Introduce a character with an accent
You may have started out with a guy from Manchester UK, however you’ve hit a wall with how far you can take him. How about giving him an accent. Asian? Is he from India or Thailand or maybe Vietnam? You can then build on the ‘hints’ by mentioning e.g. hair colour or clothing styles. You can be vague, or specific by bringing in photographs of relatives or mention key events the character may have seen. The main important aspect is be accurate, do your research, don’t stereotype and try to speak to people from the place itself. It is easy to offend people or look amateur by getting small details wrong, however it can really open up the scope of your novel. Also, it isn’t always necessary to type your dialogue in the accent, it can hinder the flow of the narrative. Credit the reader with the intellect to be able to work that out for themselves.
Change temperature, tropics v ice cold
Is your scene fairly boring, hard to add an element of excitement? Why not add in a massive snow fall or flood or heatwave. This can be used to bring unexpected characters in to the plot e.g. with parks filled with sunbathers, or if it’s deep winter a lack of people to witness an event. It also gives you scope to change physical descriptions. In cold weather the baddy has a hood up so is hard to identify. If it’s hot the man driving a ice truck can easily blend in. You could move the whole story to another season or place, or have a freak weather event, your choice.
A map is important – why?
The police find a map on the table. OK so this has become a little bit overdone so avoid that one. How about a mobile phone in the hand of a dead body, it has a map ‘app’ open with a bookstore marked with a flag? OK, so that’s my phone, not the dead body just the map ‘app’ but you get the idea. The map could be a huge artwork in a store, with special significance to the owner. You could just add a chair with a map fabric cover to hint at the character’s love of travel.
Someone gets lost – what is the result
This can be really effective. It can be alien invaders landing on the wrong planet, through to a fairy prince coming across a tower in the woods with a princess locked in. OK the second one may have been done already but you get the idea. Think about when you got lost, did you panic, embrace the experience or just cry? How did you get back on track, was it an adventure or did it scare you? Put those emotions down on paper, they will convince the reader of the event’s significance.
Been here before, but when and why?
If your character has a photographic memory you’ll have incuded this one already. However for the rest of us, scribble down some ideas around when you felt you’d been somewhere but couldn’t recall why. It could be as simple as walking into a shop and knowing where to find an unusual item. Describe how the character reacts and how they recall things. How do you do that? How do you store memories? Do you put them in a memory room or do you easily forget? Talk to your buddies, ask if they’ve had deja vu, did they doubt their sanity or laugh about it?
All of these creative writing prompts are just quick ideas to kickstart your imagination. I want to persuade you to explore ideas. You could commit to spending ten minutes developing each one as part of your daily writing exercises. I’d love to hear if you use any of these and if so how you developed the thread. Now get that pen and paper and start scribbling.
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