I spent the majority of my writing time on my current novel in progress, and I miss the act of brainstorming new stories. So to practice that muscle, I’m going to create a challenge: can I create a simple story on the fly? Let’s try.

  • Hero’s fatal flaw: he is afraid of heights.
  • Plot problem: in front of him is a rope bridge, on the other side, a diamond ring, a gift for his wife. Plot question: Will he cross the bridge and obtain the ring?
  • Why did he want this for his wife in the first place? He’s afraid he’ll lose her and believes this ring will win her love back. So, his agenda is to win her back. That’s his overarching life agenda. to marry and start a family, and he’s 36 years old, feels like he’s running out of time. (Now we know the major consequences if he can’t cross this bridge.)

    *Why was he losing her in the first place?

    Could it be, say he’s afraid to go out outside, he fears that crossing the street or walking down a staircase will cause the world to end? Yes! Now, we have a full story. He must overcome that.

And there he goes, down the bridge, where he fights his fear of heights, empowered by his fear of losing his loved one. And he’s okay! He made it. Not only that, but it was easier than he thought. Yes, his palms are sweaty, but he made it. Upon realizing it wasn’t so bad, he leaves the ring, sprints back across the bridge and to his wife. He’s a changed man. He tells her let’s not waste our time with marriage and have a baby now. She sees the new flame inside of him and they live happily ever after.

  • And what theme arose, naturally, out of that? You’re stronger than you realize. And we can drive this theme home, by making his internal dialogue around this. “What if you just take one step onto the bridge.” He steps. “That’s not so bad.” And in the end: “That was easy! What more can I do!”

That was an easy challenge! What more can I do!