Three Creative Challenges

When You’re Stumped, Don’t Quit

By Annette Rey

I believe when writers feel stagnant they are giving up just before the next step they should take. Inventive exercises with words can make the light bulb flash in a writer’s head like a Broadway show neon marquee. Take that next step and see what can happen for you.

Following are three very simple Challenges to wake your mind and get you excited and to inspire fingers flashing words onto the page. Add the challenges to your Exercise Notebook.

Most of you have heard the poignant story in six words: For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn. This is a fine example of the first Challenge below.

Number One: Six-Word Challenge – Tell a whole story in six words.

I saw this challenge on Facebook – Six-word Scariest Story .

I wrote “With my last breath, humans extinct.”

I could write a great flash fiction with this idea.

Here are a few more of my six-word challenge ideas:

Blood test results. Confirm/deny. Desperate.

Cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Lupus. Life stinks.

Dogs. Can’t live life without them.

Bleached-white baby bones. Mystery awaiting justice.

I have made a list of words you can work from for this challenge. Choose a word and focus on it. Connect a few words to it. You’ll be surprised that you are not in a writer’s block state. Your mind is constantly working. Go for it!

Key words:

Magic                   Gifts                                   Holidays

Odor                     Volunteers                       Skeleton

Destiny                 Bordello                           Chaos

Success                 Carpet                               Fox

Failure                  Pillow                               Keel

Cogs                       Sin                                     Fellowship

Logs                       Fortune                            Pancreas

Blogs                      Courtroom                      Shadow

Dogs                       Radio                                Backstab

Now make lists of words for yourself. Add them to your Exercise Notebook. Use them when you are feeling stagnant. Remember, take the next step!

Number Two: Write a list of pairs of conflicting words . Don’t think about it. Just let the words flow. Start with one word and think of its opposite.

My creations:

Soft snowfall

Cold fire

Kind murder

Darling enemy

Friendly enemies

Mixing word meanings can really boost your idea writing. Just try to explain cold fire. What chords does that word-pairing strike in your brain? Do you place the cold fire in a scorned woman’s heart when she has just learned her lover is cheating on her? Is the fire her passion that has turned cold and is now aimed toward the competing woman? Sounds deadly to me. Or, turn that storyline into a comedy.

Number Three: Use alliteration – give answers using multiple words with the same first letter. You can also use the same sound as in Chicago sin.

My suggestions and answers:

Write a three-word title   —   Marmex Mansion Mysteries

Give a character a name —   Bobbie Beau Baxter

Describe a death scene    —   “bloody brutal”

Senior citizen dance         —   hip-hitching hula

Story description               —   Dale’s drastic dilemma

Now you. Play with your own creations.

I keep saying, “There is no such thing as writer’s block.” The problem is, writer’s stop when they feel stumped, so they think writer’s block is real. Keep moving forward. Do exercises. New ideas and your current story solutions are just below the surface of your mind.

Don’t quit.


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