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 …
A character leaves an umbrella behind on the bus. Although it at first seems like a small loss, how does it affect the character? What does the umbrella symbolize? Let this lost umbrella incite an unexpected turn of events.
Create a story or scene between a mother and child. The moments can seem insignificant, but will stay with the child for the rest of his or her life. What makes the scene important? How does it change the child for better or worse? Describe the mother. What is her tone of voice? What gestures …
Write a scene between a nurse and a patient. Why is the patient in the hospital? Is the nurse kind and nurturing, or hurried and no-nonsense? How does the patient feel before, during and after the exchange? How will this moment affect (or not affect) the nurse and patient?
Create a scene in which an actor faces conflict both on and off the stage. How does the play’s script reflect or contrast the actor’s situation? Show the actor’s internal and external conflict alongside the play’s action. What happens once the curtain falls?
William Shakespeare and Vladimir Nabokov, author of Lolita, share birthdays (April 23) as well as subject matter: controversial love stories. Get inspired by these literary greats and create a love story that subverts social norms. Pair two people of different backgrounds or ideals and explore what develops between them. How do their differences complement one …
To celebrate National Humor Month, repurpose a classic joke as a short story or piece of flash fiction. What narrative can you tell about a chicken that crosses the road? What really happens when a rabbi, a priest and a minister walk into a bar?
A family moves into an old house with a checkered history. What do they discover there? How do the stories of past residents reflect the family’s own conflicts? What situations are the same in the past? What has changed?
A baker discovers a secret ingredient for cupcakes, but the recipe has unexpected consequences. What is in the cupcakes? How does the recipe affect the baker’s customers? How does the discovery change the baker’s future? Use secondary characters to create conflict in the kitchen.
“I have found it easier to identify with the characters who verge upon hysteria, who were frightened of life, who were desperate to reach out to another person. But these seemingly fragile people are the strong people really.” –Tennessee Williams