One of the biggest challenges people face when starting out in creative non-fiction is trying to find the true story in the tragedy. Everyone has felt the pain of a lost love; everyone has someone very important and special who died suddenly (or died of cancer).
Since we all have those stories in our life, they aren’t the ones you want to write because you want to give your reader an answer to the questions, “why this story?” and “why this point in the story?”
Also, from my personal experience writing about my life, I can never get the story on paper (or computer screen). The prompt I propose for today gives a person a way to walk around the tragic event.
Today’s exercise asks you to make a timeline of the event. Once you have the timeline done, start crossing off events everyone has in common. What you are left with are the events specific to you and in those events is your true story.
(Inspired by Kyle Minor’s Chapter, “The Question of Where We Begin” in The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Nonfiction http://http://www.rosemetalpress.com/Catalog/FGWFNF.html)
Last week, your character wrote down his or her New Year’s Resolution. This week I have some bad news. Your character already slipped up and broke his or her resolution.
Today’s writing prompt is asking you to get into the mind of your character from the perceptive of this broken resolution and find out what happened and what will happen now.
First, how did the character get off track?
Second, will the character throw up his or her hands and chalk up the resolution? Or will the character dust himself or herself off and start again?
Let this prompt carry you where it does and enjoy exploring this with your character.
In the spirit of the New Year and new resolutions, I thought it might be an interesting writing prompt to explore a New Year’s Resolution with one of your many characters.
Try taking your character and have him or her sit down to write out his or her New Year’s resolution list. Maybe the character wants to be very detailed in the list explaining how he or she will lose those ten pounds or quit smoking. However your character would act and whatever he or she would say should go on the paper.
Pay attention to the setting of this writing of the list as well. Is your character sitting alone in a dark room? Is your character at a loud, sparkling party and everyone is in a circle saying his or her resolution?
The goal of this is to have your character set in a scene writing out his or her resolution.
Whether you are deep into NaNoWriMo or not, today’s writing prompt will appeal to all of us.
Today, take a story you’ve been working on and do a plot diagram of the story.
Then write down all of your characters and their names. If you need to, create a family tree for them.
Next, write a scene that takes place either before or after your story. It can be ten years before or after your story takes place or it could be five years.
The purpose of this prompt is to give you a bigger sense of the story you created. Could this short story turn into a novel? Could this novel be a series?
Experiment with this prompt and see where it takes you.
For those NaNoWriMo-ing it up:
Just write. It’s only day two. Keep writing and next week we’ll talk about what to do when you get stuck in your novel.
For those who aren’t:
Today is a free writing day. Take about ten minutes and brain dump. Any random thought that comes to your head, write it down.
Then put it away until tomorrow.
Tomorrow I want you to read what you wrote. Is there a funny line a character you’re working with might say? Is there a situation that happened to you that you wrote about that a character would react to in a different way?
Most likely your free write will, in some way, have something to do with a character you are working on and this free write will help free up your mind.