More Plot Twists — Wednesday Prompts and Inspirations

chalkboard-3-ALast Wednesday I offered five prompt ideas for adding twists to your plots.

This Wednesday, I decided to continue with five more twist ideas.

Ready?

1. Your main character is on vacation in her hotel room. It’s bedtime. She crawls into bed, and as she slides her feet under the sheets, she feels something.

Take a moment to think about the variety of things she might find. Your list could include something living to something the maid mistakenly made into the bed. Besides having your bed short-sheeted in college, have you ever found anything in your bed you weren’t expecting? 

2. Your main character is at the grocery store. The bag boy has loaded her groceries into bags. She arrives home and finds not only the items purchased, but….

Have you ever had this happen to you? Not that what happened to me could create a major mystery in a story, but around the holidays, I did come home with a hurricane lamp and set of candles I never purchased. You would think the store would be thrilled at my honesty in returning the items, but the manager simply excepted them without so much as a thank you. 

3. Your main character takes a taxi to his destination. As he gets in, a woman rushes over and begs him to allow her to share the cab. Her stop comes first. She pays the driver, bolts from the taxi, and leaves an item in a bag behind.

This item could be anything from a roll of large bills, doughnuts, a mask, drugs, party favors, or….

4. Your main character has been invited to a close relative’s home for (a birthday party, holiday party, or no special occasion at all) The relative surprises your main character and everyone present when she announces…

This could range from relocating to another country, a love affair with someone you know, a sex change, a career change, or…

5. Your main character has buried something, (a time capsule, a stack of secret letters, etc…) When the day comes when he needs the item, (because perhaps he is moving) the item is gone.

I’m recalling a scene from the movie, The Promise. Have you ever buried something or hidden something important only to find it missing when you returned to retrieve it? 

I hope these prompts and inspirations jump-start your brain and get you thinking of more ways to add a twist to your story plot.

 

Happy writing!

Leslie

That’s A Great Plot Twist! Wednesday Prompts and Inspirations

chalkboard-3-ADo you need a twist in your story?

Have fun answering these questions.

Hint, hint…. Make sure to think outside the box.

 

1.  I thought I inherited a ruby ring from my Aunt Jenny, but when the package arrived, I found she left me…

This prompt was inspired by the movie, Baby Boom, in which the main character thinks she will inherit a pen from a poor relative that passed away. She instead receives a baby. When making your list of possible things one could inherit, consider how that item could change your main character’s life. This, after all, could be the perfect ingredient you story needs for a good twist.

2.  I bought a set of pottery maracas on vacation. They broke when I shook them and out rolled…

I confess this inspiration came from watching, Scooby Doo cartoons. In one of the episodes, Daphne purchases a mask in San Francisco in which jewels are hidden. Other interesting items could be a coded message, a map, a phone number, or address.

3.  I discovered a book beside a tree and stuck between the pages I found…

Actually, I opened a book at the library and found several amazing, unsigned sketches once. But for this exercise/example what was found in the book could be a letter, a map, or a hundred-dollar bill with a phone number on it. The important thing is to give your mind permission to go wild when considering answers to these prompts.

4.  Usually a businessman sits beside me on the plane and barely says a word, but this time I was seated beside _________________________ and his/her conversation opener took me by surprise. She/He turned to me and said…

I’ve been on many flights over the years. Usually, the person I’m seated beside stays focused on their book, newspaper, or laptop. It isn’t until the plane lands and we’re standing, slightly stooped beneath the low ceiling of the overhead luggage compartments, that we start our typical, mundane chit-chat.

“Long flight.” I sigh, gripping the handle of my carry-on bag.

“Yeah,” my seat partner remarks. “Are you visiting here?”

“No, this is a stopover. I’m catching another plane for California.”

You get the picture. So far, nothing that’s going to get those pages turning. But what if our main character’s seat partner is wearing a wedding gown? This could lead to all kinds of great conversation starters.

5.  I heard that tornadoes can lift houses and animals and set them down miles away, but I was stunned after that last storm when a _________________landed on my roof.

This inspiration came from a textbook back in Jr. High. Some things stay in our memories a long time. I read about a cow that got picked up by a tornado and set down, uninjured, miles away. But other things can just as easily be transported. Let your mind go wild.

I hope you will have fun with these plot twist inspirations. Perhaps you might find one of them sparks a fresh story!

I wish you happy writing.

Leslie

No More Procrastinating- Wednesday Prompts and Inspirations

chalkboard-3-AToday is January 7th. We’re one week into the new year. My daughter is back in school after Winter break, so no more excuses as to why I don’t have time to look over my list of resolutions, mark my calendar with my goals, and head full steam into 2015. So what’s stopping me? I gaze around the house at the few holiday decorations I missed that I still need to box and store away. As I do this, I notice a pile of holiday linens needing washing before I can store them. The refrigerator could use a good cleaning, too. I’m sure I caught a whiff of decomposing veggies. And despite that my fish are still alive, maybe their tank could use a filter change.

Why am I getting distracted and procrastinating?

Easy. I’m overwhelmed with my list of resolutions and can’t possibly do them all at once. Which resolution do I tackle first? Decisions, decisions… I have a feeling I’m not alone in my procrastination boat, sailing in circles around The Lake of indecision.

So what was on my resolution list? A little good advice I gave myself. Finish those UFO’s. (UnFinished Objects) It’s extremely challenging to give one’s full attention–distraction free–to a new writing project when partial projects lurk in a writing folder. Plus, we gain a feeling of accomplishment when we complete something. So, for the next month(s), I am going to find my inspiration in completing my UFO’s.

Are you familiar with the old line, The grass is always greener…? I think that phrase is at the core of some writer’s hearts…mine included. We begin a story, craft our characters, the plot, the scenes, etc… With great determination and focus, our story takes shape. Then we run low on steam around the same point our plot hits a wall. We can’t decide how best to move the story forward. So what do we typically do? We let it go for a while. We let our subconscious work on it. But shortly after, an idea for another story comes while we’re sitting in traffic. A new set of characters materialize in our heads, and a fresh plot unfolds. As soon as we’re in front of our computers, we are typing another story, despite our earlier story knocking around our thoughts, trying to find the path to completion. Result: we are writing with less than 100% focus.

As today’s Writer’s Prompt and Inspiration, I ask you to return to a writing project you started with great enthusiasm, perhaps a novel or short story in which you created a memorable protagonist who deserves to find life through publication. Re-read what you wrote with fresh eyes, attend to the problem spots, and edit, edit, edit to polish it up to “ready-to-submit” form.

Let’s get started!

Leslie

Character Soup – Wednesday Writer’s Prompts and Inspiration

chalkboard-3-AAs writers, we all have a natural tendency to people watch. Each day we sit beside, pass on the street, get honked at, speak to, and get called on the phone by possible characters for our stories. Our world is a veritable character soup!

Some of my favorite places to jot details in my pocket notebook are coffee shops, train stations, and, nearly everyone’s favorite people-watching location…the airport.

Have you ever sat across from a group of people and absent mindedly stared at one person in particular? What was it about his appearance that set him apart? His advanced age? his dated clothes? Something resting on his lap or clutched to his chest? A look in his eyes filled with joy and contentment of having lived a good life?

Next time you’re wondering about someone, reach for your notebook and begin speculating.

Start by describing their appearance.

* The fashion-conscious woman–she wears the latest in Vogue, her gold necklace rests perfectly above the neckline of her designer dress, her carry-on bag matches her purse, and her polished nails match her lipstick and belt.

* The confident man– he wears a button-down, white shirt with jeans–worn at the knees. His back pocket is loosened at one corner and bulges with the outline of his wallet. He finger-styles his hair, and when he sits you notice his western boots.

* The homeless woman–she wears several layers of clothes, a torn garbage bag nests in the protection of the grocery cart she rests her hand upon. Her shoes have holes in the sides and the heels are worn. Her tangled, brown hair is pulled back under a frayed, knit cap.

What does the individual have with them? A briefcase? Purse? Stack of folders? A puppy in a pet carrier? A stroller with an infant? A letter? Absolutely nothing? What can you tell about the person from this?

What is this person doing? Checking e-mails on their mobile device? Scribbling details of you in their pocket notebook? (Yeah! A fellow writer.) Feeling in their coat pocket occasionally to check on something. (Hmmmm, possibly suspicious…)

If you’re at the train station or airport, can you speculate where the individual might be going, what awaits him/her there, and what they might need to do there? Are they returning home or beginning their journey? Who did they see? What business brought them to this point?

What about their activity can begin to paint a picture of their personality? If they are writing, do they crumple a sheet of paper with only a few marks on it, or do they use every possible writing space available on that page? Wasteful vs. Frugal.

BEFORE TODAY IS THROUGH, see how many new character sketches you can create.

And maybe one more…(?)

Observe yourself. Yes, you are a potential character for your stories, too. Do you know anyone better? How are you dressed today? What do your clothing choices say about you? What do you carry with you that others can observe? Is the tone in your voice irritated, hostile, happy, or pensive? When in public, what do you talk about that others might overhear? What do you say that a fellow writer in the crowd might document as an example of REAL dialogue?

And while you are creating fresh characters, keep in mind that the details you include are a fine exercise for show don’t tell.

Don’t tell us the man is old…show us his time-worn facial features, shaky hands, and dependency of his cane.

Don’t tell us the woman is stylish…show us her designer outfit, her long-legged, confident stride, and the shiny, silver heels of her black pumps.

Do you already keep a notebook for on-location character sketches? Have you ever been a character in one of your stories?

I’d love to hear from you.