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Similar exercises

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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.

The Story Swamp

Sometimes writers think up a character and jump straight into writing, without fully fleshing out the concept at a foundational level. This then means they falter and end up writing a very confused draft. I call this 'The Story Swamp.'Avoid The Story Swamp by writing a 'logline' or 'pitch' of approximately 25-60 words. This logline should cover what B2W calls The 3 Cs:Character: Who is your protagonist? What does s/he need or want?Conflict: Who is the antagonist? Why does s/he want to stop or counter your protagonist? What other obstacles are in your protagonist's way?Clarity: Do we know what genre or type of story this is? Are you using familiar or clich_d language? Are your word choices too vague?

Clue Hunt

The best way to learn is by reading, so pick up a book that had a plot twist that surprised you and yet felt right. Look for subtle foreshadowing in it. Start at the beginning of the book and find the clues that point towards the twist. Make a list of them. Include the wording, so that you can see why they weren't obvious at first.

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Three Questions

Come up with three thought provoking questions. Such as:

  1. Who is Sara?
  2. Why is she running down the street?
  3. What is she holding?
Or:
  1. Who is knocking at the door?
  2. Do you know them?
  3. What do they want?
Without stopping to think or check on your spelling, answer these questions as fast as you can, with whatever comes to mind.

The Hook

What is your story's hook? Analyze your opening scene and identify the implicit but specific question it encourages readers to ask. Is this question in the first paragraph or, better yet, the first line? How can you strengthen it?

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