Last week I offered you a list of religious myths to discuss. This week we are going to take a poke at religion itself. Quite a few religious holidays congregate in this month so I figure since it’s on our minds anyway, why not try to put our thoughts into words. I’m going to mix it up a little bit and offer both fiction and nonfiction prompts. The most important part of this exercise is to remember that it is an exercise and to have fun.
1. In today’s world, many businesses are run by religious people based on their religious beliefs. Discuss the various dynamics an atheist would encounter running a company based on their beliefs.
2. Is religion good for society? Or is society best served by ridding itself of its influence?
3. Is morality possible without religion? Why or why not?
4. What do you think of religious figures getting up in arms over the movie The Golden Compass? Do you think there is any truth to their claims that this movie is trying to convert children to Atheism?
5. Has the holiday you celebrate retained its meaning throughout the years or has it been corrupted by commercial influences? Fiction
6. Make up your own religion.
7. A character makes a discovery that goes against the accepted “truths” of their belief system. Your character is a faithful adherent to their belief system and was actually trying to validate that particular belief.
8. A character lives in the inverse of the United States where 70% claim to be atheists with the other 30% being ridiculed and discriminated against for their belief in god.
9. A character tries to make up their own religion and pass it off to their boss in order to get a day off of work.
10. Bring a folktale/religious myth to the twenty first century by rewriting it using current day references.
Some time go, I completed an erotic flash story to warm up my brain for completing my other writing projects. It turned out pretty good but of course I’m biased. The story has to do with a wife who catches her husband cheating but instead of going all nutzoid, she accepts the situation in a ‘glad it’s her and not me’ kind of dismissal.
People accept what society deems as unacceptable all the time. Threesomes, orgies, serial partners and even Polygamy. All anathemas to our country’s focus on Christian monogamy.
Today’s writing prompts:
1- Describe a situation in which your character may consider including another person in their relationship.
2- Write the dialogue between two partners where one is trying to convince the other to attend an orgy. Write it from each perspective.
3- Describe a scene where a partner catches the other cheating but accepts it and/or maybe even joins in.
4- Burst the stereotype that women who have multiple partners are whores.
5- Take us to a wedding where a man (or woman) marries a second spouse with the other looking on.
I have many weaknesses as a writer, one of which includes writing about settings. I get so involved in what the characters are doing that I completely forget about where they are doing it. Unless the setting is inexplicably weaved in with the plot it doesn’t even cross my mind. Where your characters are can, sometimes, be more important to what they are doing.
Today’s writing prompts:
1- Let’s start with the obvious. Describe where the sex scene happens.
2- Describe the characters living quarters. What does it say about them? An obsessive/compulsive may live in a apartment full of boxy and straight back furniture. No rounded corners in sight.
3- Describe the world you characters live in. This is can be the physical world (i.e. Earth) or their emotional world (i.e. the feeling of repression). A person’s cubical at the office can be used a metaphor for their feelings of being caged in.
4- What is the weather like in your story?
I just love the British. They have such an interesting way with words. Wanking is the English slang for masturbation. Therefore a Wanker is either one who masturbates, a complete asshole or both.
Masturbation is probably the safest sex a person can have. You can’t give yourself a disease, can’t get anyone pregnant or become pregnant, it’s portable (all you need is a hand, not neccessarily your own) and a vivid imagination.
The most common form of masturbation is of course by manual stimulation with the hand. The use of sex toys is also common as well as shower heads and, of course, the mind.
Today’s writing prompt:
1. How often does your character masturbate? What is their favorite method? Who or what do they think about?
2. What is the weirdest place they’ve ever done it or is your character more of a behind closed doors, deep under the covers type of person?
3. What type of toys do they use? For women, there are small vibrators that one can wear tucked into one’s panties. Is your female character bold enough to wear one in public?
Have they ever been caught? By who? Did it scar them for life or liberate them?
Work sucks! I’d much rather be home reading, writing, watching television, playing a game or any number of things than having customers verbally abuse me for pennies on the dollar. But things cost money and since I don’t have the kahonas to engage in a life of crime (yet) I have to resort to corporate prostitution to cover my day to day expenses.
Today’s writing prompt:
1. How does your character take care of his survival expenses? Do they work or mooch off of others?
2. Do they like their job? Why or why not? How did they get it? Do they plan to stay or move on? Do they pine for the president’s chair or are they content to stay where they are?
What is their relationship like with their co-workers? What is the working environment like? How does it affect them?
3. Did they start their own company? If not, have they thought about it?
4. What kind of business is it? Why this type of company or industry? Did they choose out of love, money, both or neither? Some people have the family business foisted onto them and work it out of familial obligations.
5. A high percentage of couples meet on the job. Think about it. That’s where a person spends the majority of their time.
6. Is there anyone on their job that they are interested in? Why or why not?
7. Did or do they have a relationship with a co-worker or even a supervisor? How is that working out for them? Is the relationship based on love or ambition?
8. Did they call it quits with someone they work with? How’s that working out for them? Perhaps they were forced to move to another department or quit entirely. Or after they got what they wanted (promotion, better office) the lover is abandoned at the bottom of the corporate ladder.
Life is not easy nor do I believe it should be. It is the challenges in life that mold us, help us to become the characters we are today. Likewise boring characters are the ones who have perfect lives.
Society presents us with many obstacles to overcome. Some time ago a man shots up a bar that catered to homosexuals. To me, it is clear this was a hate crime. Either that or he went in there and found his lover dancing with some other guy and chose a self destructive means of dealing with his anger.
This brings to fore the reality that our characters don’t live in vacuums. The society they exist in have social mores and customs that either benefit them or are detrimental to their existence.
Today’s assignment is to identify how your character fits (or doesn’t fit) in the society you have created for them.
1. Are they apart of the majority or the minority? How does this affect their outlook on life? Their relationships with others?
2. Is there a specific reason the world characterizes it’s inhabitants in the manner they do? What is accepted/discouraged in the world you have created? Does your character agree or disagree? Why?
3. How does your character react to people who are different from them? Do they subscribe to a stereotypical thoughts about those that are different? Does their thinking change having cross paths with those they previously had no interaction with?
4. If they tend toward anti-social characteristics such as racism and homophobia, what has brought them to that conclusion? Is it the result of previous negative relationships? Did they live in an environment that encouraged that thinking? What would it take for them to change their mind?
5. If your character is the victim of anti-social behavior, how do they handle such attacks? Have they developed anti-social characteristics in response? Do they forgive all?
Fodder for character development can be found in our fellow human beings. Like for instance, there is a woman at my job who’s voice grates against my nerves like steel scraping against steel and she likes to talk…a lot. She also likes to ask a lot of questions with obvious answers like, “Do you know how to type?” when I’m speeding away at 50wpm without looking at the keyboard.
The girl isn’t all bad. She does have some good traits but eight hours of the two listed above is enough to make me want to bowl with her head. So today’s writing prompt is all about annoying characters.
What makes an annoying character? It is their persistance, knowingly or not, in doing the things another character finds obnoxious. Reread that sentence another time. Why? Because while I might think my co-worker sounds like two cats going at it in an alleyway, her boyfriend may think she has the voice of an angel. It’s all about perspective.
My father worked with a germaphobe once. Everyday he smoked everyone out of the office with the obsessive/compulsive spritzing of Lysol Disinfectant Spray all around his desk. He shares a baby wipe fetish with Monk. My father and co-workers found this to be obnoxious to the extreme but to the poor guy at the center of attention this daily ritual is the difference between life or death.
1-Try to create the most annoying character you can think of. Put them in the midst of characters likely to be just as offended as you and see what happens. Or better yet, put the character in a room full of others just like them. Does the character feel at home? Or does it become a competition as to who can be the most annoying?
2-Think about your hero’s likes and dislikes. How can you use this information to get the antagonist under their skin?
3-Look around at your fellow human beings. What are some annoying they do that you can incorporate into your characters to help bring them to life and make them believable?
4-What are some qualities about yourself that others find annoying? Think about what issues other people may have that makes your traits drive them up the wall. How did they come across these particular quirks?