Archives for 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.