Oops! No Contest Entries–Things To Resent

Hi my reading and writing friends,

Story Engineering, by Larry Brooks

Now’s your chance–write!

I had hoped to bring you some great creative writing from our community today, but I guess people didn’t have time to write a short story that had two characters in it with the theme of “resentment.” This closes our writing contest of a story on resentment.

That’s okay.  We’ll just play with the pre-writing of such a story today.


When I get a theme for story, I love to start with–you guessed it–a brainstorm.  So, just as Story Engineering suggests, I’ll brainstorm a list of things I resent:

  • It’s not fair that I care for my pets the best I can and they still have accidents, and health issues. And then the vet can say “pay for all these tests, but there’s no guarantee of a diagnosis.” What if a vet took their kid to a doctor and got the same line?
  • It’s not fair that just as I’m starting to grow up a little, I look in the mirror and see an old woman with more wrinkles than a pile of clothes forgotten in the laundry machine.  What if you could put yourself through the wash and come out like one of the no-iron materials–all fresh and new every seven years or so?  What would that “washing machine” look like? How would it feel to be wash & dried?
  • I resent corporations that make bottom line profits more important than product safety.  What if corporations could be put on trial for such things as murder or negligence (okay, so technically, now that the Supreme Court has given corporations human status, I suppose they could). Who would be a jury of their peers?  If the federal government arrested, say, Wyeth Laboratories, would the pharmaceutical world come to a standstill as Lederle, Johnson & Johnson, and ten other corporations get called in for jury duty?  I like this idea.  Just makes me giggle.
  • It’s really not fair that artists don’t get paid well, just because they work in fields everyone dabbles in for hobbies.  Think of it.  Writers, painters, musicians, actors, comedians, dancers and more are important to the meaning of our lives.  Yet they still have to have “real” jobs to pay the bills. What if football had to be viewed live because no television crew was there to produce the game? What if all the boxes on grocery store shelves were printed with black words on a white box, because no graphic artists and ad copy people could afford to work in their chosen fields?  This sounds like a future-focused sci-fi to me.

The next step in this process would be to choose one of the ideas above, and give it a little “character.” I may personally resent the things above, but my protagonist doesn’t need to be me.  I love the idea of a jury of corporate peers, so let’s play with that:

Character One:

CEO Bradley Common (yes I let a name pop into my head for this) is mad.  Why? Because he has 5,426 unread emails in his in-box, twelve management meetings, 2 take-over bids to exercise and now, he’s been called in for jury duty.  Brad’s corporate lawyer can’t get him out of this because a new law says you must follow the spirit of the “request” for jury duty and actually show up.  Now Brad hates Sunco Corp, who’s on trial–not for the crime of accidentally giving thousands of people skin cancer with their failed sunblock, but for wasting Brad’s valuable time. Brad needs an exit strategy, like yesterday.

Character Two:

District Attorney Laura Steele is fed up  with these prima-donna executives.  She’s going to throw the book at Sunco and make them an example.  US made products must have higher standards than in recent years.  Besides, she’s been using Sunco skin care products for years, and now she’s noticing misshapen moles on her skin.  She looks over the man in front of her, making his excuses to the judge. Hmm. Bradley Common. What a jerk.  He’s head of Jargon Pharmaceuticals, one of the biggest chemical companies in the world, and it’s rumored, between the questionable cosmetic products and the seven divorces,  this guy is a real lady-killer.

Now, You Take Over

I’ve played with themes and characters with you this morning.  To be honest, this has been an off-the-cuff writing session, so I’m sure that you can find lots of problems with the writing.  But still, try playing with this.  Who will be your protagonist, Bradley or Laura?  Why?  What MUST they do in order to WHAT (achieve their goal), and how will they GROW as a result of this journey?

Decide whether this will be a thriller, a comedy, or even a romance. Maybe you’ll stay in the notion of a future-focused sci-fi.  Be creative and have fun.  No contest this time. Just our thanks to Larry Brooks for his terrific book, and maybe you’ll write a story that a fiction magazine will publish.  Good luck.

The Brainstorming Process in Creative Writing

I love the process of coming up with ideas.  To me, its like a big party in my head.  If you’ve ever read P.D. Eastman’s, Go, Dog. Go!  you’ll know what I mean.  Just replace the word, “dogs” with “ideas” — Big ideas, little ideas, red ideas, green ideas–well, you get the point.

For many people the brainstorming process takes them way outside their comfort zone.  They are used to going into business meetings to “brainstorm,” but then sit in the same seats they always sit in, use structure fed to them by the management team, and run with ideas presented by someone else.  They might start to say something, but more often than not, an idea not fully formed and researched is judged and shot down. Pretty soon, the room falls silent except for the droning of a bigwig’s voice.  I’m sorry, but that is NOT a brainstorming process that works for me.

Brainstorming process on paper

Brainstorming is messy…and fun!

That’s why I like creative writing.  Each day, the idea is to come up with as many new notions on your subject as possible.  Big notions like, “What if my character, who wants to be a writer, has to overcome dyslexia to do so?” Or small notions like, “what is my character’s favorite snack?” Every day the brainstorm process has you asking questions that are both silly and insightful.  You play in your journal instead of always attempting to write like Shakespeare.


One of the biggest keys to brainstorming success, I have found, is to feed your brain lots of new experiences every day before asking it to come up with something “brilliant.”  Some ways to do this include:

  • Reading — right now I have four books I’m reading, and a stack more to charge into when I’m done.  Have you joined Goodreads?  Great, fun site for readers.
  • Watching movies and television — My mom used to yell at us for sitting in front of the “boob-tube”but as she received a new television for several birthdays and Christmases in a row, I think we can ignore her concerns, at least a little bit.  Personally, I love watching the talking heads on MSNBC, then, of course, mystery shows like NCIS, Psych and old reruns of Monk or Murder, She Wrote.
  • Get out of the house — as a person who works from home, this is a very difficult thing to do, but I go to ballroom dance a couple of times a week, and take Prophet to Chatfield State Park daily, where I hear stories of other people’s lives and enjoy the interpretations and antics of lots of dogs and dog owners.  It’s amazing how this can stimulate new thinking.
  • Have conversations — Here again, do it often, but listen with a writer’s attitude.  If someone complains about their heater malfunctioning, and the landlord won’t fix it, there is instant conflict and story ideas can jump off from there.
  • Go onto the Social Media sites and browse around — People are so open with their lives and passions, there is no excuse for an unproductive brainstorm session.  As writers, our main job is to reveal the human condition.  We are indeed living in a lucky time to witness this.


After feeding your brain, and letting your experiences stew for a while, ask your creative side to perform.  Write a question at the top or in the middle of a paper or white board.  Then scribble  all the answers that pop into your head on that paper.  Don’t worry if it’s a good or bad idea–the goal is volume.  Set a timer so you don’t end with a petering off, but with the timer stopping you.  That way you’ll have the thought that “I could have gone on for hours more” instead of “Gee, I don’t have so many ideas.  Maybe I’m not creative enough.”


With the ideas all out on paper, you can scratch off what my old college professor called “moose poop” — things that were good in the moment, but don’t really work anymore. Usually what’s left when this weeding out process is done, are a bunch of solid ideas, and a few surprises.

When an idea surprises a laugh out of me, I know it’s usually quite good.  Something worth building on.  I might even do a second brainstorm session (usually no more than 5 minutes) on the subject.  Suddenly, I can hardly wait to hit my keyboard and put that new thought into play.  Watch out, Daisy.  You’re in for a new wild ride.  Heh, heh.

If you are a brainstorm loving person, what sort of processes do you use?  Can you share your thoughts here?

Happy writing, my friends, and thanks for visiting my site today.