Day 26- Like a Wrecking Ball by Brenda Rech

Choose a character to observe this scenario

The Prompt

A wrecking ball is parked in front of a 100-year old building. You are an architect, the wrecking ball operator, or a homeless person? What are your best memories and deepest regrets?


Brenda Rech

Brenda is happily married with two beautiful daughters, three dogs, two cats and a bird named Amy Farrah Fowler. Her flower gardens are forever at the beginner’s stages as she would rather hike with her husband and dogs or explore her writing. Her favorite breakfast is crispy bacon and strawberry jam on white toast. She is currently working on her first novel and has a monthly newsletter ‘Thru the Window’

Join the discussion: what will you do with today’s prompt OR how did it go? Need support? Post here!

bingo 26

Day 25- Found In Translation by Carey Marie Shannon

Write a story in which two characters talk different languages

The Prompt

Communication can be one of the greatest challenges of the human race with roughly 7000 spoken languages in the world. Have you ever been in a country where you did not speak the language but needed to find a location or service? Have you ever helped a non-native speaker of the language in your country purchase an item or find the right train? Perhaps the communication resulted in gestures, pointing at an item or drawing pictures to convey a message. Write a story where two characters speak a different language and must communicate for the most part without words. It can be in first person from the point of view of one of the characters. If it helps, draw from your own personal experience(s).


Carey Marie Shannon

Carey Shannon loves to use her writing to make humorous connections between items that may appear completely unrelated. A feat that is easy for a serious Elvis fan and frequent blood donor.
Carey Shannon loves to write about humorous connections between items and subjects in life that may appear to be completely unrelated. A feat that is easy for an Elvis super fan and frequent blood donor. She has been a member of the Story A Day community since 2020 and now hopes to provide some inspiration quirkiness to other writers.

Join the discussion: what will you do with today’s prompt OR how did it go? Need support? Post here!

bingo 25

Day 14- What If? by Leslie Stack

In today’s writing prompt will you grant your character the power to change the past?

The Prompt

“If only I could go back and do it over again, I would…

” How many times have we said that to ourselves?

In JK Rowling’s “The Prisoner of Azkaban,” Hermione Granger had a time turner necklace where she could turn back time to allow her to attend more classes, but more importantly, save two lives.

Whether it’s changing one seemingly small decision or a whole lifetime of decisions, there is usually one thing that we would change if we could.

Something that would make a difference in just one life or many more.

What is your character’s one thing?


Leslie Stack

Leslie Stack is a writer, musician, camper, and teacher who loves being on the water or in a museum. You can usually find her doing research behind dark glasses on a park bench. She lives in a house in Pennsylvania with her husband where the books are plotting a takeover.

Here’s your next Bingo Piece. Download the pic, print it out and paste it onto your bingo sheet. Then share a picture of it on social media with #storyadaybingo

Join the discussion: what will you do with today’s prompt OR how did it go? Need support? Post here!

Day 13- Channel your Inner Dr Dolittle by Carey Shannon

Write a story in whcih a character talks to an animal

The Prompt

Dr. Dolittle author Hugh Lofting showed the magic of communicating with animals through his series of children’s books.

The relationship between animals and humans can range from affection to terror.

As pets, animals can sometimes be our greatest confidantes and comforters.

In the wilds of a forest or jungle, they can be our greatest enemy.

Write a story where a person speaks to an animal as if they were another person.

  • Does the animal respond with grunts, growls or by scratching the ground?
  • How does the person interpret the nonverbal responses of the animal?
  • Some ideas include a person confiding a secret to their cat or someone crying to their dog after a bad day at work.
  • A person could also plead with a bear or tiger for their life.
  • There is always the hunter and the hunted.
  • A human could also help an animal in distress or vice versa.

Mystical animals like dragons and unicorns are welcome.


Carey Shannon

Carey Shannon loves to use her writing to make humorous connections between items that may appear completely unrelated. A feat that is easy for a serious Elvis fan and frequent blood donor.
Carey Shannon loves to write about humorous connections between items and subjects in life that may appear to be completely unrelated. A feat that is easy for an Elvis super fan and frequent blood donor. She has been a member of the Story A Day community since 2020 and now hopes to provide some inspiration quirkiness to other writers.

Here’s your next Bingo Piece. Download the pic, print it out and paste it onto your bingo sheet. Then share a picture of it on social media with #storyadaybingo

Join the discussion: what will you do with today’s prompt OR how did it go? Need support? Post here!

Day 11- Play with Perspective & Time by Neha Mediratta

One of the joys of writing is to create characters that can ‘see’ what has come in the way of what they want.

The Prompt

“I twisted my ankle and hobbled about for a decade. After years of doctor’s visits, therapy sessions, medications, this and that, I came to believe that I’d been cursed and would likely limp to my grave. Until I met you, I didn’t know curses could turn into blessings.”

Use this line anywhere in a short story of about 1500 words.

Might help to brainstorm a few things like: Who would say this? To whom? a mentor? a child? a magician? a stranger on a train? a turtle? a millionaire who’s about to be murdered or a pauper who’s about to get rich?

Reflect on a time when something happened that you thought was the worst thing ever, only to find out later that it was not so bad. In fact, as time went by, it seemed the best thing to have happened.

One of the joys of writing is to create characters that can ‘see’ what has come in the way of what they want. Oftentimes, it is an aspect of themselves, not merely the forces around, that throws them into chaos, pulling them away from the very thing they desire.

As a writer, you have the power to enable readers to map this type of ‘seeing’. Readers walk away from your work not only entertained, but subtly equipped with a new way of looking at their own lives.

StoryADay Bingo Day 11
Here’s your next Bingo Piece. Download the pic, print it out and paste it onto your bingo sheet. Then share a picture of it on social media with #storyadaybingo

Neha Mediratta

Neha is a generalist currently obsessed with stretching, mind-body-world connection and the spirit’s dwelling place. She writes fiction, non-fiction, takes on editing assignments she enjoys and works with people she admires. She lives by a lake in an overcrowded coastal city with her family and some wildlife. Check out her writing here: https://www.amazon.com/Neha-Mediratta/e/B08CJSLD2H

Join the discussion: what will you do with today’s prompt OR how did it go? Need support? Post here!

Day 30 – Looking Back & Looking Forward

The Prompt

Write a story about someone who has just completed a huge challenge. What have they learned? What did they sacrifice? Was it worth it?

The Author

Julie Duffy has hosted 12 StoryADay Mays and almost as many StoryADay Septembers. That’s quite a lot.

Read A Book, Support An Indie

Reads & Company Logo

This year’s StoryADay May official bookseller is Reads & Company, a privately-owned indie bookseller in Pennsylvania. Any purchase from the site this month supports Reads & Co.

Leave a comment and let us know how you used the prompt, and how you’re celebrating!

Day 14 – Caroline Kim Conjures Ghosts

Caroline Kim Writing Prompt

The Prompt

Your character is doing something innocuous and habitual like washing dishes or driving in a car or picking up dry cleaning or taking a walk in the neighborhood when a ghost/spirit appears to them. Whether it is human, animal, or other, what is it saying and why has it appeared to the character at this moment?

(This is good for dredging up something from the character’s subconscious and also for throwing your character off track with something unexpected.)

The Author

CAROLINE KIM was born in Busan, South Korea but moved to America at an early age. She has lived on the East Coast, Midwest, and Texas but now makes her home in Northern California with her family.

Her poetry and fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in TriQuarterly, The Rumpus, Pleiades, Porter House Review, MANOA, The Michigan Quarterly Review, Spinning Jenny, Meridian, Faultline, Pidgeonholes, Cosmonaut’s Avenue, Ms. Aligned 3, and elsewhere. Her collection of short stories, The Prince of Mournful Thoughts and Other Stories, won the 2020 Drue Heinz Literature Prize and was longlisted for the 2021 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection.

Read A Book, Support An Indie

Reads & Company Logo

This year’s StoryADay May official bookseller is Reads & Company, a privately-owned indie bookseller in Pennsylvania. Any purchase from the site this month supports Reads & Co.

Leave a comment and let us know how you used the prompt, and how you’re celebrating!

Day 13 – Monique Cuillerier Shifts Your Perspective

Monique Cuillerier Writing prompt

The Prompt

Write a story from the perspective of a character that is not a human or other animal.

The character could be something from nature, like a rock or a puddle or a tree, or it could be something built (for example, a lamp or a shoe or a fountain pen).

To consider:

How does your character think? And what do they think about it?

What is most important to them?

What happens to them and how are they able, or not able, to react?

How do they feel about this?

The Author

Monique Cuillerier is a science fiction writer living in Ottawa. When not writing, she likes to run, knit, garden, and get angry on Twitter (@MoniqueAC). Her most recent story was published by Diabolical Plots this month. Past work can be found at NotWhereILive.ca

Read A Book, Support An Indie

Reads & Company Logo

This year’s StoryADay May official bookseller is Reads & Company, a privately-owned indie bookseller in Pennsylvania. Any purchase from the site this month supports Reads & Co.

Leave a comment and let us know how you used the prompt, and how you’re celebrating!

Day 6 – Julie Duffy wants you to Interview Your Character

The Prompt

writing prompt from Julie Duffy

Write an interview with a character who invented something that changed the world…years after the change took place.

The Author

Julie Duffy is a writer and the founder and host of StoryADay.

Read A Book, Support An Indie

Reads & Company Logo

This year’s StoryADay May official bookseller is Reads & Company, a privately-owned indie bookseller in Pennsylvania. Any purchase from the site this month supports Reads & Co.

Leave a comment and let us know how you used the prompt, and how you’re celebrating!

Day 5 – Marta Pelrine-Bacon Makes Your Character Lose Something

The Prompt

writing prompt from Marta Pelrine-Bacon

A character has lost an object that is of great value to someone they love.

The Author

Marta Pelrine-Bacon is an artist and a writer. You can buy her art in her Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/WordsAreArtStudio

Read A Book, Support An Indie

Reads & Company Logo

This year’s StoryADay May official bookseller is Reads & Company, a privately-owned indie bookseller in Pennsylvania. Any purchase from the site this month supports Reads & Co.

Leave a comment and let us know how you used the prompt, and how you’re celebrating!

Day 1 – Fran Wilde Crosses A Bridge

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The Prompt

There is a point, in the distance, that your character very badly wants to reach. What is it?

What is the point from which they’ve started out, what are they willing to do to get to that point in the distance? What will they sacrifice?

The bridge is the point between those two places. The bridge is where what they must do to get there, what they’re willing to sacrifice, and the consequences of those decisions coexist.

Write their story, on the bridge.

Are we ready? Today is Day 1 of StoryADay  2021!

Today’s prompt is  from Fran Wilde. Fran is a wonderful short story writer among other things, and she writes weird little stories, but weird little stories that win awards…so let’s pay attention to what she’s asked us to do. 

Fran has asked us to write a story where your character is on a bridge. 

It’s a wonderful metaphor for where characters are in short stories. A short story can be just that moment on the bridge where they can see what they want and they know where they’ve been. 

But they have to do something.

 They have to do something they probably don’t want to do to get to the next step, to get where they want to go. 

Your character wants something and it’s over there. Something is stopping them from getting there. If they’re the three Billy goats gruff, it’s a troll. If it’s a fantasy story, maybe there are rogues on the bridge. If it’s an adventure novel, maybe the bridge is rickety. If it’s a family drama, maybe their spouse is trying to tell them not to go any further….

So many possibilities, but all of them will keep you focused on the fact that, in a short story, a character has a choice to make and they have an action to take. And all the story needs to be is about that. 

You don’t need to do much setup.

You don’t need to really tie it up with a bow. 

You just need to tell us what happens and why it matters. 

So good luck with Day One!

This is a fairly meaty prompt, but on Day One you’ve got lots of energy. You’ve planned for this. You haven’t used up all of your good ideas yet. (That actually is never going to happen)

Go out there and get your teeth into this prompt.

I’ll see you back here tomorrow, but before that,  stop by and let me know what you wrote, how it went and just leave a quick comment for us when you’re done today.

Good for you for showing up. I’m very proud of you. 

Keep writing.

Would you like to receive this kind of enhanced content every day during May AND get to attend Zoom writing sprints with me and the Superstars?

Challenge Plus

The Author

Two-time Nebula winner Fran Wilde writes science fiction and fantasy for adults and kids, with seven books, so far, that embrace worlds unique (Updraft, The Gemworld) and portal (Riverland, The Ship of Stolen Words), plus numerous short stories appearing in Asimov’s, Tor.com, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Shimmer, Nature, Uncanny, and multiple Year’s Best anthologies.

Her work has won the Eugie Foster and Compton Crook awards, been named an NPR Favorite, and has been a finalist for six Nebulas, three Hugos, a World Fantasy Award, three Locii, and the Lodestar. Fran directs the Genre Fiction MFA concentration at Western Colorado University and writes nonfiction for NPR, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.

Check out her latest work at https://www.franwilde.net/

Leave a comment and let us know how you used the prompt, and how you’re celebrating!

[Write on Wednesday] How We Remember Ourselves

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how we build characters (both in real life and in fiction). So much of what we ‘know’ is based in the stories we tell about ourselves. That’s what this week’s prompt is all about.

Man's reflection on body of water. Photo from Randy Jacob on Unsplash

The Prompt

Write a story in which a character tells the same story at three different times in their life.

Tips

Continue reading “[Write on Wednesday] How We Remember Ourselves”

[Write on Wednesday] Solve Plot Problems By Starting With Desire

One of the fastest ways to find your way to the plot of a short story is to come up with a character who wants something and see how they pursue that desire.

A track athlete was participating in a tournament. Photo by Serghei Trofimov from Unsplash

The Prompt

Think of a character who wants something really, really badly. Put an obstacle in your way and let them react to it

Tips

Continue reading “[Write on Wednesday] Solve Plot Problems By Starting With Desire”

[Write on Wednesday] Not The First

On this day in 1972 John Young and Charles Duke were the 9th and 10th humans to land on the moon. They weren’t the first crew to touch down, nor were they the last (that was the mission after theirs). What they did was still mind-blowingly complex, but didn’t garner nearly as much attention.

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

The Prompt

Write about a character (or duo) who is doing something new and difficult, but they’re not the first to achieve it. What does that do to their attitude to the task, to their relationship with each other, to their relationship with the people around them?

Tips

Continue reading “[Write on Wednesday] Not The First”

[Write on Wednesday] A Writer’s Tale

This month’s prompts are all designed to help you warm up for StoryADay May. This week, an opportunity to think about what it means to be a writer.

Photo by Thought Catalog from Unsplash

The Prompt

Write A Story About A Writer

Tips

Continue reading “[Write on Wednesday] A Writer’s Tale”

Write On Wednesday – The Missing Package

The Prompt: Write the story of an inanimate object.

This prompt was inspired by a conversation with a StoryADay Superstar who had been waiting for a package to arrive for weeks. We speculated about what it had been up to on its travels, and now it’s your turn.

The Prompt

Write the story of an inanimate object

Tips

Continue reading “Write On Wednesday – The Missing Package”

[Write On Wednesday] Nostalgia Foods

The Prompt: Write a story with a pivotal scene where your a character tastes a food they haven’t tasted since childhood.

The Prompt

Write a story with a pivotal scene where your a character tastes a food they haven’t tasted since childhood.

Tips

Continue reading “[Write On Wednesday] Nostalgia Foods”

[Write On Wednesday] Nose To Nose

All the prompts this month are designed to stand alone or support your novel habit! Use them to spark standalone stories or to unstick your work-in-progress.

Just because it’s short doesn’t mean a story can’t be complex.

Zao Fox Village, Shiroishi-shi, Japan

The Prompt

Write a story in which the protagonist and antagonist are two sides of the same coin.

Tips

Continue reading “[Write On Wednesday] Nose To Nose”

188 – Angela Ackerman & Great Character Writing

In Part 2 of my interview with Angela Ackerman, co-author of The Emotion Thesaurus and host of Writers Helping Writers, we talk about how to use details to write great characters, immerse readers in your story, and even figure out your plot.

Links:

Writers Helping Writers: http://stada.me/whw

One Stop For Writers: http://stada.me/osfw

Ready to write today, not “some day”?

Day 18 – Simon Rich Knows More Than Your Character

THE PROMPT

A character who knows less than the reader tries their best to deal with a problem they don’t fully understand.

THE AUTHOR

Simon Rich is  is an American humorist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has published two novels and three collections of humor pieces, several of which appeared in The New Yorker

His message to the StoryADay community: “God speed everyone. Let’s keep writing if we can.”

Read A Book, Support An Indie

Reads & Company Logo

This year’s StoryADay May official bookseller is Reads & Company, a privately-owned indie bookseller in Pennsylvania. Any purchase from the site this month supports Reads & Co.

SIMON RICH, Hits & Misses: Stories

BUY NOW

Leave a comment and let us know how you got on and what you’re writing about

Day 16 – Tobias S. Buckell Thwarts Your Characters

The Prompt

Think about three different characters going into a situation who need three different things to happen in it. Now, all of these things will conflict with the other needs. Think about how they will ally with each other and thwart each other in conversation and subtly trying to influence each other. But only one character can get what they want. Now… go!

The Author

Born in the Caribbean, Tobias S. Buckell is a New York Times Bestselling author. His novels and over 50 short stories have been translated into 17 languages and he has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, Prometheus and John W. Campbell Award for Best New Science Fiction Author. He has a fabulous Patreon campaign where you get original stories once a month. He is also the author of one of my favorite new writing guides, It’s All Just A Draftwhich I talked about in this podcast episode.

Read A Book, Support An Indie

Reads & Company Logo

This year’s StoryADay May official bookseller is Reads & Company, a privately-owned indie bookseller in Pennsylvania. Any purchase from the site this month supports Reads & Co.

TOBIAS S. BUCKELL, IT’S ALL JUST A DRAFT

BUY NOW

Leave a comment and let us know how you got on and what you’re writing about

[Write On Wednesday] Flexing Your Writing Muscles

We are one month away from StoryADay May, people! This is not a drill.

Actually, yes, it kind of is.

This is THE PERFECT TIME TO WARM UP your writing (take it from someone who didn’t, the very first year I ran this thing. I thought it would be smart to save all my ideas until May. Um, wrong!)

Photo by Eugene Chystiakov on Unsplash

One of the easiest ways to get into the flow of writing is to minimize the amount of stuff you have to invent. So today I have two prompts for you, from the archives, which help you take that ‘write what you know’ thing and have a little more fun with it than if you were simply journaling.

The Prompt

Read through these two prompts from the archives and decide which one is most interesting to you.

When Your Character Is Like You

When Your Character Is Not Like You.

Tips

Pull out your Short Story Framework and brainstorm that story. Then: write!

Try to get to the end of the story today. Bonus points: write to the other prompt tomorrow!

Remember, if the story is getting away from you, to limit it only to the essential characters, settings and details. Just enough to paint a picture for yourself.

Also: don’t worry if this story is not ‘good’. It’s only a draft.


If you share you story somewhere (and here’s why you might not want to) post a link here so we can come and read it.

Leave a comment to let us know what you wrote about today, and how it went!



Ready For More?


2019 Day 10 – Character Action

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

This is when the challenge gets really tough: the novelty has worn off and the end of the month seems a long time away. But keep going! If you keep writing through this week, you’ll still be writing at the end of the month and that is going to feel really good.

Lean on the support in the comments, to spur you on!

The Prompt

Write A story about yesterday’s character, all grown up

Today’s exercise owes a lot to Donald Mass’s book The Emotional Craft of Fiction.

Yesterday I challenged you to write about an incident earlier in the life of a character you’d come back to, today.

Today I want you to bear in mind the inner struggle of that character, once they’ve had time to create some damaging behaviors based on the incident in yesterday’s story.

Now, pick an action, a physical act, that they can perform in this story. Make it significant to the character.

My example: in Die Hard, when John McClane picks up a photo of his family (back when they were a happy family), he winces, and it shows us everything we need to know about what this character wants, and what’s standing in his way (hint: it’s his own behavior).

Add a moment like that to your story today. No inner-monologue. No telling the reader why it’s significant. Just use all our senses to pull us into the moment.

Check back every day for more prompts, and don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to celebrate your writing successes, every day!

2019 Day 9 – Character Damage

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

Remember, set your own rules, and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up. Just keep moving forward!

The Prompt

Write A story about the childhood damage of a character you’ll write about tomorrow

Today’s story owes a lot to Lisa Cron’s book Story Genius, in which she talks about how childhood beliefs can become problems for adult characters.

Behaviors that protected your character as a child (for example, an abandoned child’s tendency to keep people at a distance, or conversely to be too clingy, doesn’t serve them well as an adult.)

Every character needs an inner conflict, to make them interesting.

Today write a vivid story about something that happened early in life to a character you’ll come back to, tomorrow.

Check back every day for more prompts, and don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to celebrate your writing successes, every day!

[Write On Wednesday] Your Character’s Voice

Today we’re going to play with making your characters sound distinctive.

Voiceover Microphone

The Prompt

Write A Story With Lots Of Dialogue That Teachers Us About Your Characters

Continue reading “[Write On Wednesday] Your Character’s Voice”

Creating Compelling Characters

Plot happens outside, but story happens inside

Donald Maass, The Emotional Craft of Fiction
Caution Magnetic Magnet

For people to love your story, they need to love (or love to hate) your character.

The most beautiful writing in the world, the most exciting action sequence in history, neither of these will make people love your story.

But a compelling character will steal their heart, sneak into their memory, and make them come back to your writing over and over again.

Wouldn’t it be great to have raving fans?

How do you make your character compelling without spending too many words tracing their inner thoughts? How do you balance character growth with action?

Step 1: Know Your Character

None of us step out into the world in the morning as a fresh new creation.

We walk out of the door with hang ups and passions and prejudices and ingrained behaviors, all of which come from a lifetime of having experiences and reacting to them.

Lisa Cron, in her excellent book Story Genius, talks about this brilliantly:

You have to know your character’s childhood damage, she says, and the protective behaviors they created. If you can set your story at a point in their life when those behaviors no longer serve your character, you have automatic conflict built into your story (and conflict makes stuff happen!)

Top Tip: do some ‘discovery writing’ about your character before you ever try to write the actual story. It will make your first draft go soooo much faster.

Resources:

Step 2: Nobody’s Perfect

In our quest to make readers love our protagonist, we can forget to give them flaws.

But how do you give them a flaw, without making them unlikeable?

The best resource I’ve come across came from the podcast Writing Excuses, where they talk about playing with three different characteristics as if they were sliders on a mixing board. Your character can be competent, proactive, and sympathetic, but they can’t be 100% (or 0%) of all three at the same time.

Contractors say, “You have have a job done well, fast, or cheap. Pick two.”

At any one moment in a story, a character can be extremely competent, extremely proactive, or extremely sympathetic. Pick two.

And then play with those levels throughout the story. (Think about how Hermoine Grainger changes over the course of the first Harry Potter book. At the start she is the most competent and proactive of the three friends, but nobody likes her. By the end, she has given up some of that proactivity and learned to lean on her friends. She acknowledges that Ron is more competent at wizard chess, and lets Harry be the one to face the last big challenge…and we like her a lot more, for it.)

Top Tip: Playing with character competencies is a great way to make them more or less sympathetic without having to give them a ‘tragic flaw’.

Resources:

Step 3: Show Their Inner Conflict In Action

In critique groups I usually hear two opposing critiques of character, depending on the writer’s natural tendencies:

  • The writing’s beautiful but it’s a little…slow (translation: nothing happens!!) OR
  • It was very exciting…but I’m not sure why I’m supposed to care (translation: explosions and chases are great, but your character has no inner depth)

Whether you naturally write lots of action, or spend a lot of time dwelling on inner feelings, a good writer needs to be able to balance action and inner conflict, to create compelling characters.

One of the best ways to do this is to turn off the inner dialogue and show your character taking actions or interacting with physical objects that

  • Are symbolic of their inner struggle
  • Matter to this character for a specific reason (which you know, and can reveal to the reader)
  • Remind the reader of the stakes, without you having to spell it out.

For example, in the beginning of the movie Die Hard, a watch-word for action-based storytelling, John McClane picks up a picture of his happy family from a desk in his wife’s office…and winces.

In that moment (right before he gets embroiled in the explosions and flying bullets) the viewer remembers that this is not just a wise-cracking action hero. He’s a man who is losing his family and isn’t sure how far he’s willing to go, to put it back together.

That’s the question the rest of the film answers.

And it’s the reason we, as viewers, care.

Top Tip: Turn off the inner dialogue and give us a moment, filled with all five senses, where your character demonstrates their emotions, on the outside.

Resources

Big Final Caveat

All of this kind of craft-based instruction is useful for developing your writing…but only if it doesn’t slow you down while you’re creating first drafts.

If you’re writing the first version of a story do not stop to worry about ‘showing not telling’ or whether your character is sufficiently proactive in this moment.

All of this can be fixed in the rewrite.

And one of the best ways to figure out what’s working and what still needs work in your story, is to show it to other readers.

Perhaps the idea of a critique group terrifies you. Or maybe you’ve been in groups in the past that were frustrating, or just ‘meh’.

If that’s you, I have a gift for you: a free guide to critique groups, including:

  • All the personality types you’ll encounter in a group
  • How best to interact with each
  • What you need to know to to give and receive great feedback

Don’t waste time being afraid of feedback, any longer. It’s the single most important thing you can do to get your writing closer to the point where you can really begin to delight readers and build a raving fanbase.

Download the Critique Primer Now

[Write On Wednesday] Secondary & Background Characters

Short stories don’t have a lot of space for non-main characters, but if you’re going to include a best friend or comic relief, make sure they earn their word count!

1-2-3 Chick-A-Dees! by JD Hancock

The Prompt

Write A Story That Gives Your Secondary Characters Something To Do

Continue reading “[Write On Wednesday] Secondary & Background Characters”

[Write On Wednesday] What A Character Wants

For today’s Write on Wednesday writing prompt, I’m digging into the archives.

This writing prompt, from 2012, talks about how to use your character’s desires to power a story and contains important tips on how to keep your short story from become a barely-begun novel.

La mela del desiderio

The Prompt

Write a Story In Which Your Character WAAAAAAANTS something

Read more

If you share you story somewhere (and here’s why you might not want to) post a link here so we can come and read it.

How is your writing going, now that StoryADay May 2019 is over? Are you ready to write a story today? Leave a comment!

[Write On Wednesday] A Gargoyle’s-Eye View

Missed out on StoryADay May? Don’t worry, the next challenge is just around the corner. Sign up now.

I’ll send you a prompt like this, every day during the next challenge.

This week we all watched in horror as Notre Dame burned. It was a great loss for human cultural heritage and a personal wrench for many.

And it made me wonder about other stories we might tell.

Image: A Gargoyle's Point of View by Sharon Mollerus

The Prompt

Write a story from the perspective of a non-human character

Tips

Continue reading “[Write On Wednesday] A Gargoyle’s-Eye View”

[Write On Wednesday] Your Character’s Damage

This month I’m giving you prompts that work in different ways to support your long-form fiction/novel writing. Today’s prompt digs deep into your protagonist’s past.

Nightmare

Photo credit: GôDiNô

The Prompt

Write the story of the childhood event that scarred your character

Tips

  • If you haven’t already, get hold of a copy of Lisa Cron’s Story Genius and read all about character misbeliefs. Re-read it, if you own a copy!
  • Every character has to have a flaw. Maybe you decided that yours was commitment-phobic, or that she was overly-honest, or that she couldn’t hold down a job. There are lots of ways that could be fun in a novel, but a deeper question is: Why?
  • What happened to your main character at an earlier point in their life, that caused them to begin acting this way?
  • Once you know that, the subtle ways she reacts will change. She won’t just be commitment-phobic, she’ll get unreasonably angry when anyone promises to take her on vacation, because when she was nine her dad promised to take her on vacation but instead blew the money taking his new girlfriend to Vegas, and your main character never had a real relationship with him again after that.
  • In Story Genius Lisa Cron asserts that harmful adult behaviors originate in behaviors that were actually protective, at some point. So, by not trusting her Dad again, your main character protected herself from getting hurt by him. But that pattern of behavior stopped serving her at some point (probably right around the time your novel starts) and she has to learn to overcome it. Knowing what caused her to begin acting that way is extremely useful.
  • Digging into your character’s past gives you news ways to show their flaws in your novel.

Go!

Photo credit: GôDiNô

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