Let’s try something a little different this time. So this is based off an oldie but a goodie: ‘Corrupt a wish’ (for those of you who are unaware of the game it involves one person making a wish, and the next person ruining it. E.g. ‘I wish I could swim like a fish’ – ‘okay, but you live in mud’.)
For this exercise you need a couple of characters; it works best as banter. (Technically, you don’t need two characters, but this exercise is also about interaction).
1. One of your two characters makes a wish (blowing out birthday cake candle, a well, on a star, fäery godmother…), and then the next character derails it. (And if your character wouldn’t do that, then just pick something they hope for. And if they have no hope, ambition, or anything they want, pick a character who does!)
Pick three wishes per character and make a note of them.
2. Take the wish that is most corrupted (or interests you most) and write a short 500 scene. If one wish isn’t enough, use all of them. Set it in an every day (or something that interests you) scenario – like taking a walk to the shop.
3. Write a scene where everything goes right, and the character gets exactly what they wished for – just not in the way they hoped.
Taking it Further
Write a three page story where everyday life just goes wrong for your character. A day in the life – that is ruined.
If you’re having trouble with this, remember the point of the exercise is a) to have fun, and b) to creatively explore different ways of allowing your character to obtain what they want, but not necessarily in the way they want, or it has an effect that isn’t what they hoped for.
An example of this, (a very loose example) could be Sherlock Holmes. He’s smart, and he wants to solve mysteries. The price is it isolates him from pretty much everyone – and he realises that he needs Watson, because smarts alone aren’t really enough/what he truly needs.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be dark or sombre either: maybe your kid protagonist has been wanting ice-cream in forever, only to find that it’s his/her sister’s favourite flavour and not the strawberry he/she was hoping for!
How does your character react?
As always, I’d love to hear from you!