draw readers into the dilemma and keep them there. Be sure to tell the end! What color do they eventually settle on and why!

Have fun with this one.