Anyone remember what ‘normal life’ was like before this started? Before lockdown? It’s beginning to fade for me, too, but there have been benefits. More time and less distractions have meant I’ve been doing more writing myself. Not on short stories, this time, but on my current project. You never know, by the time this is done, I might have the first draft done!
What you need: A list of words, either from a word generator, a friend or that you’ve created yourself.
This is a relatively simple exercise, and the difficulty changes depending on you. You need a list of words to start, and these words must all feature in what you write – in the exact way you’ve recorded them. No changes, even to alter the tense or make it plural, are allowed.
You should set a word limit on this piece at the start, as that will help you decide how many words to add to your list. A shorter limit, like 500 or 1,000 words, with a list of 20 could be more challenging than a 2,000-word piece with the same list, for example.
The kind of story you create is up to you, but if the list is themed, that might help with genre or setting.
Mix it up: You can do this same exercise in reverse. Take the list of words, or a different set, and write without using them at all. It might sound easy, but that depends on the number of words you have and how long your story is. If it is easy, make the list longer and change the wordcount.
What you need: A fictional character.
This is an interesting exercise in that it allows you to explore a character more deeply. It can be a protagonist that you think you know well, or a more minor character you want to flesh out and understand better.
Take the role of an interviewer sitting down with this character and ask questions about a topic. This topic can be based on real news you’ve seen or something in their world, but I’ve always found the former to be more interesting.
Consider the tone of your interviewer; are they polite or aggressive, pushy or laidback, informed or misleading? This can change the tone of the piece, as your character will react differently.
If it helps, you can always ask a friend to sit down with you and act it out, getting a feel for the setting and take other parts of communication into account, like tone and body language, for example.
This exercise can be done in script and prose form, making it very versatile.
Mix it up: Add in another character, either from the same world as the first or a completely different one. You can have the two complement each other or go against each other but taking the view of the interviewer into account is important, too. Bias, attitudes and topics can bring a whole different side of these characters to life.
This is the fourth set of writing exercises, and I hope you’ve found them useful. I’d originally intended to finish the series here, but there’s been a good reception to these posts and plenty more exercises to share – maybe from you, too. What I will do, after next week, is take a little break. I don’t want anything to get repetitive, but when I find good ones, or suggestions come in, you can sure I’ll share them. Maybe I’ll collate them in an easier to find place.
Check back next week for the last batch (for now).