Two Writing Prompts For the Outdoors (Or Inside)

The weather is really nice down here in Phoenix today, which inspired me to dream up a couple of prompts designed to take advantage of the outdoors. (I have also included modifications for unpleasant weather).

1. Go to a public place. This can be a park,  the patio of your favorite coffee shop, even your own front porch, basically anywhere you see people passing by. If it’s yucky out the mall or the inside of a busy restaurant will work. Watch the crowd until an individual or small group catches your eye. Where did they come from? Where are they going to? Why? Your first impulses are going to be things like “She came from home. She’s going to work.” Discard these first thoughts and keep digging. Don’t assume that the girl in scrubs works in the health care industry, that the woman shepherding a pair of tots is their mother, that the teenagers holding hands are dating one another. Reject the everyday and dig deeper. Take the stranger in front of you and transform them into someone else.

2. Go sit outside. If it’s raining or snowing too hard to bring a notepad outside, go stand under a porch or awning, or lacking that, go sit in your car with the door open, so you get a good taste of the misery. Rain or shine, you want to be able to really feel it on your skin. Describe the weather in detail-  as well as the season and your general location. Remember that even though your location is mundane to you, it is exotic to everyone else in the world, so do it justice. Write about how your setting, the wind, the rain, the sunshine, feels physically as well as emotionally. Take your time with it, explore new connections, free associate metaphors. Now go back to your work in progress and note when your protagonist is outside. Do the setting scenes feel real or rushed and flat? You know what to do.