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A discussion to stoke your writing fire.
Posted: 8/30/2008 1:10 AM PDT
Thanks for this forum and what you are all sharing.
I also like thinking about animals. Whether in a farm, a jungle, by species, by breeds,... I google them, go and see the pictures with their faces. I equate the animals to characters. So for example: How would a cheetah will relate to a turtle who has a limp? Or a shark with a sheep?
Posted: 8/7/2008 7:19 PM PDT
Choose gender and age of a character, the person your story is about. Then give that person a birthdate. Next, do a basic "natal birth chart" on this ficticious person, based on that birthdate. A natal chart will give a basic personality type for the person, and what kind of lifestyle the person has. Now, you know your character intimately. Based on that, choose a name, using a Baby Name program or book. One that fits this personality.
Now you have your whole person. Next, choose a major point in your own life. Write, in journal-fashion what happened to you. Now, place your newly-developed character in that same situation. This character, being a different personality type from you, with different ways of reacting, and different likes and dislikes, (possibly even a different gender) would handle that situation differently than you did. Write the situation out, imagining how this person would have dealt with that. From there, take it backwards: how did this person (using the natal chart) get into this situation to begin with? And what will be the consequences of this action for this particular person?
Now you've got the basis for a story. Good or bad, it'll get the wheels turning.
Posted: 7/29/2008 10:48 AM PDT
I can't figure out where to start writing.Will the computer hold my thoughts and let me make changes.
Posted: 7/22/2008 6:06 PM PDT
wow i never tried anything like that b4...
Posted: 7/16/2008 3:15 PM PDT
Natalie Goldberg is where I learned the "I remember" prompt, written the same way Melissa described it. Goldberg's a genius.
Posted: 7/16/2008 1:32 PM PDT
Take a random object and describe it in any way. You can list adjectives, write sentences, or even write a poem about this object. When you've done a substantial amount of work, repeat this with another object. Now look at what you have. Try to write about both things. If you were blocked wanting to write a poem, don't write a poem this time. You can write paragraphs, dialogues, poems, jokes, plays, and anything else imaginable. They don't have to be long, and the more rediculous, the better.
Posted: 7/9/2008 1:45 PM PDT
It's pretty low-tech, but I do a LOT of timed free-writes. I got my technique from Natalie Goldberg, who teaches about both writing and Zen. Set a timer (10 minutes is a great time), get a notebook and a pen, and there are only two rules: Your hand MUST keep moving, and no thinking allowed. It's helpful to start with a word or a prompt, but you can go in whatever direction your hand/mind take you. The prompt is a good place to come back to when you panic and think, "I don't have anything else to write! Oh no!" You can write the prompt over and over again, for the whole 10 minutes if you have to -- but you won't have to. It makes absolutely no difference if what you write is crap or genius.
I rarely use this to actually compose, but I do it everyday for at least 10 minutes. I consider it essential for "keeping the pipes clean."
(For those who've never read her, Natalie Goldberg's books are great -- Writing Down the Bones is a classic.)
Posted: 7/8/2008 10:24 AM PDT
I have a technique my teacher taught us.
Hold a piece of paper in front of you and just write anything and everything that comes to your mind. Even if it's a simples as, "I would really like a taco." Eventually the writer's block will crumble.
Posted: 5/30/2008 4:55 PM PDT
I highly recommend "The Observation Deck". It's a set containing a book and deck of cards, both designed to get the rusty old gears turning again.
And here's a tip I've found very helpful at times: imagine how some other person, living or dead, would proceed. It can be someone you despise, someone you admire, a fictitious character...really anyone, so long as you have a clear mental picture of that person's public persona. In my case, I try to go with a public figure who seems intelligent but otherwise my polar opposite (in terms of values, politics, aesthetic tastes, etc.). For me, it seems that zeroing in on what I *don't* want my characters to do or say helps me figure out what I *do* want them to do and say.
Posted: 5/23/2008 7:05 AM PDT
Set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes. Write the words "I want," at the top of the page, and then finish the sentence with as many different objects as you can think of. Use only concrete nouns, like "I want a cat's eye marble," not abstract ideas, accomplishments, or verbs like, "I want to be loved" or "I want to run a marathon." When you're done, close your eyes and put your pen somewhere random on the page. Circle the object that your pen lands. Do it again, so that you have two random objects to "want."
Then, write a story in which your main character goes in search for one object, and comes back with the other.
For an extra challenge, try experimenting with different parameters for your story. Here are two ideas:
1) Time: Write a story in which the quest takes place over the course of a year, a day, or a single hour. (Or pick the same objects and write the story three different ways!)
2) Space: Restrict your character's movement to within one city block, or send him or her on a journey of at least 3,000 miles.
Got other great ideas for writing prompts and exercises? Share them here!