Today’s exercise you can do on your own or share with a writers group.
Step 1: Write a secret. A dark secret that you would not tell anyone. No one will see this writing but you need to go for it. Hole up in a corner and dig in. Get as close to the core as you can. Do this for ten minutes.
Step 2: Write about the secret again, but this time change the POV to second person (replacing ‘I’ with ‘you’). ie: You didn’t mean to do it. It was an accident but there was so much blood . . .” blah blah. Again, this part of the exercise is only for you.
Step 3: Write about the same secret AGAIN but this time put it in third person AND change the facts in a significant way. Maybe change who it happened to, the gender of the persons involved, the outcome of the incident, the time frame, whatever. By this time, your secret has become a piece of fiction to a certain extent.
This is the one you will share with your writing group. If you can do it anonymously (this works best in a physical meeting–bring the excerpts and pass them around. No names. You can figure out how to do it online). If you don’t want to do this in a group, do the same exercise a few times so that you have a few scenarios written up (and transformed).
Step 4: Try weaving several of the secrets you read or wrote into a story.
Step 5: Share the stories with your group. Coming from the book Metro, “One think you may notice is what a great relief it is not to have things happen exactly as they happened. Another is that someone else’s ‘elaboration’ on your original ‘idea’ may have made it more powerful.” Listen to what surprises you. In your own work and in the work of others.
Our lives are the material for our writing, no matter how far removed.