The leader handed us four writing prompts, but as my eyes scrolled through each bulleted suggestion, I muttered “nope” and moved on. In the end though, I had to choose one. I stared at my blank page for a few minutes—then forced myself to begin scribbling.
Yesterday, I learned if I want to become a fiction writer, I have to stop that.
I don’t I need to pick fights in real life, but I sure as heck better develop some doozy situations for my characters. To date, I have failed in that regard. I’m the first one to acknowledge that the two projects I’m working on are boring. Now I understand why. Description, yup, I suppose I’ve got that down; but if I look over the limited bulk of my work; I’ve never given a character an issue to deal with that was resolved with anything more than a minimum of angst. It's time to ratchet up the volume if you will. This means since I need to “become” my characters while I write about them, then I have to live through what they experience. For a practiced conflict-avoider, the intimidation factor just climbed to the top of the chart.
To quote our leader: “An author must provide high stakes moments in fiction that keep readers reading…There must be complications—messy, potentially disastrous circumstances where there is a lot at stake.” So far, all I’ve done is created and resolved situations in a way that would make a reader say “Meh.”
I didn’t sleep well last night. I was busy lighting houses on fire, killing off folks, introducing myself to alcoholics, ruining marriages and creating children from previous relationships. It doesn’t do much for a night’s rest, but if I challenge myself to live through it, someday it might make for good fiction.
If you happen to be looking for writing prompts, here are the four from last night (I chose #1):
- A man considers shoplifting a gift for his girlfriend while she browses in handbags.
- A woman hides in a preschool so she can keep an eye on her three-year-old
- A girl comes home for Thanksgiving, doing everything she can not to tell her parents she’s quit college
- A boy tries to get his parents out of the house before the teacher calls to tell them he punched a boy at recess.