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Short Story Prompts and Guidance
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Short Story Prompts and Guidance

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  • 1. Short Story Prompts Mister Connor’s Class www.misterconnor.com
  • 2. Choose one of the following:      A babysitter is snooping around her employer's house and finds a disturbing photograph... It's your character's first day at a new school. He or she wants a fresh start, develop a new identity. But in his or her homeroom, your character encounters a kid he or she knows from their last school... Your character suspects her husband is having an affair and decides to spy on him. What she discovers is not what she was expecting... Your character goes out for dinner on a date and becomes attracted to the waiter or waitress... Your character is a writer. But his new neighbours are so noisy that he can neither work nor sleep. He decides to take action...
  • 3. Characters    Your story should have no more than THREE characters. A protagonist, an antagonist and A. N. Other. You must make these realistic, believable.
  • 4. Characters (2)  1. 2. 3. 4. Jot down notes for the following subheadings: Appearance (face, hair, clothing, age, etc.) Personality (accent, beliefs, fears, weaknesses, tastes) Motivations (what is important to them and why) Finally, consider these notes and give your character an APPROPRIATE name.
  • 5. Characters (3)    Borrow someone else’s character notes and read over them. Hand the notes back and ask questions about their character – what do you think is missing? As these questions are asked, add to your character notes.
  • 6. Character (4)     Now write two paragraphs presenting your character. Write from an external, third-person perspective. Write as though you are describing a photograph. Show me the character – don’t simply tell me.
  • 7. Character (5)    For example: Stephen Postlethwaite is a survivor of the second world war. He is ninety-seven years old. He has brown eyes and white hair. OR Stephen sat , hunched over with his ninety-seven years; his brown eyes struggling for sight, his thinning white hair unkempt. The memories of 1941 are as keen today as the day they were formed.
  • 8. Location    Location must be reasonably detailed to convey a sense of reality. Readers find it much easier to engage with a location they can picture and understand. Jot down notes about what the location looks like, feels like. Use your five senses to help you. Detail is KING.
  • 9. Location (2)    Again, write a full description of the location in two paragraphs. You MUST focus on showing the reader the details rather than simply telling them. Describe what you are seeing as though you are describing a single image.
  • 10. The Dramatic Curve
  • 11. The Dramatic Curve (alternative)
  • 12. Plot     Will you use a CHRONOLOGICAL order, or something more difficult? You could start at the end and then retell the events leading up to it. (This only works if you start from a very dramatic end-point) You could drop the reader straight into the middle of the story. Jot down how you will approach your story.
  • 13. Plot (2)     Now make a plan of how your story will progress. Note the key events you need to include. The fuller your plan is, the easier your work will be later. Have somebody else read over your plan to check it makes logical sense.

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