Love in Mind: Epilogue

Congratulations: you have done it! The Asylum has come to an end, the doors are opening, and you are released. 

I hope you have enjoyed yourself today. I hope you have woven a story that has surprised and challenged you, and maybe even inspired you a little. May you carry it forward with you as you leave us today. 

If you have any feedback, let us know. Did you enjoy the story? The challenges? The extra hard challenge facets? We are always looking to make a better Asylum for our writers, so let us know what worked for you. 

Until next time the Asylum embraces you, keep writing, my friends. 

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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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Writers’ Asylum: Love in Mind: Prologue

Welcome to the Asylum. Take a seat, make yourself comfortable. The doors are closing behind you and you’re going to be here a while.

This time, we will be exploring the human heart in all its sweet, painful glory. Through five challenges, we will delve into a single story, with each challenge building upon the last. The challenges are a thousand words or an hour long each, whichever you reach first. There will also be an extra facet for each challenge, to push you even further, should you wish to take it on. 

But first, let’s talk about the world in which your story will take place. You can choose any type of world you wish, from any era, so choose something that interests you. Is it contemporary or historical? Futuristic? Set on Earth or another world entirely? Is there technology or magic? How real are gods and monsters? 

Once you have picked your world, focus in on a single place: a place where people live, love, and die. It might be a city or village; a space station or a castle. Have an idea in your mind of what sort of place this is, whether it is one of hope, or toil, or gradual disintegration. Does the sun shine? Does it rain often? Is it lit only by distant stars? 

In this place, choose a single person to focus on. This person is in their twilight years now. Think about who this person is and the path that has led to this part of their story. In a moment, we are going to take five minutes to note down some key elements about this character.

Here are some questions for you to consider when defining your character. How has this person made their living over the years? What sort of person are they, what sort of person have they chosen to be, and what kind of person does the world see them to be? What kind of morality do they hold themselves to, and have they always lived by it? Has it been easy to stay true to themselves, or have there been some hard choices along the way? Compromises? What has been the biggest learning curve they have had to journey through to get where they are today?

As they enter the twilight of their life, what kind of position does this person find themselves in? Do they have a family? A partner? Who are the people still in their life and do they have people they are estranged from now? What sort of person are they attracted to? What kind of attraction appeals to them most and how easily does it happen for them? Are they a romantic person or do they look for something different? How many people have they loved in their life so far and do they have any left to give? 

Now take five minutes to make some notes about the character. Write down as much as you can, to prepare yourself for the challenges to come. The first one starts very soon. 

Let’s get started!

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Time out of Mind: Epilogue

(New to this Asylum? Start at the beginning!)

Congratulations! You have made it through our time-twisted story and emerged from the other side, hopefully victorious. 

I hope you have had fun and created at least a little something unexpected. I would love to hear what you thought of the challenges, and the bonus challenges as well. 

For today, our challenge is done and the Asylum releases you. Go forth and be inspired! Spend your time wisely.

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Time out of Mind: Challenge #5

(New to this Asylum? Start at the beginning!)

Both teams now know there’s something strange going on with this pivotal person’s timeline. Now we have both agencies sending their teams to find the same person, to kill or to protect or simply to find out what’s going on. 

After all, it is not a simple thing to fake historical records. One of the first things that the manipulation of time did was to make historical records more reliable and enabled the agencies to be able to do thorough, accurate research. For someone to have changed those records to lay a false trail through history has a number of implications. 

More than that, it is possible that this person has changed more than their own personal history. They could also have changed the records around the pivotal moment itself, perhaps inflating its importance, or their role in it all. If history is not reliable, what can they truly believe in? 

The teams do find some breadcrumbs to follow, a hint here and a clue there, and the trail leads to a particular time and place. One team might be more efficient than the other, but thanks to time travel, they both arrive at the same moment to try to answer the same questions. 

The person in question is, in fact, there. Not only that, but they are ready for the teams’ arrival. Expected it, perhaps. 

Now is the time to decide what has really been driving all of this. What are this person’s goals? Why would they have set up such a trail, when they would have known that these agencies would send teams to meddle with the timeline? Was that their aim all along? Why is this particular place and time important? 

The trap is closing. Now it’s time to find out what it’s all about. Tell us what happens when all three parties are finally in the same place at the same time.

Bonus challenge: circles within circles. Put as many circles or circular images in as you can.

Finish up: Epilogue

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Time out of Mind: Challenge #4

(New to this Asylum? Start at the beginning!)

The first team is not pleased to arrive home from their next mission to find their work undone. They worked hard to prevent that pivotal moment. It might have been undone, but they are not to be outdone. 

It’s time for some more drastic measures. After all, this is an important occurrence; if it was worth fixing once, it’s worth doing twice.

But they’re not quite reckless enough to risk encountering themselves or the competition that clearly interfered; that’s a risky business and it’s usually best to avoid running into another version of oneself. There are lots of stories about what happens to time travellers who do this and few of them end well. You are encouraged to use your imagination to think about what these stories might entail.

So this time, the team is seeking to go further back in time to solve the problem. They are focussing on the person responsible for the pivotal moment, and locate a particular spot in that person’s life where they can interfere. Perhaps it is a near-death experience that they want to make an actual death experience. Perhaps it is a formative moment that sent the person down a certain path, which is ripe for guidance in a different direction. Think about what they might look for and what they might do to this person, within the rules set down by their agency, though this might be classified as an ‘extreme case’. 

Now that your team has a plan, send them off on their new mission to prevent the pivotal moment from happening. 

Before we run off on this new adventure, it’s worth wondering what the competition is up to. After all, the timeline must be maintained, and that means that the person and their history leading up to that moment must protected. What are the timeline protectors doing to ensure this?

There is a wrinkle, though: the person is not where the records say they should be. Whether one team or both appears, this person is absent. In fact, they might find something else instead: a decoy or perhaps a trap waiting for them.

Tell us the story of what happens when one or both of these teams goes to find the younger version of our responsible person.

Bonus challenge: the grandfather paradox. Have a member of one of the teams encounter one of their ancestors.

Go to the next challenge

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