We’ve all had this happen at least once in our lifetime: transportation failure. Your car refuses to start when you have an appointment to meet. You’re cruising down the highway when your tire blows out. Your flying your airplane when bam! one of your engines goes out. Well, you get the point. And when these moments occur, we are normally assaulted with a variety of emotions, depending on the severity of the situation — anger, fear, terror, sorrow, annoyance, stress, etc. Once those emotions are past or have changed, we then have to react to the fallout of suddenly being stranded.
For this prompt, you are going to have your character or characters experience a transportation failure, be it Humvee, tank, spaceship, horse or even yak. Start with the moment of the failure and then follow through to the consequences of the failure. How does your character — or character(s) — react to being stranded (you get to pick the location for better or for worse).
If you post a response to this prompt, share it in the comments! I will share any responses that I see on my blog (complete with a short bio of the writer and blurb about their blog) and on twitter.
It is amazing what a simple shift in point of view can do to a scene, whether it is giving the POV to a new character who is also in the scene or it is implementing a complete narrative mode switch from first person to third person. This prompt requires you to pick a scene or short story that you have wrote and look it at it from another perspective. Pick a different character or narrative mode to tell the same scene or story. It should read drastically different, especially if you switch to another character, because every character is going to have a unique way of acting and thinking.
By the end of the prompt, you should have a deeper appreciation for the inner workings of that scene and possibly another character.
Your character — new or preexisting — awakes in a location they have never been before, and they have no idea where it is or how they arrived in their current predicament. In their pocket, they have a limited amount of local currency (enough to buy two meals, though they are not aware of this); besides that, they only have the clothes on their backs. The language spoken by the locals is one your character does not know.
How does your character react to this unforeseen change in their life? Do they lay low and try to figure out how they ended up in this location? Do they have enemies that they automatically assumed dump them there? Or do they go along with the flow as it were and walk about at leisure exploring their new sights? How do they handle the unknown currency in their pocket? Do they hoard it for future use, choosing instead to hunt through garbage and/or steal what they need? Or do they use the currency, possibly getting swindled? Most importantly, how do they communicate with the locals (if they decide to do so)? And don’t even think about universal communication devices a la Star Trek; they would either be broken or removed prior to the dump.
Follow this prompt through and feel free to make it as long or short as you wish. What better way to see what a character is made of than to thrust them into the unknown!
Got a really good response to the prompt? Share it!
“Remember me as you pass by,
As you are now, so once was I,
As I am now, so you will be,
Prepare for death and follow me.”
Obituaries can say a lot about a person: who their parents were, who their relative are (plus if any have predeceased them), where they were born, who they married (if they did at all), where they worked, affiliations they had, hobbies they enjoyed, their religion, how they lived, and of course, where and how they died.
For this writing prompt, write a paid obit (a lengthy obit) for your character — you might be surprised by what you discover about your character.
Up to this point, the writing prompts I have posted have been geared toward improving a writer’s knowledge of their character(s); this time, however, I’m going to shake things up a bit and have the focus be on world-building.
And here is the prompt: You are a tour guide for your world and will be directing a group of people who do not exist in your world to five or 10 places in your world. Write down these five or 10 places and then explain why you would show them to your visitors. You must relay the following information: What are some of the sights you would show them in these places? What recreation is available in these places? What is there in these sites to quench the interests of different age groups? What foods or eateries would you highlight? What historic sites would you stop at and why?
Expand on the questions as you please: After all, the more you know ;).
[Writer’s Note: Another late night at work, this time doing a chicken photo-shoot — yes, you heard me correctly. Tomorrow there will be another character series post, and I will get caught up on responding to all the comments, at least by Saturday.]
Your character finds a genie lamp and can make three wishes. Write a short story detailing what they wish for and if their wishes come with a price. Follow the same rules from Disney’s Aladdin: no bringing people back from the dead, no making someone fall in love with someone and no wishing for more wishes.
(Writer’s Note: Today’s post has to be a writing prompt, I had to take on two town meetings for a co-worker so have no time to prepare a writing article, but I have a really good one in mind that will hopefully be posted tomorrow.)
Through some misfortune, your character (or a group of characters) becomes stranded/lost in a dense forest, the nearest sign of civilization is hundreds of miles away, and to top things off, they have very few resources and only enough provisions for two days — four if they ration carefully. Write a short story that relays how they came into their predicament and how they proceed to survive and find their way.
With this scenario, I challenge writers to be honest about their character’s survival skills; let’s be honest not everyone has them. For many authors, it is hard to harm their “babies,” but sometimes you just have to push your babies out of the nest (P.S. Please, do not push real, living babies out of nests — that is just wrong). This little story can end pretty badly, but hopefully, in the process you will learn more about your characters particularly how they cope with stress or being in what could very possibly be hopeless situation.
May the muse be with you. Also bonus points for adding a bear to the story. Why? I just like bears.
Which way is north again?
Your character (or characters) stumbles upon a mouse in their home, write a short story that shows their reaction to the tiny creature and then detail what happens next, e.g., do they try to kill it, save it, befriend, and so on.
[Writing prompt inspired by my own ordeal…]
Eek! A mouse!
This is one of my favorite writing prompts as it transcends genres — after all, fires occur no matter the era — and tells so much about a characters and what they hold dear. Here is how it works:
Pick one of your characters. Now that character’s abode is on fire. What one item would they try to save?
I wrote a little scene with my character retrieving a priceless artifact from his residence, which was a relic of his life before his current situation. It was also a big relic, which required an extra set off hands that were pressed into duty.
What would your character save?
[Writer’s Note: Tomorrow will launch my character series if all goes as planned. The series will explore little details that make a character all the more “real” to the reader. The first post will include an introduction, in addition to how family makes a person who they are.]