Fiction Toolbox

Story Brainstorming - Character Work - Writing Prompts

Story Starter: Sundown

This is a story starter. Simply take what’s here and finish the story.

Remember, you can change the names or any elements you like to make the story uniquely yours. The purpose of a story starter is to get you writing by finishing something that already has an opening.

You can take this anywhere you’d like. Perhaps it’s a Sci-Fi, or a Thriller, or even a Horror story. You decide and go with it.

Sundown was approaching. The town’s people hurried along, scampering to their homes, locking doors behind them. The darkness came swiftly. No one dared to stay on the streets or venture out past the hour of doom. It had been like this for as long as the people could remember. They rarely spoke of it, as if speaking of it was an omen in itself. They all knew of the horrors their grandparents had lived through to tell the tales.

Jerry climbed down the steep steps into his basement, too afraid to even stay upstairs in the comfort of his home. He didn’t know how those without a basement ever survived. He locked all three deadbolts on the steel door he had in place. He knew he would be safe until morning.

Such a strange town it was. Everyone started work at the same time. Places like the bank and grocery store stayed open an hour later than everything else so people could get milk or eggs before going home. Jerry doubted anyone cooked an evening meal. He imagined most people had a sandwich and chips like he did.

Finish the story…

Happy Writing!

Dealing With Focus & Productivity Issues: Part 6

You probably already know how hard it is to focus on your fiction writing at times. Maybe you have trouble focusing on it more often than you’d like, especially when life gets in the way or life is up in the air, so to speak.

Focus issues are often the result of different things like boredom, lack of interest or even fatigue. Concentration can often be attributed by how motivated and interested we are in the work, but with fiction it can be other things; like not being happy with where the story is going, a boring character, etc. That’s a post for another time. Today I want to discuss focus in general, because it’s not always our fiction work we have trouble focusing on, but other things in life, too. Continue reading

Writing Prompt: OCD Lunch

Photo by Faisal M on Unsplash

If you’ve seen the movie As Good As it Gets with Jack Nicholson, then you already have an idea of what this prompt is about, but of course, I’m going to give you a few angles you can take with this.

Either use this prompt to describe yourself–a dialogue with yourself about how irrational you are or how you think your behavior is perfectly normal.

Or, you can simply use it to describe your actions. It could be serious or humorous.


Or use these questions to dig a bit deeper: Continue reading

Exercises to Improve Focus & Productivity: Part 5

When TV newscaster Diane Sawyer was asked the secret to her success, she said, “I think the one lesson I’ve learned is there is no substitute for paying attention.”

Did you know improving your focus can be done with different types of simple exercises? It’s true. Something as simple as getting exercise on a daily basis or chewing gum can improve your brain function, which leads to better focus. Most of the time, focus exercises take less than ten minutes to do.

As writers, we definitely need to improve our focus. We all know how easy it is to get distracted, even when we desperately want to work on a story.

Check out these to get started:

  •      Mutter to yourself. It might seem like you’re crazy but talking to yourself either out loud or not, helps you pay attention, calms you emotionally and tells you to act.
  •      Trade your caffeine for cardio. Caffeine gives you a boost, which makes it easier to concentrate. But you might find it harder to focus when you’re not buzzed. A better way to keep your mind stimulated is with physical exercise. Exercise triggers the release of chemicals in the brain that affect our learning and memory, which in the end are what help us focus.
  •      Drink more water. Mild dehydration can lead to distraction. Being even as little as 2 percent dehydrated can affect your ability to concentrate on cognitive activities.
  •      Get plenty of sleep. Getting at least seven hours of good quality sleep each night helps your body and mind rejuvenate and leads to better concentration and focus during the day.

Continue reading

Strategies to Improve Writer Focus & Productivity: Part 4

You’d be surprised by how many people lose track of where their time goes. They might think they are focused on a single task, but are they really? One way to find out is to keep track of how you spend your time for a week. You might find out you’ve been wasting time on little things like checking Facebook once an hour.

Here are some strategies for improving your focus and increasing your productivity: Continue reading

Writing Prompt: Alien Checkers

Here’s a cute writing prompt you can have some fun with.

It can be written as a children’s story or even as a comedy. The possibilities are endless. 😉


You’re abducted by aliens, but instead of poking and prodding you, they merely want to play a game of checkers.

  • Where did the aliens come from?
  • What is so intriguing to them about playing checkers?
  • Who else have they abducted?
  • What happens to those who can’t play checkers?
  • Describe their planet or space ship.
  • Do the aliens play fair or do they cheat?

Happy Writing!

Tips to Improve Focus for Better Writer Productivity: Part 3

Maybe you want to focus on a single task, but find yourself easily distracted. You find it difficult to focus on what you are doing because you find your mind wandering, you’re worrying about everything or maybe you just have way too many things you need to do to make a choice of just one task to start with.  After all, this is how you’ve been working for a long time, right?

Here are some valuable tips on how to improve focus.


Listen to music to help improve your focus. Really concentrate on the music. Try to focus on a single instrument.  It also helps if you can work with background music on. I’ve been doing it so long that when I can’t focus on work, it occurs to me I don’t have my work playlist going. Continue reading

Multitasking Does Not Help Writer Productivity: Part 2

In my last post, Increasing Your Focus for Better Writing Productivity, I discussed the importance of being focused and how successful people know it’s the key to being productive (and successful.)

Today, I want to talk about why you should avoid multitasking.

Multitasking is overrated!

If you’re like many people you spend most days multitasking. You’re probably so used to multitasking that you don’t even realize when you’re doing it. After all, it’s a skill many employers look for in their employees. Many people believe multitasking saves them time. There are many reasons why multitasking is bad. It’s better to focus on the task at hand.

Maybe you think focusing on one task at a time is boring, so you prefer to work on several. Well, here’s some reasons why multitasking is bad. Continue reading

Increasing Your Focus for Better Writing Productivity: Part 1

Hey guys,

In past careers I was a freelance writer, a virtual assistant, a PLR store owner and creator. I have a lot of content laying around my hard drive that can be very useful to writers, so I thought I’d start posting some of the articles here at Fiction Toolbox.

Are you easily distracted? Does it seem like you’re constantly trying to stay on top of things, but yet never get anything major done? It could be that you’re not focusing on important things and seeing them through to completion.

In our lives today, we are busier than ever before. We think technology has streamlined many tasks, but instead we are given more tools that give us more and more to do with less time to do it. We are stressed and overwhelmed. The phrase “time management” has become taboo, since it implies there are different ways to cram even more into our already overflowing lives.

We have been lead to believe that if we don’t multitask every minute of our day we will not be productive. This can’t be farther from the truth.

Successful people, including writers, have long realized that focus is the key to being productive. Continue reading

Writing Prompt: The Photographer

A photographer is out shooting pictures in a park one day–just random shots, not even trying to get the perfect shot.
Once he gets home and looks at the pictures, he spots a woman in one of the shots.
He sees her in several shots and becomes intrigued by her.
In the final shot, through some trees, he sees her being abducted. He feels moved and compelled to save her.


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