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Handful o' Fiction Writing Kick Starts*

Eavesdrop on Future Characters

Perhaps the favorite of most fiction writers. The one we do gleefully and automatically (or maybe that’s just me). Out in public, sit (or stand) within earshot of people having a conversation. At the grocery store, at a party, in a restaurant. Transcribe the dialogue. Later, add dialogue tags. Then add setting and subtext. Give it a beginning and an end. BOOM that’s a story!

Favorite Authors’ Cues

Check out your bookcase, virtual or physical. Who are your favorite fiction authors? Open those books and skim. Do they share writing traits or are they all over the map? If they share writing traits, list them and work the traits into your writing until they come naturally. If they're all over the place, pick out sentences of which you are particularly smitten, and one-by-one work similarly-structured sentences into your works-in-progress. Read your passages aloud (always read aloud before submitting) and edit until the text is yours.

Sense Your Surroundings

Step outside with a pen and notepad, no matter the weather or time of day. Perhaps there is a nearby park or forest. Or maybe a café or a UFO reverse-engineering lab. Take a deep breath. Take inventory of what you see, hear, smell, feel, and… yes, taste. If your fiction-writer’s imagination isn’t conjuring up a taste, then find something to taste (real or imagined). After you’ve documented the sensations, use them in a story.

Solve a Problem

Write out a problem, real or imagined. Could be anything. Nothing is too ridiculous. Go into detail. Include the high stakes and the conflict escalation. Solutions magically start to materialize when you put words to screen (or paper). So let the solutions, real or imagined, flow... BAM you’ve got a story idea!

Translate a Poem

Find a short poem you enjoy and imagine the real life event(s) that could have inspired it. Event(s) could be celebration, tragedy, or even fleeting emotion. Write a flash fiction story based on the poem’s event(s). Alternately, find a short poem you do not enjoy and do the same (once you’ve worked out its story, who knows, you may change your mind).

*Neither compounded nor hyphenated for this definition.

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