Day 25: Mapping Out Writing Time: When the Familiar Becomes Not So

“Mom, are you sure we’re going the right way?”

With this one question, a new Write-a-Scene topic was born. Thank you, Wonder Girl.

We were driving on a narrow road, one of the many quiet streets connecting one town to another. I’ve driven this way countless times, and yet, Wonder Girl’s question made me wonder whether I took the wrong road.

I looked at our surroundings and all I could see was snow. A foot of snow covered everything around us. Gone was the golf course, the small pile of rocks, the dirt path. Fences, bushes, and trees all started to look the same with the snow. And the houses, now cloaked in snow, could have been any house, every house, the exact same house. It took a few minutes to know for certain I knew where I was driving.

This situation made me realize how the familiar can become unfamiliar when something new is added to the mix. All it took was Wonder Girl’s question and some snow to make me see differently. What if we added more layers–freezing temperatures, 40-mile winds, blinding snow? Now we’ve got a blizzard and people can get lost in these conditions, even if they’re close to home.

Write-a-Scene Writing Prompt: Rock your MC’s world and add layers to the familiar to skew the view. This is a good thing to apply to a good portion of our manuscripts.

Write a scene where your protagonist finds the safety and certainty of the familiar changed–whether for good or bad. Use your imagination. Fiddle around with the setting, change the behavior of the best friend/boyfriend/girlfriend, add conflict to the family or ease up the school routine. Remember, writing is all about adding layers. Have a good writing day!

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Vivian Lee Mahoney

Consider yourself warned: I write books about rebels. I'm also a postergirlz for readergirlz, a literary advisory group for teens. Who knew going back to the teenage years would be so rewarding?

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