With April Fool’s Day coming up I figured it’s the perfect opportunity to have a writing prompt focused on tone. Pranks are something that can be malicious or amusing depending on the intent and how they are executed, and this prompt involves using that concept to write the same scene two ways. The goal is to make minimal changes if possible, but to drastically alter the tone.
Your character is at work and is preparing to pull a prank on a coworker. What’s your character’s job? How does he/she feel about the job? How long has he/she worked there?
What is his/her relationship with the coworker? Do they know each other well, or are they just getting acquainted?
In this version, your character is pulling a light-hearted prank that isn’t meant to be malicious. It’s supposed to be fun and non-damaging. How does the coworker take it? Is the coworker a prank person, or are they uptight and take it poorly? Maybe they are normally a good prank person but today they’re having a bad day. Don’t forget, it’s all about perspective so use that to help set the tone, and remember to focus on the intent of the prankster, whether the recipient of the prank takes it well or not.
Start a little before the prank happens and foreshadow what’s about to come. Then show the aftermath. Are there any repercussions? Does the prank victim want revenge? Does the prankster feel happy? Sad? Disappointed? How long have they been planning this prank?
Play with it and see what the tone is when you’re doing. Then it’s time for…
Your goal is to get the exact opposite tone of scene one with minimal changes to the prank itself. Use the foreshadowing to help, and focus on the aftermath. How do the small changes affect the larger tone? How do they affect the plot?
The purpose of this prompt is to show how minor details can have a huge impact on a story and the way it’s interpreted. So play with it and see how little you can change and still have a major impact.
Then change more. If you’re really feeling adventurous, you could even change genre or styles to see what that looks like.
Until next time, happy writing!
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