Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Road Trip!

Sometime to move the plot along, you also need to move the characters.  They can go to new locations to look for clues, have a meal, or run for their lives... whatever the plotline calls for.

In the prompt below, describe where the character is going, what's unusual about the trip, and then throw a wrench in the plan.  Does the transportation break down? Do the police stop him for speeding?  Have fun, and keep writing!

Prompt: Road Trip

There was nothing to do except go.  If he stayed around here much longer, people would become suspicious.  Quickly, he...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Don't Exaggerate

If used well, hyperbole can make a dramatic point in your writing.  If overused though, the reader will be wary and dismissive.  The shark was how big, and the boat was leaking form how many holes, exactly? Yeah, right.

In the prompt below, look at each element (plot, character, setting, etc.) and pick one to exaggerate.  Have fun, and keep writing!

Prompt: Don't Exaggerate

He ran the last three blocks home, limping the final few feet on a hurt ankle.  Rushing up three steps, through the open doorway, and into the living room, he stumbled to a stop in front of his girlfriend and started talking...

Monday, June 30, 2014

Best of Intentions

Some of the most interesting writing can center around a character's intentions.  Did she mean to sideswipe the car?  Was he being helpful because he likes her, or just to be polite?  In every case, you can write several paragraphs or pages of dialogue, debating what a character's motivation was.

In the prompt below, argue for and against likely motivations of the main character.  Have fun, and keep writing!

Prompt: Best of Intentions

"He meant to do it," the soccer mom whined.  "I know he did.  Your son knocked mine to the ground intentionally!"

"My son didn't no such thing," the wronged father yelled back.  "Your boy just didn't get out of the way!"

The referee suppressed the urge to show the headache developing at the raised voices.  It was bad enough that the fans and parents yelled encouragement.  At least that was a happy yelling.  Somehow, angry yelling was always worse.  Luckily, the referee knew exactly what had happened.  Unluckily, neither parent would believe him...

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Beware: Clichés Ahead

It's okay to use clichés in your writing, but not as a substitute for coming up with good dialogue.  "The building is surrounded," and "beauty is only skin-deep" both have their appropriate uses, but there is probably a more interesting way to convey those messages in your writing.

For example, as a Star Trek fan, I appreciate the danger of the Borg, but their line about resistance gets a bit repetitive.  Something that is meant to instantly identify an enemy instead becomes trite and boring.

In the prompt below, complete the scene without using any clichés.  Have fun, and keep writing!

Prompt: Clichés Ahead

The cat was far too curious for her own good.  Her eyes tracked the beams of sunlight, daring from dust mote to silvery spider's web until she spotted a likely bit of prey...

Friday, June 27, 2014

Nice Try

Sometimes it helps the pacing, plot, or tension to write a scene where your main character fails.  This can be entertaining to the reader if that failure is an unexpected one.  No, don't write that an expert runner trips over his own feet, or that a chef forgets the main dish and burns it in the oven.

Instead, make the failure something outside the character's control.  The audience will empathize more, because everyone has had a day where nothing seemed to go right for them.

In the prompt below, write up an unusual way for the main character to make a mistake.  Have fun, and keep writing!

Prompt: Nice Try

She should have known better than to get so close, but it seemed like a simple enough task.  Janine climbed deeper into the giant engine, prying back flaps and twisting off lids, looking for the elusive problem.  When people brought this kind of vehicle in, the trouble could only be one of a few things - but so far, every area she checked was in perfect operating condition.  Maybe it was...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Well... that was weird.

Setting the scene for your main character to find a clue can be dramatic or subtle.  The most important part is to draw the reader's attention to what is unusual about the setting, circumstances, or other characters.

For example, if your main character walks into a restaurant and then immediately leaves, what convinced him to choose a different place?  Was it seeing a rat dart between the tables?  Or did he see someone he wanted to avoid?

In the writing prompt below, describe the setting and/or other characters and draw attention to the strange, noteworthy aspects, the things that will help your main character decide what to do next.  Have fun, and keep writing!

Prompt:  Well... that was weird.

The door wasn't locked.  That wasn't unusual - not for this time of day - but the eerie quiet of the place was strange.  At lunchtime, this restaurant was packed and loud.  Chatter of customers almost drowned out the raised voices of the kitchen staff and waiters, who shouted lunch orders to each other.  Instead of dozens of people, I saw...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Steeped In Tradition

One good way to set a scene is to describe a tradition that the main characters are familiar with.  The tradition can be one that most people know about, or something completely new.  Either way, it presents an opportunity to show backstory and character development through internal dialogue or by having characters reminisce.

In the prompt below, try writing up the scene both ways: once from a single character's perspective and once with two or more characters discussing the tradition.

Have fun, and keep writing!

Prompt:  Steeped in Tradition

Without meaning to, students at the boarding school made the first snow of the season into a tradition.  They could hardly wait to...