Monday, March 2, 2015

Writing prompt: What's On Your Mind

Create a character who is doing something that ought to require a great deal of concentration, but have her distracted by thoughts of something completely unconnected. This will of necessity need to be written in first person (or, I suppose, second person) as you jump from the character's outer world to her inner world.


Ulterior motive

In this exercise, two things are happening at the same time, and it's up to you to weave them together in a way that makes sense. How do the two situations — what she's doing and what she's thinking — affect one another?

 It's also a way to explore cause and effect in a different way: combined external and internal causes can lead to unexpected effects. Consider these possibilities:
  • Freudian slips
  • The character expresses the "wrong" emotion to exciting or horrible news
  • Something happens in the external world that solves the internal conflict (or vice versa)
  • The character makes automatic and incorrect decisions in the real world and has to live with them
You'll find a similar writing exercise in Jerome Stern's Making Shapely Fiction. In fact, most writing prompts probably bear some resemblance to exercises in that great book. If you often find yourself wanting for inspiration or direction for your writing, I recommend you get yourself a copy of Making Shapely Fiction right away.