Archives for writing exercises

#FlashPIC 54 Will It Hurt #writingprompt #amwriting

You are high in the air, looking down. It is a long way to the ground. Why are you there, what are you doing? Write a foot chase sequence for a book or film in which your character has no choice but to go forwards, whatever the risk. This is a writing prompt from the Writers’ BLOCKbusters series. For inspiration, analyse chase sequences from these films:- Titanic – Jack and Rose being chased around RMS Titanic by Cal’s manservant, Spicer Lovejoy; The Pelican Brief – Darby Shaw and Gray Grantham being chased around a multi-storey car park by Stump; Police Story – this Jackie Chan film is packed with chase scenes; Bullitt – watch this not only for the car chases, but for the final foot chase as Steve McQueen and Pat Renella’s characters stalk each other across San Francisco airport; There are six steps to writing a great chase scene:- Set-up – build the suspense, tension and risk from the beginning; Build-up – make the goal important, who is chasing who, what is to be gained and lost, what risks are the chased and the chaser prepared to take; Climax – add some emotional pressure; What to leave out – the
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Categories: On Writing, Writers' BLOCKbusters and Writing exercises.

#FlashPIC 53 Wheatfield after Harvest #writingprompt #amwriting

Imagine you are a teenager again, laying in a recently harvested field of wheat. Recreate those lazy hazy days of summer when school was out and days seemed endless. This is a writing prompt from the Writers’ BLOCKbusters series. Remember what it was to be a teenager when your life seems on hold, when days seem empty and infinite. Put a teenage character into this wheatfield and write a short piece in real time, minute by minute, dwelling on the slow passing of time. Not a lot may happen, the action is in the character’s thoughts – this moment, remembering something that happened, anticipating something hoped for. © ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’ by Sandra Danby Want more inspiration? Try these other FlashPICs:- Wet Leaves  Laburnum  Cable  What are ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’? I want to help you put words on the page. Those words won’t necessarily be the first line of your novel, or indeed anything to do with your novel, but they will be words to fill that intimidating blank space. And it couldn’t be quicker. Writers’ BLOCKbusters is a collection of three ebooks of writing prompts. Why are they different? Precisely because they are short, easy to use, and flexible. Designed for writers of
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Categories: On Writing and Writers' BLOCKbusters.

#FlashPIC 52 A Lion on a Tube Train #writingprompt #amwriting

Today’s writing exercise considers a surreal image – the juxtaposition of the mundane and the unexpected, an unconscious expression of fantasy, of the inner world of a character. Let’s explore how the surreal can be used to hint at a character’s conscious and unconscious mind, deepening the reader’s understanding of his motivation, perhaps misleading the reader about what a character is really like. This is a writing prompt from the Writers’ BLOCKbusters series. Consider this image of an everyday scene – a train – with a dreamlike image – the lion. Is the lion really there? If it is, write an action scene of what happens next. If the lion is a figment of your character’s imagination, what in his sub-conscious makes him see the lion at this particular point in time? Is this a regular vision? Is the trigger internal or external? What does this vision say to the reader? And how can you use it to convey additional information about this character? © ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’ by Sandra Danby Want more inspiration? Try these other FlashPICs:- Ethereal Rubbish  Anonymous People  Waiting Beneath the Clock What are ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’? I want to help you put words on the page. Those words won’t
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Categories: On Writing and Writers' BLOCKbusters.

#FlashPIC 51 Sky on Fire #writingprompt #amwriting

Changing weather is a useful technique used over and again by writers of fiction, poetry and films. It can convey atmosphere, increasing or decreasing dramatic tension, signal turning points in the story and hint at the inner world of a character. Today’s #FlashPIC is Sky on Fire. This is a writing prompt from the Writers’ BLOCKbusters series. This is a brainstorming exercise. Consider each of the following, one at a time, and write a list of what this photograph suggests to you:- Weather, climate or environmental conditions; Atmosphere, the external feelings that come from the environment; Mood, the feeling this Sky on Fire creates in the reader; Man-made actions that could create a sky like this; A person’s instinctive actions and words, suggested by this #FlashPIC – thoughtful, considered, impulsive and rash; A character’s deeper emotions and motivations, hidden to others and perhaps unknown to the person himself – key in suggesting a conflicted character. Can you make connections between items on your different lists, what do they suggest to you? © ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’ by Sandra Danby Want more inspiration? Try these other FlashPICs:- Rocks, as if Split by an Axe  Plastic Bag  Lion Gatepost  What are ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’? I want to
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Categories: On Writing and Writers' BLOCKbusters.

#FlashPIC 50 Tube Platform #writingprompt #amwriting

One setting, one character on different days. Today’s writing exercise puts you into the mind of a person who is in the same place, same surroundings, on different days. Explore the variations possible as the day and time changes. The scene is a platform, deep underground, on the London Underground. This is a writing prompt from the Writers’ BLOCKbusters series. First create the setting. Use the five senses to consider this place in 3D. Sight. Sound. Smell. Touch. Taste. This is an everyday scene, predictable, familiar. Create an outline of a character who visits this place regularly. Why are they there, how do they feel about it? Build up a picture of your character’s interaction with this place on an ordinary day. Now put your character into this place and make one sense dominant above all others. Use it to dramatic effect – perhaps the smell of a commuter’s perfume, the sound of an alarm bell, the sight of something which is a surprise. Concentrate on this one sense until you can write no more. You might write a description piece, an action scene, an inner monologue – whichever seems best to you. Repeat this exercise using a second sense. And
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Categories: On Writing and Writers' BLOCKbusters.

#FlashPIC 43 A Tree Alone #writingprompt #amwriting

A single tree on the horizon. It’s an enigmatic setting. This exercise is about how setting can add to the context of your story, adding layers of complexity and mood. This is a writing prompt from the Writers’ BLOCKbusters series. First, decide what you want the tree to symbolise. Is it a meeting place, the place of a confrontation for your rights, a liaison with a lover, a battle? Write a paragraph, a page or however much you need, to work out the details. Give the tree some history, a legend, a rumour. Is treasure buried there? Was a murder committed beneath its branches? Is it a portal to a different world? Do its leaves have magical powers? Work out how your description of the tree can add to the story. Consider all parts of the tree, its roots, branches, leaves, in all four seasons, in different weather. Choose the species of tree – deciduous or evergreen, young or old – and think about this can add hints about your theme. This is not a story about a tree. It is a story in which a tree features. You just need to decide how to use the tree to help you tell
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Categories: Writers' BLOCKbusters and Writing exercises.

Writing Exercise – the five senses

When the imagination is sluggish, it sometimes pays dividends to take it by the hand and lead it towards creativity. This writing exercise has worked for me in the past. It can seem a little time-consuming when all you have to show for it at the end is a paragraph of text, but I have found the mini-brainstorms on the senses useful in other places. For example… SIGHT Blue sky – azure blue, the Maldives, a hot summer’s day, an icy winter’s day, white puffy clouds like cotton wool. A car park – red cars, blue cars, large and small, dirty and clean, cars for two people and cars for six, Polish man pushing a trolley ‘wash your car today?’, pennies for the parking ticket machine Waiting in line at the bus stop – schoolgirl with heavy bag of books eating a packet of crisps, an elderly lady with bulging plastic bags at her feet, a teenage boy in jeans sits on the bench playing a game on his mobile phone, a man in a blue uniform with a clipboard writes something down as the bus approaches Looking down a stairwell – floor after floor below, vertigo, more floors above, like being
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Categories: On Writing and Writing exercises.

Writing Exercise – using photographs

Using memory as a trigger for a story idea can work on a small or large scale. This story was written in 2002 and started as a writing exercise. I used an old photo-booth photograph of me one summer in the 1960s, aged about seven, wearing a heavy-knit Aran sweater. FRECKLES “Congratulations,” said the judge, the doctor’s wife, as she pinned the red rosette on the bridle. Red was for first. The horse hadn’t won the prize, its rider had. A skinny black-haired girl with very red lips wore a thin smile and an Annie Oakley costume complete with Stetson and chaps. She perched on top of the horse, too big to be hers, as if she were balancing on top of a barbed-wire fence. The stereo sound of sniffing emerged from fancy dress contestants to Annie’s left and right. The doctor’s wife walked quicker along the line of ponies, her thighs rubbing together. It was a hot, static sort of sound. “Well done.” The green rosette, green for second, was awarded to a chimney sweep whose father swept  chimneys. He was carrying his father’s brushes and wearing his father’s work trousers, rolled up at the ankles, black with coal
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Categories: Writing exercises.

Writing exercise: getting to know a new character

When I’m trying to get to know a new character, nothing works better for me than a writing exercise. If I’ve already got some plot ideas I will put them into a scene which may come in useful later, otherwise I think of my character exercises as investment pieces. If I don’t know where to start, I choose a day-to-day situation and begin there. Often I will give myself 20 minutes, sitting in a busy coffee shop and write longhand in my Muji notebook. The routine seems to help. Here are two I wrote earlier. I’m not sure what the future holds for Malcolm and Doreen. Doreen looped the pinny over her head and tied the strings at her back in a floppy bow, the edges of the apron stretched across her ample bosom. She glanced at her watch as she took it off and put it in a dry spot on the windowsill. 4.36pm. She only had 54 minutes before Malcolm would be home, 54 minutes to tidy up and cook his tea. She turned on the hot tap and tested the water with her fingers before squeezing in a 1p-sized blob of Fairy into the washing up bowl.
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Categories: Writing exercises.