Expect the Unexpected

“The best things in life happen unexpectedly.

The best stories begin with, ‘and all of a sudden …’. The best adventures were never planned as they turned out to be. Free yourself from expectations. The best will come when and from where you least expect it.” – Author Unknown.

Has anything ever turned out the exact opposite of what you had so carefully planned? Of course it has! Perhaps at the time your immediate reaction was, “This is the most mind-numbingly terrible thing imaginable!” In retrospect, though, your assessment often changes. The job you thought you really, really wanted pales in comparison to a dream opportunity that delivers everything you could ever have wished for. The prom date who broke your heart is soon replaced by someone new who puts you on a pedestal. And those family vacations where anything and everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong? How quickly they become the stuff of silly stories you’ll recount for years to come.

This month’s exercises are story-starters that will stretch your imagination in the game of “what if?” What happens when something that seemed like a fairly straightforward outcome turns into something entirely different? For each of these plot generators, consider the following:

• What genre is the best fit for this story to unfold?
• Who is the hero? Who is the villain?
• Should it be a feature-length screenplay or a film short?
• What role will the physical setting play in advancing the plot?
• What is at stake that will compel your character(s) to take risks?
• How will s/he grow as a result of experiencing something totally unexpected?
• How will the story be resolved in a satisfying manner for your audience?

*********************************************village 325

No Forwarding Address

A housesitting job in a foreign country turns into something much more serious … and dangerous. S/he goes to the leasing agent and learns that the owners of the house have been dead for 10 years.

Ice 325*********************************************

Friendship On Thin Ice

A pair of ice skaters that have trained together since childhood assume they’ll be going to the upcoming Winter Olympics as a fabulous skate-dancing team…until s/he is teamed up with someone else.

*********************************************writer 325

“Not Right For Us At This Time”

An aspiring screenwriter receives her/his first rejection letter and decides that a confrontation is in order. The producer turns out to be the last person s/he expected to be in charge.

Urban 325*********************************************

Fancy Seeing You There

The window dresser at a department store becomes fascinated with someone s/he observes every evening in the apartment building across the street. One night, a visitor to the apartment is someone the window dresser recognizes.

*********************************************Boa 325

The Photo-Bomb

Your main character takes a selfie and is astonished to see what is revealed in the background.

Guy 325*********************************************

I Could Really Use Your Advice

Your protagonist is watching his/her favorite TV show. One of its characters is suddenly faced with an agonizing choice and decides to make a phone call and ask for help. Your protagonist’s cell phone rings; the caller is the fictitious character on-screen.


ChristinaHamlettAs part of my ongoing commitment to supply great lesson plans for today’s classrooms, I always enjoy getting feedback on how the material is used and what kind of new content you’d like to see in future columns. I’m also happy to answer any questions related to specific problems your students may be struggling with. Just drop me a note at  or through my website at http://www.authorhamlett.com.

Former actress/director Christina Hamlett is an award winning author, professional script consultant, and ghostwriter. Her credits to date include 31 books, 157 plays for young actors, and 5 optioned feature films.