Often scenes in a short story are used to advance a characters’ understanding and their agendas. For this assignment, make sure you identify what each character wants in the scene and how they try to get it from the other person in this scene. 

In your writing, there must be some conflict of agendas (but remember, that does not have to necessarily be overt between the characters. They may possibly not speak to each other, or speak very little. They may be unaware of each other’s agenda.) Do not forget to draw the scene in full, to make sure you have a sense of place/setting.

NOTE! These are only suggestions to get your imagination going. If you like one of them, that’s fine. If you don’t like any and have another idea, that’s fine too.

  • An engagement party. The mother of the groom-to-be is talking to the brother of the bride.
  • A grandchild has come over to help the grandparent pack up the apartment/house where the grandparent has lived for many years. The grandparent is moving far away.Two roommates cooking dinner. (Their conflict/agendas could be about anything, not the dinner at all.)
  • Two strangers in a company waiting area are both interviewing for the same job (or believe they are.)
  • Two acquaintances run into each other (at a party, in the library, doing laundry.) They have only been casual acquaintances so far, but one wants to ask the other for a date.
  • A landlord/landlady telling a tenant that he/she must move.
  • A dating couple. One has just received his/her acceptance into the best graduate program in the country, but it is far away.
  • A young child wants an expensive toy.
  • Two friends are hosting a party together. During the party, one of the hosts sees something that is wrong or unsettling (or something that could be taken as wrong or unsettling but may be ambiguous) done by the other host’s guests.
  • Two old friends. One owes the other a significant amount of money.

Enjoy the stories that were created!


Clay heard the commotion outside the saloon and saw a huge man and two smaller guys tormenting this poor older man. Shooting at his feet, pushing him around. He looked around the bar, and everyone else just sat quietly and drank. Almost as if they were trying to hide from the wrath of this bully and his goons. He pulled the poster out from his poncho and looked at it. The face on the poster matched the ugly brute in the street. Clay put a coin on the counter, finished his drink, and walked out of the bar doors into the center of Main Street. 

He stood 30 feet from this hulking mass of a man. The men fell silent, taken by surprise that someone had dared step into the street. Clay looked up at them and said, “Afternoon, gentlemen.”

A tumbleweed rolled through in between the men and Clay. The big man pulled down his bandana from his face and looked Clay up and down, analyzing him almost as if he was deciding if he was worth the time. He chuckled to himself, starting quiet and getting louder and louder as the laugh went on. This big man was hysterical. His goons started chuckling too, unsure of what was going on in their leader’s mind. 

The big man calms down, wipes a tear from his eye and says, “Kid, I’m gonna give you one chance to turn around and hightail it outta this town before I shoot you to hell, you hear me? Go play hero somewhere else.”

“Sir, I ain’t playing. I know you’ve been tormenting these people the past few months. See I’m what people would call a bounty hunter. Sent by the government to catch you ‘Brutus Bryan’. Clay pushed aside his poncho to reveal his six-shooter. 

“They specifically said ‘Dead or Alive.’”

“Well ain’t that cute! Boys, this hunter thinks he’s the first to come after me.” Brutus chuckled to himself.

“I’ve seen my share of bounty hunters, all more tough than you, scrawny.”

“Well they may have looked tough, but they can’t shoot like me,” Clay said. 

“I’m the best shot in the west. My uncle Wyatt showed me everything he knew. Surely you’ve heard of Wyatt Earp?”

“You’re the nephew of the Wyatt Earp?” Brutus chuckled, “You’re bluffing. And ain’t no one a better shot than me anyway.”

“Why don’t we have a duel then? Your gun against mine.” 

Clay was actually not bluffing, his uncle was the lawman Wyatt Earp. 

“You’re a fool if you think I’ll lose. I should shoot you right now and just end this ordeal. I’m Brutus Bryan, and I do what I want.”

“Well, Brutus Bryan, I, Clay Earp, am officially challenging you to a duel.”

Brutus was starting to get nervous. Sweat was collecting on his brow as the sun beat down on the men. The kid wasn’t backing down, and if he was who he said he was, this wasn’t going to end well for Brutus. 

“Alright then,” Brutus said after a moment, “I accept your challenge, Clay Earp.”