Friday, December 14th, 2012

Writing Prompt: Deadlines

Give your character a deadline and you’ve got instant tension in a story. And without tension, you’ve got no story (or maybe no good story).

This works in real life, too.

Case in point: I gave myself a deadline of tonight to have all of my Christmas prep done: present buying, gift wrapping, house cleaning, card sending, etc. Talk about tension! And tonight’s a mad scramble: I’ve got about eight more presents to wrap and 30 Christmas cards to get out the door.

And I’ve come pretty close to my goal. But, alas, there’s one mail-order item that hasn’t arrived yet, and one more gift that hasn’t been bought.

Still: the next 10 days are going to be pretty relaxing around here. And that was my goal, to get it all done so that I could spend some actual time enjoying the holiday instead of making a mad dash in the weeks that lead up to it.

(You’ll want to give your character more dire consequences, however, if you want some real drama in your story. Kidnap his girlfriend and give him five hours to get the ransom money. Have a job hang in the balance, or a long-standing relationship, or a life.)

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write a scene where your character is presented with some kind of deadline. Make the stakes high, and have your character really struggle to meet it. Don’t let the answer to the problem come from an outside resource.
  • Write the “consequences” scene if your character doesn’t meet her deadline.
  • Journalers: write about a deadline you made in the nick of time. Talk about what would have happened if you hadn’t have made the deadline.
  • Write a poem about figurative deadlines…fall turning into winter, the end of a long life, a road that goes nowhere. Invoke the feeling of a deadline, but don’t use the word deadline.

Good luck!

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