When my stories need a boost, I like to start by picking an object and figuring out its background or how it might fit into my story.
Sometimes, this is just a thinking exercise that helps me explore inside the world of my story – I may not even include the object in the final draft.
Other times, the object becomes a key factor in the plot.
If you haven’t got a story idea at the moment, or if you are feeling a little stalled in your work-in-progress, give this exercise a try.
Maybe you’ll get your story moving again or maybe you’ll just have a little fun playing with ideas. Either way, you will be practicing your writerly skills and that’s always a good thing.
To get started, pick an object.
Select something you can see right now, make something up, or do a general Google search. Try googling things like ‘unusual objects’ or ‘kitchen tools’ or ‘decorations’ or pick a category that has something to do with your story or your interests.
Then, ask yourself these questions about the object you chose. Make some notes or write a few sentences for any of the questions that appeal to you.
1) Who could be observing this item? How might they feel about it? How would they describe it?
2) Where could this object belong? Where would it be completely out of place? How would you know one way or the other?
3) Who could be seeking this object? Who would be avoiding it? How could it help them? Or how could it be harmful?
4) What purpose could this object serve? How can you tell?
5) Why could this object be important? What might make it useful or valuable, and to whom?
Whether your object ends up in your story or not, this process will get your brain in gear. You will start thinking about scenes and about ‘what ifs’ and about the ways that people interact with things in their environment. Once you start thinking in those ways, you will end up with some useful ideas.