• Jessica Sherry

Story Prompts: What's Broken?


Recently, our microwave kicked it. It was done. It wasn't popping the corn, warming the oatmeal, or defrosting the meat. Done. Like good little homeowners, we reached out for a repair man. The $1200 nice-name brand microwave that came with our house wasn’t just broke, but hella broke. Three parts needed replacing. Our microwave wasn’t worth the cost to fix it.


“It’s not just broke. It’s hella broke.” ~ Me, about my microwave, now my dish washer, and sometimes about other stuff, too (myself included)

There’s always something that needs fixing, and not just finicky appliances. For me, I’ve been hit with chips in my parenting, dents in my self-esteem, and the residual breaks of sadness that have worn me out lately. I’m not hella broke in an all-consuming way, but parts of me are in pieces, leaving me weary and searching desperately for Super Glue. Or Gorilla Glue. Duct tape. Or something that I can use to pull everything back together again. I am Humpty Dumpty, lying in pieces.

Being hella broke is a human absolute. We'll all experience our Humpty Dumpty moments. So should your characters. When inventing the interesting, complicated, beautiful people that'll crank your storylines into forward motion, it helps to understand:

  • First, how they've been broken before, and what it takes for them to be hella broke.

  • Second, how you're going to mastermind pushing them off the ledge.

  • Third, how to put them back together again.


If you can answer those questions about your MC, you've not only solidified his internal conflicts, but you could have the outline for your entire plot.


Don't let breaks in your confidence keep you from sharing your great ideas--either in your stories or on this blog! Looking for more ideas? Check out my caffeine-infused brainstorming at www.coffeebrained.com.

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