Character Development

Fear Factor

Nothing can create conflict for your characters like good old-fashioned fear. Take time now to define your protagonist's biggest fear. Is it something physical (e.g. tight spaces or flying in an airplane) or internal (e.g. fear of failure, commitment, or rejection)? Write a scene in which your protagonist must face this fear.

Character Development

In The Eye of the Beholder

Our individual perspectives define what we first notice about a person's physical appearance. How do your characters see those around them? Describe one character's physical appearance from the perspectives of three other characters. What does each beholder's description reveal about who they are?

Writer's Block

Love Letters

If you're feeling stuck or intimidated about how to start writing, take five minutes before you jump into your writing project to pen a love letter (or hate letter) to the blank page in front of you. It's surprising where words — any words — will lead you once you put them down.

Plot Development

Alternative Timelines

If you haven't already, write a rough synopsis of where your story might be headed. If you already have a pretty good idea of this, but feel stuck trying to get there, try writing a brief "alternate timeline" of the story you have in mind. Are there fixed, important events that happen in your story? What would happen if your characters made different decisions in those crucial moments?

Plot Development

Grab Your Red Pen

Pick a scene or passage you've written that you feel dissatisfied with. Take a short time — maybe 10 or 20 minutes — to read the passage as though it were someone else's work. Take a red pen and make notes in the margins. If you didn't know anything else about the story, where else could this scene go? Try to get a feel for how malleable the words and the story can be.

Setting

From The Ground Up

Choose a place you've never been to. (If you have a map, you can close your eyes and pick a random spot for an extra challenge!) Do some research and try to learn everything you can about that location and make it the setting for the next scene you write. Try to include as many details as possible to make it seem like you've actually been there. For example, what does it smell like? What kind of people would you see there? What is the climate like?

Dialogue

Hearing Voices

Think about how your writing voice has changed since you began writing — then, try writing in the voice of Past You. Growing older, trying new experiences, and learning more about writing can all be factors that influence your voice. For example, you could write a chapter in the style of an elementary school diary entry, or look up an old writing assignment and use it to draft your project.

Character Development

Journaling From Your Characters' Perspectives

Set a timer and start free-writing from one of your character's perspectives. Try to really get inside their head — what do they want, what ticks them off, what do they feel passionate about? Are they writing in a diary, telling a story to a friend, or dictating a formal letter?

Plot Development

Lost The Plot?

How do you start a story — or get a story back on track? If you’re feeling lost or blocked, try templating to get your plot on course.

Here’s what to do: bullet point your initiating incident, your rising action, your crisis, and your resolution for both your main plot and subplots. Make a table to see events running parallel, remembering subplots exist to enhance, complicate – ultimately, compliment – your main action. Listing like this highlights any irrelevancies, keeping your tale on track, and makes all you write intertwined and significant to your protagonist’s journey. Plan out using this framework as your reference.

Writer's Block

The 81-Word Story

This exercise encourages you to write a complete story using very few words, and helps you learn how to avoid overwriting. When undertaking this exercise, it’s essential to edit your work carefully. Strip out anything unnecessary and make every word count. Here’s how it works:

  1. Take any novel from your bookshelf
  2. Turn to page 9
  3. Take the 9th word from the 9th line on the page
  4. Use that word to start a story
  5. Write a story that is exactly 81 words long
  6. If you’re feeling particularly clever, use 9 sentences that are 9 words long

You can also feel free to visit this website and submit your story to the 81 word writing challenge.