There once was a writing challenge that became a book. Back in the early 1990s, this book landed in my hands. It was “The Wedding Cake in the Middle of the Road.” Each author was challenged to work that image into a short story in some way. If you can find a copy, give it a read.
I think the compelling aspect of this challenge is the clash between object (the wedding cake) and location (middle of the road). Putting them together in a scene surely spells out calamity. It’s something of a surprise to see how each author handled the mission in vastly different ways.
I thought it might be fun to pose a similar challenge to you. The wedding cake challenge presented something lovely and carefully crafted into a place it does not belong. Perhaps equally compelling might be something awful in a lovely place?
Here are some options with the “nice” thing in a bad place AND the “bad” thing in a nice place. I couldn’t decide on just one. Disclaimer: I know “nice” and “bad” are totally subjective, but I wanted to pose relatable objects.
Pick one of these to fit into your story:
- The iphone in the fountain.
- The spider at the makeup counter.
- The stilettos in the subway.
- The rotten potato in the baptismal font.
Or if you really want a challenge, put them all in your story!
If you are ever in a workshop or classroom setting, it can be interesting to have the students each write down two or three objects on slips of paper, as well as two or three places. Encourage creativity! Put the slips in two different grab bags, and then have each student draw one object and one place from each bag. I think I did a version of this once before in a class, and I got “the smelly sweatsocks in the refrigerator.”
At any rate, I hope one or more of these options inspires an idea and gets your writing going!
Let me know how it goes!