Fiction Prompt #116: Training Day

Seth walked into the gym, all long and lanky, fit but in the natural day-to-day physical labor way, well aware of how out of place he looked. He still didn’t want to admit that he signed up for a membership; especially the reason why he signed up. The threatening notes started six weeks ago and only seemed to be increasing in delivery and intensity. The first week it was one note with a rather unimaginative threat of “I’ll get you.” The next week there were two notes where the threats became stronger, but still not specific or imaginative. Last week he received a note every day and each one described a specific place he had been and how the author of these notes restrained himself from walking up and slicing him open in some way. He contacted the police but the best they offered was a restraining order, which he had no way to serve since he didn’t know who was sending the notes or why. He had to do something to protect himself and he had to do it quick. His best friend and business partner Craig recommended a mixed martial arts trainer at his gym after Seth refused to buy a gun. Seth swore he would never own a gun after his best friend in grade school accidentally shot himself with his father’s gun. So he went in and talked to the guy Craig recommended and found himself walking out with a membership and one-on-one personal training sessions that began the very next day, which happened to be today.

Memoir Prompt #115: Someplace New

Today I want you to think about the most unusual or foreign to you place you have ever visited or lived. It may be a foreign country you visited, or perhaps a bar that is outside your usual haunts, or it could even be a town you stopped in on a long drive. Whatever and wherever it was, I want you to think back to that moment you first encountered this place. Now set your timer for twenty minutes and remember as you write to use all your senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch.

Did you plan to visit this location or was it spur of the moment? What were you doing that led you there? How did you arrive? Were you alone or was someone with you?  The moment your eyes first took in this place what did you see? What were the first things your other senses took in? Were there people milling about? What did they look like? Did they welcome you or make you feel uncomfortable and out of place? What was happening in your body as you took in this place? Were your nerves on edge? Were you sweating? Was your mouth watering due to savory smells? Did anything unexpected or unusual happen while you were there? Take us through this first encounter until you are either on the road or settled somewhere where you can relax and reflect on the time spent in this new place.

If you have experienced many different places try writing about each one over the next few weeks. When you review these pieces of writing what do you about yourself? Are your senses drawn to the same things first every time? Do you take in people before place? Is there a pattern to how you assess a place? Are you skeptical or do you welcome the new experience? Is there a pattern to your physical reactions and behaviors? What can you learn from each experience and all your experiences combined that you can share with others? We learn so much about ourselves and others from being in new and different places, what can you share with the world?

Fiction Prompt #115: Rescue Ranch

Morning was beginning to show signs of awakening, the dark black of night turning a dark blue, then the blue ever so slowly brightening and lightening. It was the kind of morning where the sun rise would be beautiful over the ocean, if only she were near one. She took in a deep breath of the cold morning air. It was amazing the number of stars she could see out in the middle of the pasture where she lie on her back, her heavy blanket on the dewy grass beneath her. She liked it at the horse rescue ranch in middle of Nebraska; almost as much as she liked living near the ocean. But if you had asked her she would never have guessed this is where she would end up settling down, not even if you asked her six months ago.

Memoir Prompt #114: Facing Our Fear

What makes you afraid or nervous? We all want to say nothing, but the fact is there is always something that stretches our current boundaries and makes us nervous. But there are some things that no matter how many times we face them, no matter the circumstances, we can’ term to shake that knot in our stomach. So what is it that really gets your heart pumping, palms sweating, throat closing or nerves on edge. This is what I want you to write about today. Remember to use all your senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. Let’s get started.

I want you to think back to the last time you had to face this person, thing or situation. What caused you to be involved in the first place? Where were you? Were there other people there? Who were they? Start at the moment you found out about your participation and write through the entire scene until you reach the end. Remember to think about all you see, hear, smell, taste and touch. Also write about what you were thinking as the moment came closer. Do you have any tactics to try to minimize your fear? Did you use them? What was happening in your body? What were your movements like from the start to the end and did they change over the course of the scene? What were your speech patterns like and did they remain the same or change over the course of the scene ? Once you reach the end of the scene how did you feel? Was it as bad as you thought? Worse? Better? Was the outcome successful or did it fall short? How did the other people respond? 

It is always a good idea to look at what scares us, if for no other reason than to try to debunk the fear, but also so we can learn more about how we handle our fear and what we can learn from it. Try writing out several different times you faced this fear and compare notes. If you have more than one fear consider writing about the other fear(s). You may learn something about yourself, you may succeed in debunking it, or you may be able to help someone else.

Fiction Prompt #114: The Diner

Jenny sat in the back booth of the diner, her back to the wall, her eyes darting to the door whenever it opened. She fidgeted in her seat, creeping forward toward the table, then sliding back so her back rested against the vinyl covered cushion. Her palms were sweaty, causing her to wipe them down the top of her jean covered thighs. She shouldn’t have come. She knew she shouldn’t have come, her stomach roiling and fighting her all day long, the smell of the grease stirring up the saliva in her mouth. She glanced at the round clock on the wall just behind the long counter; ten thirty-three. He was late. Her eyes scanned the Windows looking for signs of a man, a car, anything. Perhaps, she thought, I can slip out before he gets here.

Memoir Prompt #113: Arguements

Today we are going to look at arguments. We all have them at one time or another. Some are for valid reasons, while others, after looking back, were for ridiculous reasons or no real reason at all. Perhaps we were just in a mood that day. Regardless, looking back at our arguments is always a good exercise. A few benefits to looking back at our arguments are that it may show us a pattern in our thinking, what triggers us, if we have more valid arguments or frivolous ones, and if there are particular people we argue with more than others. But another great benefit to arguments is that it can help us write better dialogue.

So set your timer for 20 minutes and begin to think about the last argument you had with someone. Remember to include all your senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. Who was this argument with? Where were you? What started the argument? A statement. A question. A gesture or action. Who started it? What was the first thing said? What was happening in your body? Did people around you notice or did you notice the people around you? What was the next thing said? Write through the argument word for word and blow for blow. Think about the movements and changes in the physicality of both yourself and the person you were arguing with; including body language and facial features. How did the argument come to an end? Did you have remain in this person’s presense or could one of you leave? Did the argument get resolved on one opinion or another or was it left with no real resolution. What was the very next thing you did? Did this argument impact the way you approached or tackled your next task? Write until you come to a natural end. 

Try this for a few different arguments then compare the stories. What can you learn about yourself? What does this tell you and others about our culture and world? What lesson is there to be found? Our arguments, both valid and frivolous, can be great tools for learning and teaching.

Fiction Prompt #113: Accidents Happen

Samantha heard the screech of the brakes, her eyes darting to look in her rear view mirror, just as the impact of the large dark SUV slammed into the back right quarter of her Ford Mustang. She didn’t have time to do anything. She heard the crumpling of metal as her car spun for what felt like an eternity, her long golden hair flying in front of her face, blocking her view. Just as it came to a stop she pushed her hair out of the way and saw the front end of a white pick-up truck slam into her left front quarter, pushing her car backward until they both came to a stop. Then it happened. Her world went dark.

Memoir Prompt #112: Building Excitement

When we were kids almost anything would make us squirm with excitement. It didn’t take something grand like an exotic vacation, in fact it often was as simple as an ice cream truck or a day at the park. Today I want you to think about the last time you were truely excited about something. I’m talking the jittery, wiggly, energy buzzing kind of excitement. Set your timer for at least 20 minutes and remember to use all your senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch.

What was it you were so excited about? Why did this appeal to you so much? Where were you when you were first informed of this opportunity? Who was with you? What do you remember about your surroundings? Was it hours, days, weeks or longer until the moment arrived? Think about how it felt in your body when you first found out about it. Now take us through the time you had to wait. How did you pass that time? Did this upcoming adventure pop into your head regularly or was in pushed to the back of your mind? As the time neared, how did your actions change? What was happening in your body? Were you going alone or were people with you? How did you get there? Take us on the journey with you. Now take us to the event or moment that sparked all this excitement. Where are you and who is with you? What is around you? How are you feeling and acting? Walk us through this experience to the end. Did it live up to your expectations? What really made this experience live up to your expectations or fall short of them. What were your thoughts and actions after it was over? How was the trip home? What impact did this event or moment have on your life?

As we get older we far too often lose the excitement life has to offer. We take so many things for granted and push off opportunities to find joy. By looking back at the things that bring us excitement we are able to see the wonder and beauty life has available to us. Sharing these moments allows us to remind not only ourselves, but others as well, that we have the ability to make choices that lead to exciting moments. We have the ability to seek them out.

Fiction Prompt #112: Inside the Bakery

Cinnamon and apples hang in the air. The fingers of the scent stretch and reach toward the people passing by on the sidewalk. Even half a block down from the small bakery that opened last week my stomach registers the sweet aroma and begins to grumble. I hadn’t really paid attention to the name of the place. I suppose that was because as I walked past the first time, and every time since, my eyes caught on the woman behind the counter with the light strawberry blond hair and creamy white skin. Even the heavenly scents disappear the moment my eyes find her. I keep telling myself I’ll go in and order something. Say hello. But as soon as I see her my palms sweat and my heart races and I quickly walk past hoping she didn’t see me. I mean really, what do I think will happen. Do I actually think a beautiful woman like her would be swept off her feet by a customer ordering her pie and saying a polite hello? Especially a customer that hasn’t been able to sweep any woman off her feet in his thirty-eight years of living. 

Memoir Prompt #111: Influential People

Today I want you to look back over your life and think about the people you have influenced you. These are people who helped shape you into the person you are today. They inspired you. Encouraged you. They even set you right when you started to stray down a negative path. They may have been a family member, a friend, a teacher or someone from the community around you. 

Begin by setting a timer for 5 minutes. I want to list everyone that made an impact on your life in some way. You might consider having two columns, positive impacts and negative impacts. Or you could just make one long list as the names pop into your head and separate them later.

Once you have your list, choose one person who had a major impact in some way. Now set your timer for at least 15 minutes and begin writing about this person. Remember to use all your senses as you do: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch.

When did you first meet this person? Where were you? How old were you? What were you each wearing? What do you see, smell, hear and feel? What was the first thing this person said to you? Write us through this first meeting all the way to the end. What were your first impressions of this person? Did you like them immediately? Or did you find them scary or unlike able? How did the meeting end? Did you know you would be interacting with this person on a regular basis or did you think the was a one time meeting? Now take us through as many meetings with this person as you remember. If there are serveral, take us through some of the more important ones. You may choose to set time aside to make a list of all the important interactions you had with this person so that you can come back and explore each in more depth at a future writing exercise. 

The reason I asked you to do this exercise is that we are all influenced by the people around us. The people who influence us aren’t always the ones we expect and they aren’t always the most likeable at first or by most liked by others. Too often, we take these people for granted. There are lessons there that shaped who we became and they also have the power to help guide and shape others. You may find that the stories you write about this person are something you want to share with your son or daughter, or perhaps you want to share them with others who also know the person they are about. Then again, you may find the lessons and experiences are worth sharing with the world; lessons that can help guide and shape a much larger audience.