Start With Five Characters and Move to Four

Start a story with five characters: two males, two females, and an animal. It can be siblings in any combination with a cat, lovers of any sexual preference with a dog, or any sort of relationship of any kind with any animal, bonded by blood, domestication, or otherwise. Give yourself fifteen-to-twenty minutes to free-write the beginning of a story in which one pair of people wants something from the other pair. The role of the animal is up you.

Once time is up, you'll have to eliminate one of the characters as soon as possible. He or she can die, be kidnapped, walk away, or anything else that gets him/her gone, but that character must to be removed in a timely and (somewhat) reasonable manner. Within another fifteen to twenty minutes, that character must be physically out of the story.

From Four Characters to Three (and So Forth)

The process of removing characters should continue until no characters remain (including the animal). With the final allotment of time,you should describe the final, character-less scene. To “beat the clock” in this exercise, you are going to need to think fast and write even faster. Using this stream-of-consciousness flow to your advantage, you can tap into previously untouched areas of creativity.

Eliminating characters works to propel the action because instead of getting bogged down with how a character feels or details of the scenery, you'll constantly not just think of how you're going to get rid of a character, but you'll work toward getting rid of all the characters. Description is important, but too much can make for a convoluted pathway through the story.

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