Writing Prompts and Challenges posts

Superpowered: Challenge #4

Your character has made it through their most vicious challenge. They are alive, but how well have they survived it?

What were the outcomes of their encounter with their own personal nemesis? What did they lose? What were the costs? What did they learn? Did they learn anything at all or are they refusing to acknowledge it?

It’s time for your character to come to terms with what happened. What impact does this nemesis have on your character? Is the impact immediately obvious or does it take some time for your character to realise its full effect?

What kind of effect does it have? Is it a physical consequence of the confrontation: an injury, a torn cape, a noticeable scar? Is it something internal: a shaking of confidence; a breaking of trust; a questioning of things the character previously believed in? Is it something external: did they lose a person, or a relationship, or an object dear to them? Is it a place they can never go to again? Is it a mixture of these things? 

What does it make your character do in response? Might they turn away from the path they had chosen? Hang up their cape? Throw off their anonymity? Vow to fight harder, or dirtier, or never again? Do they have to make a tough choice, and if they do, how do they work out which way to go? 

Tell us how your character comes to terms with the aftermath of facing their nemesis.

This challenge’s bonus element is: shaky ground. Include tremors and unstable footing wherever you can.

Go to the next challenge!

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Superpowered: Challenge #3

Your character has discovered their abilities and learned hopefully at least a little about how to use them, and how the world works for someone in their position. Now it’s time to shake things up.

First, think about what your character’s prime purpose is in their super-powered life, now that they understand how the world is set up for them. Have they decided to be a hero? Been inducted into the villainous ranks? Decided to try for independence? Are they trying to hide their abilities?

Now let’s have it go horribly wrong. It’s time for your character to come up against a true challenge, one with real danger and real consequences. Now you get to throw a nemesis at them.

What makes a good nemesis for your character? Is it a person: a supervillain coming to bring them down; a hero to foil their plans; a competitor trying to make them look bad? Or perhaps someone higher in the ranks determined to keep them low on the ladder? 

Or is their nemesis something else? Something that plays on a weakness their power brings them? Anxiety or doubt that cripples their ability to act effectively? An internal voice that ruins everything? Is it something out of anyone’s control, like a change in the weather? Is it a truth they never knew before, one that threatens to change everything?

The stakes are high and the nemesis turns up at the worst possible moment to make things go horribly wrong. What is your character trying to do when this happens? What are they trying to achieve? When things start to go wrong, what is at risk? And things are about to go very, very wrong.

Tell us the story of your character’s encounter with their nemesis in this moment of crisis. 

The bonus element this time is: walls. Include as many barriers as you can, from real to figurative to metaphorical. 

Go to the next challenge!

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Superpowered: Challenge #2

You know how your character came to learn about themself and what they can do. Now let’s talk about their next steps. Let’s give them a mentor, someone to show them the lay of the land in this superpowered world of yours.

Consider who this mentor might be. How does your character end up with this particular person as their teacher? Is this person well-suited to the role, or have they wound up in it for another reason? Is it chance or design? What sort of person is this character and how much is either party invested in this new relationship?

What kind of guidance can they offer to your character? Do they have powers themself, or have they had powers in the past? Are they giving advice from outside the super-powered community? Were they a hero, or villain, or something else? Are they still, or have they moved into a different position now? 

What are the goals of this mentorship? Is it focussed on the character’s abilities: learning tactics and techniques, establishing control, or suppressing them entirely? Is it learning about how to be super-powered in the world at large? Is it how to hide and fly under the radar, or how to fly high and proud in a cape? Or is it about learning who to fight, rather than how?

How willing or eager is your character as they enter into this mentor-mentee relationship? Are they keen to learn, scared of what is unrolling before them, or sick of everything it entails? What are the key lessons this person needs to learn, and does anyone recognise what they are?

A problem is arising close to your character and, willing or otherwise, they are the person who must tackle it. Perhaps no-one knows this yet, but your character is about to be tested. Time is not endless. 

Show us this mentorship in action. Show us how your character prepares for this upcoming challenge, and how prepared they are when it arrives.

You bonus element for this challenge is: the empty cup. Include as many references to a cup, being too full, overflowing, and emptiness as you can.

Go to the next challenge!

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Superpowered: Challenge #1

For our first challenge, we’re going to write our characters’ origin story. You know who this person is and what they can do; let’s focus in on that moment when they discovered they had superhuman abilities. 

Did it happen all at once? Was it a gradual process? Were they warned ahead of time what to expect or left to their own devices to figure it out? What were the first signs? What were their first assumptions about what was happening to them?

How did they go about figuring out what they can do? What was it like to control it, if they could exercise any control? Did they tell anyone or try to keep it to themself? What was their understanding of what this might mean for them and their life? Now is the time to find out. 

Tell the story of this self-discovery. Explore how your character found out about what they can do, and all the possibilities that opened up to them… or were shut off. Focus on the time before they spoke to someone higher in authority or experience than them about it.

Your bonus element for this challenge is: blossoming. Include as many flower or opening images as possible.

Go to the next challenge!

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Writers’ Asylum: Superpowered: Prologue

Girl with afro playing superhero
Image by rawpixel.com

Welcome to the Asylum! It’s time to close the doors, settle into your seat, and get ready to don a cape. I hope you’re all refreshed and ready to go.

Today, we’re exploring the realm of superpowers. Through a series of five challenges, we’ll be working through the story of a single character. Each challenge will be an hour long or up to a thousand words, whichever you reach first. Each challenge will also have a bonus element, for those looking for an extra way to push themselves. There are scheduled breaks between challenges for refreshments and lunch, so don’t worry, you won’t have to be superhuman to get through today. The only caveat in these challenges is that your main character must survive to the last challenge

First of all, let’s figure out who we’re each writing about today. In a moment, you’ll have the opportunity to make some notes before the first challenge begins. Let’s start with some prompts for you.

The world we’re writing in has superpowers. Some might use them for good, some for personal gain, some for more nefarious purposes, and maybe some for all of the above. Take a moment to think about how your world handles these people. Are they accepted? Regulated? Reviled? Do they work within the law, outside of it, or above it? Are they out and proud, or forced to live in secret, or somewhere in between? Are superpowers just a part of everyday life? How common are they?

Next, let’s consider where these superpowers come from. Is there a scientific reason for their occurrence? Is it natural or manmade? Magical, religious, or mystical? Technological? Accidental? Alien or otherworldy? How does someone get these abilities, and at what point in their life? Is there only one way, one path, or many? 

Now think about one person who has superpowers. Give them a name and decide how and where they grew up. Family, or none? How did they do at school and what were their aspirations? Was their life ever ‘normal’? Where does their moral compass tend to point them?

What abilities does this person have? Is it an expression of the type of person they are, or counter to it? What are the limits of this ability or set of abilities? What can this person not do? What are the downsides to this ability, and does it come with any specific weaknesses? How does it complicate their everyday life?

Take a moment to make a few notes about who this person is and what they can do. The first challenge starts in just a few minutes. 

Let’s get started!

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Love in Mind: Challenge #5

In our last challenge, let’s talk about the end of things. Nothing lasts forever and even the most perfect pairing ends, one way or another. 

You might already know how your couple is finally parted. Take a moment now to nail down the details. What is it that pulls them apart? Is it death – theirs or someone else’s? Another person? Circumstances? A secret or act that can’t be forgiven? Was it the wrinkle you already wrote about or something completely different? Did they simply grow apart and aren’t suited to each other any more? 

Once they have parted, consider what is left behind. Does one or both of them survive? Go on to do other things or gets stuck in the aftermath? For each of them: is there anything next and if so, what might it be?

What about what they achieved or created while they were together? Did they have children, their own or adopted or otherwise? Did they create a business, or a new technology, or discover a new spell? Set a new record? Did they build a house or a space ship, or design a new kind of AI together? What did they create in the time they were together that might outlive their relationship? Was it magnificent or mundane?

Was their relationship not suited to that kind of creation? Was it too short, or destructive, or private? Was what they left behind known only to a few? Was it stories, or legends, or photographs tucked away in an old tin, hidden under the floorboards? Was it a lesson or a promise that helped to shape a life?

For this challenge, write about the legacy their relationship left behind. Truth, lies, or legend, tell us what outlived their love.

Your extra challenge for this one is: raining. Saturate this tale with blue and falling water, show us what washes away and what is left behind. 

Finishing up

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Love in Mind: Challenge #4

We have seen our lovers get intimate and in crisis. Now let’s take a lighter view of their time together: let’s explore their perfect date. 

Think about what a good time together is for them. Spending time with each other, in or outside of home, quietly private or out in public. It can be something romantic, wildly demonstrative, low-key, exciting, or all of these things. What is a great time together for these two particular people? Hearts and flowers? Rollercoasters and fairy floss? A night at the theatre or Netflix and chill?

Is there ever room in their story for a time like this? If there isn’t, what would it look like? Maybe they never got to enjoy a perfect date, but if they did, what would it be?

For this challenge, write about one of these perfect dates for your pair. A time when they are free of angst, set their worries aside, and simply enjoy being with each other. Indulge in the sweetness of it, in warmth and comfort, in something going so right that it might head right into being saccharine. Revel in it and let them enjoy it. 

Your extra challenge this time is: the scent of love. Put in as many olfactory details as possible; nail this memory for your pair down by telling us all about how everything smells.

Go to the next challenge

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Love in Mind: Challenge #3

Your two characters have come together, but no story is totally smooth. Now it’s time to introduce a wrinkle to their tale, something to trip them up or maybe even tear them apart, never to truly stand together again.

This threat to their relationship might appear at any time in this pair’s story, may even have been there since they first met. It can be before or after their intimate moment; it’s up to you. It can be something they manage to overcome, or not.

Consider what such a crisis point might be. What threatens to tear these two people apart? Is it an object that causes the trouble? Something from the past that comes up to cause problems in the present? A secret or an uncomfortable truth? Is it a person who gets between them? A temptation or a betrayal? A set of circumstances that force a difficult choice? Competing loyalties or loves?

Your challenge is to tell us about the crisis in this story of two lovers. 

The extra challenge this time is: rose-tinted juxtaposition. Use as many romantic images or cliches as possible.

Go to the next challenge

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Love in Mind: Challenge #2

Your character has met the love of their life. Whether their first meeting went well or disastrously, they know each other now. That’s not the end of their story, however; they are destined for more to come.

This time, let’s take a dive into how close these two people become. Choose a place in their story where they are coming together and getting to know one another. It’s time for them to strip naked and expose themselves, to thoroughly explore each other. It’s time for a moment of true intimacy. 

Intimacy means different things to different people. Explore the type that is important to these two people. It might be sex, or spirituality, or true honesty, a meeting of hearts or minds or bodies, or all of the above. 

How long has it taken for them to reach this point? A few minutes after meeting? Hours? Weeks? Five dates? Several years? What barriers have each of them had to overcome or let down to get here? What happened on this day to push them into intimacy? Was it something exciting, or sad, or delightful, or incidental, or nothing at all they could put their finger on?

Your challenge is to write out this moment of intimacy, in as much detail as you can. 

The extra challenge for this one is: euphemistic. Use as many euphemisms and genitalia synonyms as you can.

Go to the next challenge 

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Love in Mind: Challenge #1

You have an idea of who your main character is and where they are as they enter the latter years of their life. Now we’re going to consider this person’s major love interest. The type of person who is their one true love, The One, the kind of partner who comes along once in a lifetime. 

Think about who this love interest is. What makes them so perfect for your character? What makes them fit, what about them speaks to your character? Give this love interest a name. What do they do with their time: do they make a living, study, or have other vocations and interests? What do they aspire to?

At what point in your character’s life does this person arrive? It can be at any point you wish, past or future. Is the chemistry immediately obvious when they meet or does it take some time to come into focus? Are either of them looking for love or is this a serendipitous meeting? Are both of them free at the time to pursue a new relationship or is their story more complicated?

Now think about how these two people met. Set the scene in your mind. Where does it happen? At what time of day? On purpose, by someone’s design, or by accident? What was each of them doing leading up to this meeting? What is their initial reaction to each other?

Tell us the story of this first, fateful meeting. The only rule you have to follow is that neither of them is allowed to die just yet. This is the start of their story.

Your extra challenge for this one is: singing. Put as many songs or singing into the piece as you can.

Go to the next challenge

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