this fictionette proceeded from a sinister game of mad libs
- 1,149 words (if poetry, lines) long
Oh my goodness, two on-time fictionettes in a row. It's like she's finally got her act together, folks. And here it is: "Ill Met by Moonlight," a Friday Fictionette whose title aptly demonstrates the value of serif fonts. It's about long nights spent talking to yourself and being startled when something answers back.
As I mention in the author's note, the original freewriting session resulted not so much in a plot as a plot template. I used for writing prompts the two words assigned to the morning and evening "dashes" over at Virtual Writers' World; for June 12 they were "blench" and "angle". I had no idea what to do with that. Also, I was terribly distracted. That was the Friday I spent in the car driving to Lincoln, Nebraska for a roller derby bout on Saturday, and the car was full of people being fascinating and entertaining pretty much nonstop.
But I tried! I took the two words and I recast them and I made a sentence: "He looked at it from a different angle, and went pale with horror at what he saw." I mistook "blench" for "blanch" there. I'd have looked up the definition online via John's smartphone's wifi tether, but we were passing through a dead zone at the time. If you like, you can rewrite the sentence to say "flinched with horror" and get the same results.
After a few minutes I got frustrated with just staring at the screen and/or rephrasing the basic premise ("Main character discovers the horrific underbelly of his daily life! Which will never be the same again!") and gave myself an assignment that would force me to get specific. You may of course borrow this assignment for your own use, should it look useful.
Basically, the assignment was to make four arbitrary decisions. Decide on the REALM, REALITY, FACADE, and METHOD involved.
REALM: In other words, the context in which the character makes a discovery. I mentally flipped a coin/rolled some dice/threw a dart and got "Corporate office."
REALITY: What's the secret the character discovers? What's the true nature of reality that they've hitherto been been unaware of? "The corporation is sitting on an exclusive trading gateway with Faerie."
FACADE: What's the nature of the deception? How is the REALITY covered up from everyday eyes? "Import of cheap goods for distribution to dollar stores."
METHOD: Whereas REALITY was the secret fact about the character's world, METHOD is the action being taken which is premised upon that reality. So. Given a corporation secretly sitting on a gateway to Faerie for economic exploit, how does that corporation in fact exploit their exclusive access? "Smuggling magic items into our world, and into particular pairs of hands, via dollar store distribution."
Thus the "plot template" got filled out with a viable story idea. Finally.
Depending on your plot template, you may pick different key words. But the point is to identify the key decisions you're holding back from making, and then darn well make them.
Remember, writing fiction is about making arbitrary decisions. There are no wrong decisions, except for the decision not to decide. Every decision moves you closer to the story you're going to write. Ta-da.