Here’s a handy exercise which will show you how to write a story about anything, even when it seems like there’s no inspiration to be had.
First of all, I need an object. This is easy seeing as the world is full to bursting with all sorts of objects. Right now, I’m looking at a chair, so I’ll describe it.
It was a garden chair. Brilliant white-painted iron wrought with affectionate care into floral wreaths on the back and seat. Arms curving downwards with refined ease to form spiral patterns, repeated on each of its four legs.
Where is my object? Setting is important for transporting the reader somewhere new.
Rays of bright golden sunlight slanted down between the dappled green oak leaves overhead. They fell on the overgrown porch, bathing the straggling weeds in warmth. The sunlight chased shadows and cobwebs out from under the garden chair, bringing the boisterous yellow of dandelion and sunflower into the morning light.
Of course, we need a protagonist for our story. This has to be a character that the reader relates with on an emotional level. If not human, they must at least have human thoughts or feelings.
The chair felt the gentle warmth spreading across its back and down its legs. It exalted in the first reddish blush of autumn in the trees and the whisper of coming winter in a quiet breeze. Its joy built, and suddenly, it vanished. Summer had ended. Those long days of picnics, garden parties and barbecues were far behind them now. The garden chair shone in the autumn sunlight, waiting to be forgotten.
What sort of story has only one character? No story that I’ve ever read. Our protagonist needs company. Pick a common literary trope such as the beautiful young damsel, you can add depth to their character later.
With a swish and flutter of settling skirts, Karin dropped into the garden chair. She threw her head back onto its shoulder and allowed the sun to kiss her face and neck, once so pale but now a tawny brown from months spent on the hot summer porch.
Finally, some sort of conflict is needed. A trigger which will fire the starting pistol on our story. We already have our damsel, so let’s do what comes naturally and put her in distress.
For a moment, the garden chair relaxed. It was an unexpected blessing. A temporary reprieve from the sentence of a winter spent alone in the chilling wind. Then it felt the small hands tighten on its arms, sensed the woman’s spine grow rigid against its back. She let out a thin whistle of air, pitched forward and began to weep into her cupped palms. Karin’s sorrow was made more painful to witness by the silence with which she endured it. But the garden chair had no power to intervene or escape, desperate as it was not to be a witness to her suffering.
Let me know in the comments if any of this was useful. Do you have any writing tips to share?
- Tip #1: The Prologue
- Tip #2: The Process
- Tip #3: Writing Faux Pas – Debunked
- Tip #4: A Useful App For Writers
- Tip #5: Writing The Main Plot
- Tip #6: Endings
- Tip #7: Writing Historical Fiction and Fantasy
- Tip #8: Character Pitfalls
- Tip #9: Past Inspiration
- Tip #10: Barnstorming For Beginners
- Vikingr (historical fiction)
- The First Covenant (high fantasy)
- Scarlet Murder (crime novella – $0.99)