It’s getting late in the month. Either you’re ticking along with no problems or you’re getting a little desperate by now. Either way, this fill-in-the-blanks prompt should help you come up with a story today.
A [adjective, unlike you] [noun, like you] decides to [action – something reasonable] except [something unreasonable]
- Here’s my example: a fitness-obsessed 40-something woman decides to train for a marathon except her husband objects.
- I’ll have to drill down into why her husband might object, what kind of woman is she, what she thinks running a marathon will do for her, what she will never do, what she needs to do, what the state of her marriage is now and will be if she ignores his objections, if that matters to each of them. Then I’ll have to decide on her voice, whether she is strident, aggressive, funny, charming, wheedling, whiney, a doormat. I’ll have to decide when to enter this story (when she tells him her plans, when she’s already half way through the race reflecting on how she got there, when she’s in divorce court, retelling the story…)
- You can flip the ‘unlike me’ and ‘like me’ and the ‘reasonable/unreasonable’ tags if that makes the process more fun for you.
- Even the most mundane of ideas can become something wonderful if you think hard enough about pieces and let the characters come alive.
- Don’t over-write this. Think hard, then imply. Remember, if you’re telling a story to your best friend, you don’t give her much backstory, and you certainly don’t give her both sides of the story. Write this story that way.
- This story will work best if you let one voice ring out strongly, with all the whitewashing and self-justification we do without noticing!