Trace the history of a piece of clothing in a thrift shop. Who made it? Who first wore it? What happened to the character while wearing it? Who else wore it? How did it get to the thrift shop? Use the clothing’s history to illuminate the characters’ lives.
Develop a story based on the classic premise “a stranger comes to town.” What makes this stranger different from the locals? What qualities or talents does this character bring to the town? What happened in this character’s past? How does the stranger’s arrival change (or not change) the town and its people?
Imagine a teenager’s birthday party: a sweet 16, a quinceañera or a bar mitzvah. Describe the decorations, the food, the gifts and the guests. What happens at this party? How do the party guests interact with the teenager? How do these interactions affect the character?
As we celebrate America’s Declaration of Independence, write a story about another group of individuals who must come together to make a radical decision.
Alice McDermott, born on this day in 1922, masterfully captures moments and emotions in her characters’ lives. Use her writing advice to explore the feelings, hopes and dreams of a character. How has a seemingly insignificant moment shaped the individual? Delve deep into the character’s emotional psyche.
As we celebrate the birthday of beatnik poet Allen Ginsberg this month, create a story based on a line or phrase from his famous poem, “Howl.” What story could you write about “moviehouses’ rickety rows,” a “catatonic piano” or “a yellow paper rose twisted on a wire hanger in the closet”?
Write a story about a character who is paralyzed by bad luck. What has happened to this character in the past? Why does the character seem like a victim of fate? How does the character overcome the bad luck and take control of destiny?
On the day of graduation, a character has a clear path for the future. But what happens that day will completely change the character’s planned course of action. Who or what transforms the character’s future? Why?
A customer walks into a consignment shop and discovers a “treasure.” The sales clerk is puzzled by the customer’s excitement. What item does the customer find? What significance does the item have for the customer? How does the incident change the sales clerk?
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, born May 22, 1859, pioneered the mystery story with his hero Sherlock Holmes. Holmes was a master of deductive reasoning, using his keen observations to make logical conclusions about people and situations. Take a cue from the master sleuth and delve deeper into your descriptions. Use small, specific details that reveal …