Monday, 29 February 2016

Short Story Starters

When we write stories we think in terms of Character and Conflict, and how these inform Plot.

At my recent Short Story Writing Day with Clitheroe Writers Group, we did the following exercise to find inspiration for our stories.

1. Write a list of characters who have some sort of conflict in their life; perhaps in their personality, their job or their environment. 

2. Write another list of unusual or difficult situations which a person may find themselves in.

3. Pick one random thing from each list (or get someone else to do it for you). This is the basis for a story. 

4. Now, write a list of about 5 'What if' questions? These will  help you think about the possibilities for the story you are about to write. 

5. I suggest a cup of tea at this point, to give your ideas time to gel, but after this short break, sit down and write. (Remember it is only a first draft - you have time to polish afterwards.)


Clitheroe Writers enjoying their tea break 
CWG writers came up with some wonderful ideas and very unexpected stories. The thing about this exercise (especially if you do it as a group) is that it forces your imagination to work outside the box and think of stories you wouldn't normally dream of writing. My own particular story on this day was about a disabled suicide bomber who heard a voice coming from a tin can, which was definitely not something I would normally have tackled. But tackle it I did! You can read the first draft here...

If you would like to have a go at this writing exercise, here are some of the ideas we came up with in Clitheroe. Feel free to use all or some of these, or invent your own.

Characters...
1. Child, who cannot swim 
2. An alcoholic, with OCD
3. Teacher, who shoplifts 
4. A disabled suicide bomber
5. A child who thinks he can fly
6. Zookeeper, obsessed with celebrity 
7. Barber, who sees ghosts 
8. Chef, with emotional incontinence
9. Grandma, with a guilty secret
10. Nurse, with a phobia
11. Father, who longs to dance
12. Priest, who cannot forgive
13. Little girl, with a broken gun
14. A jealous housekeeper
15. A passive aggressive bank manager
16. A very tall pot-holer
17. Lollipop lady, with Tourettes
18. Ambulance driver, who thinks he is a vet 
19. Builder, who writes poetry
20. A school teacher who is part alien
21. A butcher who hates his wife
22. A writer with a dictionary phobia
23. An out of work mercenary
24. A lingerie model with a large pimple on her bum
25. A father with a secret
26. A politician with morals
27. A little boy with a superpower
28. A mother who longs to parachute
29. Identical twins with narcissistic personality disorder
30. A sailor who gets sea sick

Situations...
1. Mistaken identity
2. Being stalked
3. Caught in a snowstorm
4. Applies for a job s/he is not qualified for
5. The house is flooded
6. A sink hole opens up
7. Wakes up in the wrong bed
8. Gets stood up
9. A body falls from a motorway bridge
10. Forgets their money
11. Tied to the railway track
12. Takes responsibility for a crime they didn’t commit
13. Wears the wrong shoes
14. Finds a head in the fridge 
15. Builds a giant sandcastle
16. Slides envelope under the door
17. Steals an umbrella
18. Trapped in a lift
19. Caught eating in the library
20. Pulls out the wrong plug
21. Laughs at a funeral
22. Hooks a briefcase from the canal
23. Eats the wrong cake
24. A voice coming from a can of beans
25. Falls inappropriately in love
26. Sees themselves on the news
27. Stands on a cliff edge
28. Finds the neighbours dog is dead
29. The boat leaks
30. Caught masturbating by someone they know

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting.