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.
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
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.
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”