Character Development

Stranger Comes Knocking

There’s a saying: “Everyone is the hero of his or her own story.” For a 10-minute writing exercise, enter your book from another character’s eyes. Think about how differently that character would experience your plot and capture that in a short story.

Character Development

Gossip Around Town

How people perceive your character may be markedly different from who your character really is. Think about what the average stranger might think — or hear — of your character. What’s the gossip around town concerning your character? Write down a scene in which your protagonist is forced to confront this gossip, and the consequences of that confrontation.

Plot Development

Choose Your Adventure

In a "Choose Your Adventure" book, you are forced to make a decision at each and every plot point. The decisions you make will take you down diverging paths and dictate your eventual fate. Try this if you’re stuck on a plot development detail in your story. Sketch out the two different paths that a character can experience from one plot point, depending on what action he or she chooses to take.

Character Development

The Ellen DeGeneres Show

A talk show is scripted to promote the guest and discuss topics with which the guest is comfortable. Imagine your protagonist on the Ellen Degeneres Show (or The Late Show With Stephen Colbert — whichever show you’re familiar with). What questions would be asked of your protagonist? What funny anecdotes would your protagonist share? Write down the reactions of both your protagonist and the host.

Dialogue

Famous Lines

Dialogue isn’t exclusive: characters may say the same things, but mean something entirely different in the context of the scene. Pick one of the below famous lines from literature and film. Then start a scene by having a character say it. Develop the scene that follows in 500-600 words and see where it takes your characters.

  • “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.
  • “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
  • “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!”
  • “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
  • “Oh, don’t let’s ask for the moon. We have the stars.”
Dialogue

Dialogue Only, Please!

Flex the writing muscles in your brain by writing a short story that ONLY uses dialogue. For an extra challenge, introduce and juggle more than 3 characters throughout the course of this story.

Setting

Guess Where?

Good worldbuilding is when the author can bring a place to life for the reader. Using your powers of description, describe (in 2-3 paragraphs) a place or setting with which you’re familiar. Then show your work to somebody who knows the spot and see if they are able to guess it through your words.

Writer's Block

Stream of Consciousness

Sometimes in order to get over writer’s block, you simply need to put word down after word. Keeping this in mind, set the timer to 15 minutes. Start writing whatever comes to your mind until time’s up. Then do it again — but, this time, write stream-of-consciousness from the perspective of your protagonist.

Writer's Block

Mad Libs

Close your eyes and write down four adjectives at random. Now write down three nouns. Now write down two verbs. Now write down one adverb. Now open your eyes. Your challenge is to write a 500-word short story based off of these ten words.

Writer's Block

The Food Critic

Write a review of a restaurant at which you recently ate. Describe the food as much as you can. Feel free to be eviscerating as well.