Sunday, October 27, 2013

Can't Get Rid of....

Today's challenge: create a pest!

Ever have a stray dog follow you everywhere? How about a person? Ever know anyone who talked too much, way too much? Ever think you got away from someone, only to turn about and find him or her right behind you?

What sorts of things do pests do? A pest is not unfriendly, but rather annoying and amorous. If he or she were unfriendly your character would simply dismiss him or her, or ask the person to leave. Make your character feel genuinely guilty about getting rid of the pest (or wanting to do so), and genuinely plagued at his or her presence.

In a turn of plot, will your pest save the day? What will the pestilence do to redeem its place in your tale?

Write on! No copyright here. Let's get scribbling!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Running Out of Time

Bill was panting. He pushed his legs forward against their dull swinging aches. His side cramped as if it were gripped by cold, strong fingers, and his saliva was beginning to thicken on the back of his tongue as he breathed gulps of raw, frigid air that dried his teeth. He was slowing down; he knew that, but his will to force himself forward did not match his ability to do so.

They were gaining on him quickly. In two minutes or less they would have him. The unthinkable outcome spurred adrenalin through his veins, although his body's response to it was less than he desired.

His eyes glazed. He looked left and then right. No where to hide and catch his breath. Not even a leaf or half a bush.

*end sample*

Dear Reader,

Have you ever dreamed you were running from people or wild animals, only to find yourself out of strength and soon to be unable to continue? Is there any way you can use this in a story? How would you rescue the hero in this scenario?

1. He could find a hiding lace
2. A friend could show up with help
3. His pursuers could meet an untimely and unexpected demise
4. He could awaken from his nightmare
5. He could be caught, and the pursuers could:
     a. let him go
     b. make a mistake resulting in his escape
     c. turn out to be good after all
     d. cause him to join their side

Play with these ideas and come up with more. Write on!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I have always enjoyed playing with incognito characters when I write. There is something so liberating about a mask. It lets your inner self sneak past the presuppositions of others and make itself heard.

What does your character have to say that he or she can say best from this advantage? Suppose you met a group comprised of all your best friends and worst enemies. With your visage and voice disguised, you were invited to stand before them and give a speech. What would you say? Would you single some of them out or give a message designed for the entire group?

Nearly as important as what your character does while in disguise is how and when he or she is unveiled. You must unveil or at least partially unveil a character to please an audience, even if the person who learns his or her true identity doesn't survive to tell anyone else. It is absolutely vital to the vivacity of your work.

And so to you who know me best: write on!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Take a Chance

Nothing's left to chance when the fates of the story's inhabitants are securely in the hands of the writer. Yet a chancy outcome is exactly what readers need. Being unsure of the story's consequence is why we keep reading, keep wanting to know what happens next.

What can we do to add chance to our tale? Spin a dial, roll the dice, flip a coin? What can we do to enrich our plot with uncertainty?

Who will win the race? Will the snake bite or not? Will the lost boy find food? Will the tornado hit or miss? It seems obvious, yet some stories are all too hum drum and predictable.

I have made lists of crises and dilemmas just for the purpose of pumping up my story craft. Will you do the same?

Write on!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tasty Treats

One of my very favorite stories, which I will not name for copyright's sake, contains a reference to an obscure treat that entraps a lad by its very taste. Many fairy tales have treats: Hansel and Gretel nibble the witch's gingerbread house, Red Riding Hood brings a basket of goodies to her grandma, and the Gingerbread Man runs away with a posse to chase him.

Where do treats play a role in your book? Do they? Have you given much thought to the kinds of things your characters like to eat?

What about the antagonist? Does the bad guy have a sweet tooth? A taste for apples? A hunger for ham? (No wait, that's the Big Bad Wolf.)

Write on! No copyrights here. Use any ideas, free of charge!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Imaginary Music

As she sang the notes rose and fell in crystalline clarity as though each one were the essence and soul of a distant silver bell. (excellent songstress)

The tones crashed and wavered in a fractured mass of twisted string and amplification. (angry rock guitar)

The horn went flat. It reverberated somewhere in his adenoids, then approached the correct scale only to fall far south of a C. (terrible horn player)

What can you do with words? Can you make someone actually hear the music in your novel?

Write on!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Clever Reverses

People always love a good rags to riches story. Why not reverse the fortunes of several characters? Let the poor become rich while the rich become poor. Let the weak become strong while the bullies become helpless. Let the beautiful become unbearably ugly while the ugly become immeasurably beautiful. And let the good church folk become bar hoppers and gamblers while the riff raff get together and create a successful mission outpost. See what happens when all these fortunes reverse.

Write on!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Pioneer Mystery

Extremely evil outlaws roamed the old American west.

Enter Lady Lisa. She's as tough as they are, only tougher. Oops! Spoiler! Don't let your audience know till the end that it's she who catches them and does various things to them, things that make everyone split a gut with laughter.

1. One bad guy was found locked in a trunk with an air hole to breathe, and mailed via bumpy stage coach all the way to the other end of the continent. Visit and revisit his journey. Always let there be a sound (thunder, barking dogs, fireworks) that drowns out his yells for help whenever he's near a town. When alone with the drivers, they turn a deaf ear because they have been paid extra gold by a mysterious person to keep on driving the box.

2. One bad guy is found hanging, alive, from a tree. He is positioned in a harmless harness. His jacket pockets are filled with enough food and drink, if he meters it out, to last (hopefully) until someone finds him and releases him. When he is finally found he has been wet down thoroughly by the rain.

3. One bad guy is found covered from head to toe in horse manure after having walked a long distance on foot from a remote place. When he arrives at the town the sheriff and deputies throw soap flakes and buckets of water at him in an effort to tone down the stink enough to lock him up.

These are just a few ideas. Of course the bad guys, if they survive and unite, may seek revenge. To keep the novel lighthearted and funny, their attempt must backfire and cause them even more discomfort and mayhem!

Write on! No copyrights here. Absolutely none.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Design, Designer

A mystery. Someone has found a magnificently designed object. This could be a purse, a pair of shoes, a dress, a car, or anything you can imagine. The hunt is on! Someone must have designed it.

Have a team of know-nothing scientists follow those searching for the answer, postulating on how this object or these objects must needs have been dropped from outer space. This just gives a comical twist.

In the hunt for the designer, have your plot make many twists and turns along the way. Have phonies trying to take credit for this accomplishment. Have the real person within reach once or twice but unrecognized by those who search for him or her.

That's all. Write on! No copyrights here!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Good Luck

What if someone were so incredibly fortunate that he found all his good fortune to be completely boring? Teamed with him are many characters whose fortunes are unluckier than usual. His friends envy his luck, and he envies their capacity for adventure. Anytime anyone needs help they can always call on Mr. Good Luck (you supply the name). He is helpful and will always do what he can, which is a lot. Because of his extra luck, everything he does succeeds 100% of the time, so his attempts at helping have to succeed. The main variation is how and when he solves the problem. The audience knows without a doubt he will win. What's up in the air is how long it will take and whether or not the person being helped will be glad of his solution.

Write on! No copyrights here! Write away!