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Monday, August 6, 2012

Writing Prod - Product Placement

            Another week is under way. I can hardly believe that my children are headed back to school this week. Where does the time go?
            While the back to school shopping is fresh on my mind I decided to pick from the handful of prompts that have not already been discussed that best related to this process. What I decided on was an interesting prod that I call . . .Product Placement. 
            A warning is probably in order. I expect this to be a difficult prompt. However, it does incorporate a writing concept that I have successfully used in a couple of my stories and one that my good friend, Paul Brown, uses in all of his screenplays.
            For the prompt, pick a product you can buy in a store, or online, and then turn it into an object that symbolizes an important theme/message. Make it the centerpiece of your story. I don’t necessarily mean that you should have a story where the people are questing for a magic amulet. Take a close look at Lord of the Flies. The conch shell that Ralph finds at the beginning of the story holds metaphorical significance. It represents the society the boys create on the island where they have crashed. I believe that Piggy’s glasses are an object of importance to the story. Think about what they represent and what it means when the savage boys take the glasses from Piggy.
            I find that I am able to add an extra layer of depth to my stories when I choose to include objects that have a metaphorical significance. Even if the readers don’t catch on to exactly what they represent my writing has been improved because I have spent more time pondering the themes associated with it. Often times, this process allows me to think of plot twists, scenes, and character traits that I wouldn’t have if I had chosen not to use this method as part of my writing toolbox.
            Here is my example for today:

            World A-Whirl

            When Jack’s parents start fighting over what to do with him, he decides it’s time to take off and see the world. He fills his trusty back-pack, convinces a friend of a friend to forge a fake ID for him, and then hops on a passenger ship for points unknown.
            The unfettered life agrees with Jack’s disposition – until he finds that a strange laptop has been stashed in his pack. Before he can boot it up and find out who it belongs to a trio of gun-wielding, sunglass wearing goons come after him. And just getting the laptop isn’t enough, they want him dead.
            Jack jumps ship when it docks in South America and heads for the American Embassy there, but is intercepted by hot looking chick that invites him to have a drink with her. After a flirtatious good-bye, Jack discovers that his backpack is gone, along with his fake ID. If he wants to get back home alive, he’ll have to get both of them back and deliver the computer to someone who can get him out of this jam.

(Just as a note: my initial concept was to use the backpack as the centerpiece for the story. Once I decide what it represents, I can develop several scenes around that theme. However, the fake ID and the laptop also can be used to enrich the depth of the story.)



  1. Did you ever read the famous short story "The Things They Carried" (I think that's the title)? That probably has a lot of metaphorical significance about objects.

    1. I am not familiar with that story. Probably would be a good read for me though. Thanks for mentioning it.

    2. The Things They Carried is worth a read at any time for any reason - amazing book!

  2. You are a really great writer, Randy. I don't think I could weave stories from these prompts the way you do. Good job. :)

  3. Thank you for the kind words. My mind does wander in strange places. That's for sure.

  4. Another great idea, Randy - both the prompt and your pitch! Definitely something to think about while writing.

    1. I was worried it was on the weak side. Thanks for the uplifting words. :)