Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! As I’m dreaming of springtime warmth and of spring break next week (even though I’m not going anywhere this year), the last thing that I want in my life is conflict. We all want our lives to run smoothly – good days at work, a great relationship, plenty of money, our favorite songs playing in the background all day, laughter, tasty meals, wonderful conversations with friends and family, sweet dreams and sound sleep, you know, the happily ever after type of life.
However, if your characters have lives that run smoothly in the stories that you tell it will be a real yawner for your readers. The audience wants your character(s) to overcome some obstacle no matter how small…as my favorite author, Kurt Vonnegut, said, “Every character should want something, even if it’s a glass of water,” and “Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them in order for the reader to see what they are made of.”
So this week try something different in your writing – like really shake things up in your character’s world. And, if you write poetry instead of stories, you’re looking for tension…between words…images…don’t write sing-songy rhyming poems unless you’re looking for work with Hallmark. 😉
This hawk in my neighborhood causes conflict to songbirds and other small creatures. (Ignore the snow in the background as I’m trying to refrain from mentioning winter. ;-))
Conflict and tension – good to use in your thirty-sixth prompt(s):
“Road Blocks and Pot-holes Everywhere!”
1) If you’re writing short stories, creative nonfiction, or plays – what obstacle(s) can you give the character(s) that you’ve created? Don’t hesitate to use something that’s happened in your own life and amplify it in your character’s situation. Is that new sweetie they met online…married? A pervert? 400 lbs? Using someone else’s photo? Have they taken a risk in business or with money they shouldn’t have? Have they shared a secret that they shouldn’t have? There are so many conflicts to use, and as Vonnegut suggests…they don’t always have to be mind-boggling, it could be that they just want something simple but they’re going to have to work to get it…like that “glass of water.”
2) If you’re writing poetry, you can create tension with words and images. How about an unexpected metaphor? If you do like to rhyme – mix it up a bit…make up your own rhyme scheme that creates an unusual tension. Use enjambment in free verse (something that I like to do that sometimes baffles some of my own poet friends, but I like it – what can I say?).
3) As in my photo above, I stated that the hawk creates conflict in nature. Take a look at some of your own photographs – of nature, of family, of friends, what do you notice in the picture that is either a natural conflict, or gives you an idea to conjure some up in a story or a play? In my photo – it’s just a hawk. But I know he’s in my neighborhood where I feed birds, and I see small rabbits and squirrels in my yard….
4) Write in your daybook on any of these prompts for 10 minutes or until your subject runs out of steam! Once you get a good sense of your story/poem/play/essay – then write it out, type it up, and then revise, read it out loud, see if it sounds like you want it to sound. Revise again!
As with all writing, this “Road Blocks and Pot-holes Everywhere!” 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!