House, Car, or Town

Write a story in which a house, car, or town is a passive but important character.

For example: In the film “Little Miss Sunshine” the dysfunctional van (that the whole family had to push) was one of the most lovable, reliably flawed characters.

Rebellious Secret

Write a story involving both a rebellious act (or fantasy) and a secret. In Raymond Carver’s story “Fat”, the main character is a waitress who has grown inconveniently fond of an obese customer who treats her with kindness. She feels useful to him, and is enlivened by his presence. He is not easy to look at, but Carver shows us how she hears him breathing, like a heartbeat. Her boyfriend is possessive and unkind, the living opposite of the obese man. Her secret is dangerous, and we watch her trying to hide it from herself and from her boyfriend.

 

Write Or Die

Autopilot: Don’t think about what you are writing, write as much as you can as fast you can without any editing or worry about grammar, spelling, story arc, or logic. Do it for as long as possible: one hour, two hours, three hours: don’t look back don’t look up.

Repeated Phrases

Use repeated phrases in every line to fool the critic. You do not have to keep them, you can edit them out! Some good ones are: “It may have had something to do with…” “I remember” “In the beginning” “I’m thinking of” “Because”.. etc etc.

Dramatic Stakes

dramatic-003

Write about a situation in which the stakes are very high, but don’t let the characters speak of it. Have them act as normally or even blandly as possible, given that something is happening all around them. They’ll want to find some kind of normalcy in the chaos. You as the narrator can write about what is really happening, but the characters are participating in conscious or unconscious avoidance.

Words to incorporate: snide, toothless, teaser, inhospitable, hood