Came up with a fun assignment for my intro-to-fiction class today, that I think went pretty well. Good if you’re stuck on what to write:
Assignment: Ripped From the Headlines!
1) Join a small group in breakout room (aim for about 3-4 people / group)
2) Jointly pick a publication with an online website and take 10 minutes to read through the headlines and the beginning of each story — I recommend leaning towards news sites like CNN or Washington Post, but you could also do subject matter publications if you have a strong interest, like a science magazine, sports magazine, textile arts magazine, etc. You’re looking for publications that present nonfiction primarily — articles, essays.
3) Each of you should then generate one story idea, based on something you read in the publication. For example, I read an article about Syrian refugees — I wrote a story about refugees on another planet, who are trying to get past telepathic border control agents. Ideally, you don’t just duplicate what’s in the article, but you add something to it, your own twist. You might try merging two articles together!
4) At 2:20, come back to the main chat and post your story idea in the chat. Then spend 15 minutes writing a few paragraphs of the story — it can be narration, dialogue, etc. Whatever excites you.
5) At 2:35, go back into your breakout room, and read at least a paragraph of what you’ve written aloud to your classmates — we’re also using this exercise to practice read aloud skills, which will be important if you go on to publish professionally.
6) At 2:45, come back to the main room for wrap-up and dismissal.
(Graphic borrowed from the Ripped From the Headlines podcast, which I know nothing about…)