As you know (Thank you Amanda for keeping people informed) this has been a really interesting week for me, and by interesting I mean “argh” which continues today with some more tests.
So, I’m doing this the easy way by making you do the work.
Look, every writer should do exercises, every once in a while. No, I don’t mean push ups at your desk, though that might not hurt either. As many of you know I have a treadmill desk, though I’m not using it this week because I have been becoming frighteningly dehydrated even without sweating. However, next week…
But I meant doing writing exercises.
Ours is an art like any other art and it benefits from practice. We are however the only artists who expect our exercises to be saleable every time. Sometimes they won’t be. Many a painter paints over the last picture, because he knows it’s not his best. Sometimes the exercise can SPARK something saleable, but it’s not saleable in and of itself. However when you know you’re not writing for consumption you can experiment, which is difficult to do when you are writing to sell.
Some exercises I’ve tried, and which have helped me:
-Take the first three pages of a story you wrote long ago (this being relative to when you started working) and which you don’t feel happy with and change the voice. If it was third person, make it first. If it was omniscient, make it close in third person. Now change the pov. Instead of the main character, use a secondary one. Describe the same events. How did it change? Do you like it better now? (I actually rescued an old novel this way. It will get re-written.
Go to a place you’ve never been before: shop, coffee shop, mall, garden, whatever. Write three pages about your experience, as though it were a story. (i.e. not an essay but through your eyes while there.) Use all five senses every page.
Now do the same in a place that’s familiar to you but public: a favorite restaurant, a coffee shop, a museum.
For extra benefit, write the second one then revisit it and rewrite. Compare the two to see how many authentic details you missed in the first. (Or if you didn’t, congratulations.)
Take a scene from your favorite TV show. Rewrite it in a more real world and realistic way. Change things as needed. If needed research how things really are done in courtroom/lab/coffee shop/whatever.
Go out early morning to a diner. Listen to the conversation of the people nearest you.
Write it as though it were a short story.
Write it as though it were set in the future
Write it as though it were the beginning of a murder mystery.
Now go do some exercises (of whichever kind) and I promise a more substantial post next week!