Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! This week is going to be another short one since I want to get this written on Wednesday, and I’ve had a lot of writing and other good things going on this week which has borrowed more time. In my own creative writing class this week we’ve started to workshop fiction pieces, so we’ve been talking a lot about conflict and tension in stories. Conflict and tension are also good for all other types of writing genres as well. If everything was always easy in life, or for your characters, life would be pretty boring. My favorite author, Kurt Vonnegut, said that you should be a sadist: “no matter how sweet and innocent your leading character, make awful things happen to them so that your readers will see what they’re made of,” and more of his advice for writing short stories can be found here.
That’s why we see a lot of the same types of story lines over and over. Take love stories for example: will the protagonist get the man or woman of their dreams? There’s always some obstacle coming at them…a third person, a war, parents not approving, and the list goes on and on. If Romeo and Juliet were free to date and had no interference what fun would that be? Shakespeare was a master at conflict. Think Othello, Hamlet…and the list goes on and on with his works…. In addition, in stories we root for the underdog, we like to see people overcome hard/bad situations, or see bad things happen to good people and watch how they cope…it makes us feel, well, human.
So with conflict and tension in mind this week, here is your sixteenth prompt:
“Trouble, Trouble Everywhere!”
1) I like to give my students three words that aren’t always connected but can create conflict just by the nature of the words. One particular set always gets some interesting works from students in no more than 10 minutes of class time, and sometimes those pieces go on to become their workshop pieces with fiction or drama. Here are the three words: Priest, Prostitute, Movie Theater.
It’s always amazing how different each person takes those words and makes some fascinating things happen. You can utilize those three words, or come up with three columns of words for yourself…sort of what of these things don’t belong with the other…and your can always mix and match…the third column should be an interesting setting of some kind.
2) Or: Think of a sticky situation and put your protagonist right in it…write for 10 minutes in your daybook.
3) After you’ve written from the three words, or from the sticky situation, expand it where you can…cut out things that are unneeded, and of course, revise, revise, revise!
Both of these prompts can be made into fiction or drama, but you can also utilize the same ideas with poems and creative nonfiction as well.
As with all writing, this “Troubled” writing should be fun! And I remind you that if you ever want to share any successes or attempts that you get from these prompts, don’t hesitate to let me know. You can contact me here.
Look for another prompt next Wednesday! Until then, keep writing!