The Aresan Clan is published four times a week (Tue, Wed, Fri, Sun). You can see what's been written so far collected here. All posts will be posted under the Aresan Clan label. For summaries of the events so far, visit here. See my previous serial Vampire Wares collected here.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Creative Writing Exercises

One of my writing teachers gave us once a really great exercise for helping a writer to work on description. The basic idea is that you give yourself, or your students, a limited set of events, something that could be described in maybe a page or two, and have them write it out in fifteen pages. No dialogue, no internal monologue, just description.

The way he gave it to us, our story had to have these elements: 1) the protagonist wakes up on the second floor of a building 2) the protagonist goes down to the first floor 3) On the first floor is someone that the protagonist wants to avoid 4) That someone needs to be sensed without being seen (such as heard, smelled or felt) 5) The protagonist needs to exit the building and get into a vehicle of some sort; anything, as long as it produces some sort of noise 6) It needs to be 15 pages long (in other words, 4500 words) and 7) It can't have any dialogue or internal monologue.

The students in our class came up with all types of different stories, despite the limitations. One story was about a girl waking up in her boyfriend's house and hearing her boyfriend's mother downstairs, realizing she had to get out of the house without being seen by the mother. Another was about a guy waking up in a drunken stupor at the office and trying to get out without getting noticed. You could have a story of someone waking up a trying to steal. Mine was about aliens kidnapping a man for testing, and him waking up, severely weakened by the drugs and struggling to get out of the building.

The story that results will probably not be a good story. Since you'll be padding it out with so much extra description and expostulation, it'll plod along slowly, but it's good for forcing yourself to practice those techniques. And if you struggle writing 15 pages, then description might be something you need to work more on.

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