Seven Writing Exercises
Let each of the following inform you as a writer.
1. Write your character’s horoscope. In fact, write two or three characters’ horoscopes. Have your MC get a fortune cookie with an odd fortune. What would it say? If each chapter heading was an odd fortune, what would they say?
2. Have your character write her own obituary.
3. Have your character write a letter for you, talking about herself and her situation and trying to convince your potential agent or editor to take this book on.
4. Imitating Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood, take a look at religion and its importance in your work, even if it never shows up in your book. Write a scene where this belief system is shown. No preaching.
5. GROUP WORK. Each writer will need a completed novel and a detailed synopsis. Planning for several hours, go to the library with four of five other writers. If you want to hear from each person on your novel, divide time evenly. Each person gets one book to critique that is not her own. Read and critique. At the appointed time, switch novels AFTER the critiquer has written–in 25 words or less–what has happened up to this point. When you pass off the books, the new critiquer reads the synopsis (not to edit but to inform her) and the 25 word note then continues critique where the previous reader stopped. Read until time is called. If you have five books and six hours, every person gets 72 minutes with each novel.
6. Getting to know the plot and subplots of your book, write each as news articles, journal entries, headlines, from the voice of a local newscaster, as an announcement over the intercom at school etc. Make them as detailed as needed.
7. Okay, this one isn’t that unusual, but going through your book cut every ‘ly’ adverb you can–cut every well, that, very, started, began you can–change every was-ing word into one word (I was running becomes I ran)–make sure every pronoun works and isn’t confusing–replace all weak verbs with strong verbs–get rid of as many adjectives as you can–and cut all cliches. Take one day to do this work (it will take at least that long). Don’t read for anything but these seven things. Set the book aside for a week. Now read again. How does it sound?
This, Friends, is gonna be fun.