Select ONE of the following options:
Option #1: The Story Machine (250-500 words)If you have an alternate idea that you would like to try out instead of the above options, please go ahead.Using the “The Story Machine” list below, pair up a character in Column A with an unlikely activity from Column B. Based on your combination, write a short story. (Note: if you choose a likely combination, your resulting story may be less interesting, although I should make no assumptions about this class! Surprise me! Better yet, surprise yourselves!)Option #2: The Objective Point of View, 3rd Person (250-500) wordsUsing Ernest Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants as a model, write a story from the objective point of view (see page 4 of the “Creative Writing–Writing Fiction” handout).Option #3: Second Person (“You”) (250-500 words):Write an “interior monologue” in which YOU (as a “fictional you” protagonist) directly address another person (antagonist), with whom your protagonist has a serious problem or issue. Speak as if the antagonist were standing in the room with your protagonist, but the antagonist isn’t allowed to answer back. YOU (as a “fictional you) will monopolize the conversation. For an example, see Girl,by Jamaica Kincaid. See also page 4 of the “Creative Writing–Writing Fiction” handout.
Don’t worry if none of these prompts inspire you.
Don’t worry if you don’t finish this piece today or ever; you might discover that this prompt, for you, is a “false start.” Writers should experience a lot of false starts.
The Story Machine
Column A: Characters
1. Tour guide
2. Delivery person
4. Police officer
6. Fund raiser
7. Local talk show host
8. Mayor of a small town
9. Airline pilot
11. Biologist or chemist
12. Clinical psychologist
13. Ditch digger
14. Fork lift driver
17. Petty crook
18. Professional gambler
20. Graphic artist
1. Is being stalked by a stranger________________________________________________
2. Subdues an unruly passenger on a flight to Paris
3. Submits a sexy novel to a publisher
4. Hypnotizes an acquaintance at a party
5. Rescues an elderly person after an accident in her/his home
6. Observes a man and a woman engaged in a drug deal
7. Collects stuffed/plush animals and dolls
8. Enters a cherry pie in a local cooking contest
9. Participates in a demonstration for peace
10. Takes a tour group to the World Trade Center site
11. Near the Turkish Market, observes a young boy kicking a puppy.
12. Attends The Skopje Jazz Festival (or other local event) wearing a clown costume
13. Parachutes out of an airplane
14. Enters a dance contest
15. Tries to join Mensa (High I.Q. organization)
16. Moonlights as a Taxi driver
17. Steals $1,000 from his/her mother
18. As an animal hoarder, owns 55 dogs and 33 cats, but lives in a big city apartment
19. Attends Star Trek conventions at least six times a year, dresses up as a Ferangi.
20. Saves a child’s life
"The Story Machine" has been adapted from What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers. New York: HarperCollinsCollegePublishers, 1995. 134-135.
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