Spring has sprung, judging for the Golden Heart is completed, and it’s time to pick up the pen (or keyboard) and start writing. I have a couple of contemporary stories in progress at the moment (short attention span), but have decided to dust off the story I started with at McDaniel instead. It’s the first story I ever completed and I have some ideas about how to make it better so that, just maybe, it won’t have to spend the rest of its days tucked away in the desk drawer gathering dust.
It’s been a while since I’ve looked at the story, so I need to do a little pre-work to get reacquainted, especially with the characters. After all, I can hardly hope to make them come alive on the page if I can’t make them come alive in my own mind. I could just look through all of my notes, but I’d like to get a fresh perspective and (hopefully) pick up some new ideas.
Writing exercises to the rescue!
Luckily for me, the class I attended at a recent RWA Chapter meeting included a few writing exercises that I can use as a starting point. Though the focus of the class was on writing dialogue, it included several character-related exercises since, in order to write believable dialogue, you need to really know your characters. The initial exercises in the class focused on describing a character (job, background, personality, family history, experience that impacted his/her life) and then deciding how that description would impact the way the character would talk and what they would (or would not) say.
My favorite exercise from the class (and the one I found the most useful) was the following:
A divorced couple is stuck in a cramped closet together, sitting side by side. Without using dialog, describe 3 ways they would show:
– that there might be something between them
Now, using only dialog, show the same things
Not as easy as it sounds, right?
Writing exercises are a fun way to jump-start my creativity. They also get me thinking about how my characters will act in various situations and how I can subtly show their reactions. I generally include a writing exercise or two in my daily writing routine to help keep me in a creative frame of mind. You can find additional character exercises in our posts here, here, and here, if you’re interested.
So, your turn. What can you come up with for the exercise? Please share in the comments (I’ll post my answers as well).