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-003Heh heh. Well, with the election upon us, I figured it was time to do a dramatic stakes prompt. So here it is:

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

A Story of Found Sentences

Select 25 or so interesting sentences from a variety of different sources—the more unlikely, the better: newspaper articles, to-go menus, instruction manuals, long & boring direct marketing e-mails, etc.  Sprinkle the sentences you find into one of your own compositions or write connective tissue between the strange combinations of ideas. Make sense of chaos, but don’t make too much sense or you’ll ruin the magic.  Combine (whatever it is) into a flash fiction or prose poem, sifting and re-sifting and editing/deleting like a cook in the kitchen until something interesting surfaces. Let this exercise guide you directly into the story that you have wanted to write.c1c37fd03a778a2bade3a3a2622f9376

4th Day – Contradictory Exercise

Take a story you have already written that was never finished or that you do not like very much (a story which seems to be lacking something). With each sentence, in some way substitute opposite words or feelings for the source text. For example: “I went to the gym” becomes “I went for a smoke”;  or “He stood” becomes “She sat”; “I am” becomes “I’m not”,  “She felt lovely” becomes “She felt hideous”. This is obviously a strange, experimental exercise— and it is possible that nothing good will come of it!  Uhm. At least it will be interesting, and will give you a good excuse to get back inside a story that has been lingering too long.

Okay, here is an example of mine. The beginning of an unfinished story called “Chicken Man”

Chicken Man

“Chicken-man thinks lack of money is the problem in our marriage. He has covered the house with telephones for productivity. Sometimes he’ll call me from the living room and gently suggest that I get back to work.”

After the Contradictory Exercise:

“Rooster girl thinks we’re swimming in money and that it’s ruining us. She has peppered our cabin with hand-written index cards, a list of what she believes will make us less blissful together. “Torn socks”. “Bruised fruit”. Sometimes no sound from the bathroom at all, and then she’ll yell “Too much!”e5c9c44e6ca84b66c14307965a0e4b59