Prompt: In 300 to 500 words, write a story sketch which has this ending: a character goes somewhere to apologize to someone else.

This prompt works the “plot-writing” muscle, located somewhere near the abdominals. If you have no trouble constructing great plots and sticking to them, you are a literary elitist, in the so-called 1%. That is to say, just about every writer I’ve known struggles with plot. So it’s a good thing to focus on in isolation. Do that with this scene, attending to the sequence of events that create a scenario in which this ending has meaning. Again, it’s someone travelling somewhere to make an apology.

I say “story sketch.” If it helps you to think in terms of an outline, do that. You can even use numbering of the plot points, as I’ve done below. But don’t go so far as to use Roman numerals.

If you get stuck, use a visualization technique and use descriptive phrases to capture what you see. You can also adopt your protagonist’s voice to make things more colorful. I used both these techniques when having my own try (below) at this prompt during a Fiction 1 class at Gotham Writer’s Workshop in 2015.

Tip: it’s not often in our story writing that we work towards a known endpoint. It calls for some reverse engineering. Trying making the need to apologize arise from an action rather than someone merely saying something rude.