To call Alice LaPlante an accomplished writing teacher is a bit of an understatement. Not only does this award-winning journalist teach creative writing at Stanford University and San Francisco State University, but she’s also the author of the acclaimed, bestselling writing textbook Method and Madness: The Making of a Story. And if that’s not enough, her debut novel, the literary thriller Turn of Mind, schools us with what the New York Times called “a doozy of a set up,” full of “blooming, antic poetry.” So consider yourself in expert hands with Alice’s writing prompt below!
Figment Daily Theme– May 24, 2012
Behind the Door of Room 101
“You asked me once,” O’Brien said to Winston, “what was in Room 101. I told you that you know the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.
“The worst thing in the world varies from individual to individual. It may be burial alive, or death by fire, or by drowning, or by impalement, or fifty other deaths. There are cases where it is some quite trivial thing, not fatal.”
1. Imagine what is behind the door of Room 101 for your character. It cannot be an abstraction. It must be something real, something physical that can happen to your character. (Real does not mean realistic—it can be fantastical or improbable, but it must be able to be experienced the five senses.) So not “fear” or even “fear of heights” (too abstract), but standing on the edge of a 100-story building.
The trick here is to find a fear that somehow defines your character, that isn’t common to a lot of people, but is relatively unique to him/her.
2. Now write a scene in which your character faces something that reminds him or her of the worst thing in the world. Not the thing itself, but a tangential “trigger” that brings on an exceedingly anxious reaction. Do not mention the actual “worst thing,” just describe the physical thing or event that sets off your character’s emotions, and render how he/she reacts to it.
If you’ve yet to sign up for our Daily Themes emails, you can do so now by clicking here — juicy writing prompt goodness straight to your inbox on the daily! And don’t forget to tag your responses with dailythemes for your chance to be featured on the site.