I'm taking this one wholesale from Tom Spanbauer. Forever ago, I took a week-long class from him, and he gave us a pre-class assignment (your prompt): Write about a moment after which you [or your character] were different. That's it. That's all he said. No further explanation. I, however, will give you a little more: … Continue reading Scene Prompt #17: The Frozen Moment
In real life, when things are really stressful or scary, time can seem to slow down. You catch more details. You have more time to process, even more time to move your body if necessary. In life, slow motion probably doesn't happen very often, but in story--really, in every scene--there's a moment where things change, … Continue reading Scene Prompt #15: Slow Motion
Do you know what your book's about? For this prompt, you need to know the main character's overall story goal. You also need to know who the goal's main opponent is, the one character who embodies the opposite philosophical position. Yeah, I said opposite philosophical position: We're going to pretend these two characters are captains … Continue reading Scene Prompt #14: The Big Fight
We're going back to basics here, which I was reminded of as I flipped through a book by Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett. You don't have to just sit down and immediately start drafting "in scene", beat-by-motivationally-reacted-unit-beat (this post is coming). Instead, you can take a couple minutes and summarize the scene to both give … Continue reading Scene Prompt #13: The Synopsis
This prompt comes from Will Dunne, who says, "If a scene is of any length, and if it has more than one beat, and if it rises above the level of monotony, the character will experience different emotions during the course of the scene." Thinking these emotions through ahead of time can help you write … Continue reading Scene Prompt #12: Emotional Storyboard
Many authors put epigraphs at the beginning of their novels, a quote that foreshadows the story in some way. Does your story idea have an epigraph? If not, see if you can find/Google/make up something that might work. Now, write a scene that epitomizes the epigraph. What kind of scene goal does it suggest? What … Continue reading Scene Prompt #11: The Epigraph
I got this prompt from Amy Gottlieb, who's currently doing a (free!) four-class series on the story behind the story. She says our readers aren't necessarily reading to find out what happens. They're also (primarily?) looking for the interesting, unique way that YOUR (character's) mind works. The way you think. How your mind travels and … Continue reading Scene Prompt #10: I remember . . .
Last week we looked at Laura Whitcomb's Heartstorm tool. "If you're having trouble letting go and allowing your inner poet to babble on the topic of your scene," she says to "try this poetry exercise to warm up." Take as long as you like (it doesn't need to be limited to ten minutes) and write … Continue reading Scene Prompt #8.5: The Emotion before the HeartStorm
This one comes straight from Laura Whitcomb. I'm just gonna quote it: Set a timer and write as fast as you can about the scene for ten minutes. This is your heartstorm. Don't overthink it. Don't think at all. Feel the scene, the emotions, the sensations, the wonder. Don't judge what comes out of you. … Continue reading Scene Prompt #8: The HeartStorm
This one comes from Steven James. Think of the scene you want to work on. Now, from the perspective of the scene's point-of-view character: Tell us what went wrong. That's it. Books Mentioned in this Post That's it for me!