An Activity for when you are Stuck

Freewriting is an excellent activity when your mind is drawing blanks. Sometimes all you need is a word(s) to stimulate a story or memory.

Your task is to:

  1. Make a list of between ten and fifteen words that may or may not be related.
  2. Word choices might have something to do with sights, sounds, tastes, textures in your known world, or in a world that you want to create.
  3. Narrow the list down to seven to ten words that you feel you can incorporate in your writing.
  4. Write for at least ten minutes, using each word in its own sentence.
  5. When finished, remove all but one word, the one that calls to you.
  6. Write a short narrative that focuses on the feelings and images that your word inspires.

If you now have something that you can expand into a story, well, good luck!

Have fun with this one.

Deepest Longing

When I was a child I didn’t yearn for dolls or fancy dresses. I wanted to feel special, to feel loved. To be treated as an equal to my older brother.

As a teen I wanted social acceptance which was never going to happen because I dressed in old-fashioned homemade clothes. On top of that I was painfully shy. When I realized that college might be an option, I yearned to go anywhere that got me out of the home.

As you can see, my longings had to do with being loved, being accepted and escaping home.

Your characters must have yearnings that compel their interests and desires. These yearnings need to be so powerful that the reader senses them and identifies with them. They also must present fairly early in the work so as to establish the motivations behind what your character says and does.

Your task is to take a character that will appear in a story. Put the name at the top of the page. Then create a list of at least five yearnings that would drive that individual’s actions.

Choose the most dynamic thing on the list. The one that could spur the most controversy. Maybe even get your character in trouble.

Begin writing, keeping in mind that the yearning appears early on. Do not directly state the yearning, but rather find a way to show it through dialogue or action.

Reread. Does it shine forth? Can you feel the character’s desires?

Have fun with this one.

 

Favorite Books

Whenever someone asks me which book is my favorite, I have to honestly say that I love all kinds of books. I read constantly. Usually I am reading two books at the same time. And I read across genres.

What about your character? What does she like to read? What is it about her preferred genre that she enjoys?

Your task is to generate a list of at least five different things that your protagonist reads. Include a variety of materials, including papers and magazines.

Once you have established the list, narrow it down to the two that you feel could be influential in a story.

Put things in motion. Perhaps she is in the library reading her favorite periodical. How does she react? What feelings run through her head? What happens when someone walks up and interrupts her reading?

Write the story. When you finish, reread for details. Make sure that something compelling happens.

Have fun with this one.

Wedding Photo Stories

Sometimes we get stuck. Can’t think of anything to write about. Try several ideas, but none of them pan out. So what do you do?

Rather than giving up, try taking out your own wedding photo, or it that doesn’t inspire you, a photo of someone else.

Look into the eyes of the characters. See how they stand next to each other. Is there physical contact or distance? Are they aloof or relaxed? Examine clothing, not just for style, but for fit. Is the groom’s tie off-center as if put on without regard for appearance? Is the bride’s gown form-fitting, highlighting the shape of her body?

Take a look at the shoes. If they appear worn, then our characters might have been short on money. Perhaps the groom’s left shoe tilts to the inside. Think about how that affects his gait. If the bride is wearing flats, then maybe she would be too tall in high heels.

Where are they standing? Some couples have their pictures taken at the front of the church, some outside under a shady tree. Choice of location indicates how the couple feels about the environment and their place in it.

Your task now is to write their story. You do not have to write about the wedding itself, but it is okay if you do. Instead imagine a scene in which this couple might have met or a place where they enjoy spending time. Give them names, personalities and forms of speech. Engage them in an activity that is compelling, a tension-filled scene in which each character wants something.

At the end one of your characters must be fulfilled while the other may still be wanting.

Have fun with this one.