Writing Prompts VII

1. Create a setting where everything seems perfect, beyond expectations, until the characters of your story begin to dig beneath the surface. Soon, everything turns out to be a facade– Luxury gives way to mold and disease, opulence gives way to cheap corner cutting, and what was originally seen as something incredible and perfect is quickly exposed for what it really is.

2. Consider for a moment what it would be like to be directly involved in analyzing a situation or a threat to a population (of humans, bacteria, or other forms of plant or animal life) and addressing a solution of alternative action that could either be a fix (however temporary or permanent) or a preventative measure. Put yourself in the shoes of a professional scientist who considers it to be her or his duty to look at and handle this burgeoning situation, then write your groundbreaking report. If you’re stuck for ideas, create a new disease or “Chronic defect” and then approach it from the observational and detached position of a researcher.

3. People in today’s world have all kinds of strange allergies. Just right now, I can think of three such people, one allergic to red dye #5, one allergic to chlorinated water (as in pools) and one who’s allergic to cucumbers (even in the form of pickles.) Using an existing, but bizarre allergy (or by creating and using a new one) write a story about someone who suffers from it, how it effects their life, and how they ultimately overcome it.

4. Television rules the nation. Write a story where the mainstream media’s domination over the common man is emphasized, where the average populace blurs together, and only a few people are truly aloof and free. What makes them different (besides not watching TV?) How do they view the hypnotized masses? As tools, idiots, or souls to be pitied? Are they interested in change? What will they do to insure it happens (or to keep it from happening?)

5.Some series that have appeared since the advent of entertainment as a medium have become iconic, thoroughly integrating themselves into our society in a way that makes them unforgettable and subject to a massive fan base or instant recognition (like Sherlock Holmes or Star Wars). What is it that makes them so iconic, so popular? What is it that they have and so much else seems to so painfully lack? Try to capture that something and instill it into a story of your own invention.

6.Write a “Chop-Saki.” Think about every Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee film you’ve ever seen, every late night kung-fu flick you’ve ever sat and watched without reaching for the remote and changing the channel. Now, put that knowledge to work! Craft something new, something exciting that’s only cheesy if you want it to be.

7. The idea of being invaded by a hostile force is a terrifying one. Write a story where an invasion (either real, fantastic or futuristic, etc.) is imminent, and the invading force is superior in both equipment and tactics. How do you prepare to meet this invasion? Will you defend yourself? If so, then with what? However far your ingenuity takes you, will it be enough to turn the tide, or will you and your compatriots fall before your foes anyway?

8. A lot of college humor in the last few decades focuses on the comedic way that binge drinking tends to erase all of the memories of the night before and leave a person holding their head, wondering where they left their pants– and their dignity. Write a story where this is the case, but provide a way for the character (or at least the reader) to track back through the night of debauchery until the true list of the previous night’s events are laid bare.

9. Experiment with poetry and form. Try something new, play with it until it all fits together. If you’re strapped for ideas, try a Sestina form, a Fibonacci Sequence or a 26 line poem with lines that all begin with a letter of the alphabet, in proper order.

10. Resisting any impulses you may have of seeing it as morbid, visit a graveyard and check out the grave markers and headstones until you find one that catches you. Write a story about that person’s life, what it might have been like, the kind of things they might have had to deal with.

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