Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A People-Watching Activity

It's time for you to step out into the world.

All you need to do is write about the life of the very first person that you meet on the street. This can be your mailman, a cab driver, a bus driver, someone on the bus, a jogger - take your pick. All you need to do is single this person out and map out this person's day.

You can use only 1000 words. Avoid turning the story into a grocery checklist of activities, or an enumeration of other people that your lead character meets. Try writing a story that makes this person's life less boring, more exciting; if you have to turn your lead character into a super villain or a fantasy hero/heroine, go ahead. Your story doesn't have to be plausible; it just shouldn't be boring.

When you are done, post your story in the Comments section, or provide a link to it. Happy People Watching and Happy Writing!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Colorless Exercise in Writing


Your first job is to go to the link above to access the picture for this exercise.

Your next job is to write about that picture and describe it WITHOUT using the word "White," and without referring to any kind of color. There are many ways that you can go about this: you can describe what the picture makes you feel, what it reminds you of, or what led to the picture being taken. Whatever you do, you have 500 words or less to describe the picture without any reference to color.

This exercise should help you look for other ways to describe scenes without referring to color, and by utilizing all other senses. Some of the world's best writers can describe such a scene so that you make the colors in your head, simply because the scene is so vivid and real.

When you are done, post your work in the Comments section, or provide a link to it. Happy Writing and Good luck!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Read...Read...and Keep On Reading!

The best writers might tell you this exact same thing: The best writers are also the best and widest readers.

This blog post will not be long. It will only encourage you to constantly sit down with a book, whether it's on your ebook reader or a real, published, pages-and-cover book. This blog post asks you to prepare for your novel by reading novels.

Reading allows you to see how words are used, how paragraphs and sentences are put together, how characters are molded and developed, and how a plot unfolds. Reading allows you to see what work has been published, what people like, what publishers like, and, consequently, what you like or don't like in terms of literature.

By reading, you appreciate how difficult it is to write a book. By reading, you can see the world of literature, and perhaps your place in it.

Happy reading! Now go get a book and prepare yourself for some writing!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Reviewing an Anthology: Single Author

A collection of short stories is harder to review than an entire book. After all, writers need a different skill set in order to produce great short stories. Critiquing an anthology requires that you be cognizant of these skill sets. One such skill is the ability to condense a potentially long, drawn-out story into a few words without losing the essence of plot, characters, and setting.

It is your turn to review an anthology. This exercise should help you recognize themes in writing, as well as appreciate the difficulty of writing a short story. You might also find out what makes good stories, especially since a short story could contain what you might see as the "meat" of a potential novel.

Choose an anthology that is written by only one author. While reviewing your chosen anthology, ask yourself the following questions:

1. What theme runs throughout the short stories in this anthology?

2. What is the best story in this anthology and why?

3. What is the worst story in this anthology and why? Would you have removed this short story had you been the publisher of the anthology? Why or why not?

4. What kind of short story (plot, characters, setting, etc) would you have added if you were the anthology's writer?

5. What skill, overall, do you think the author uses best? Such skills may include good dialogues, character development, plot unfolding, etc.?

6. In connection with question #5: Which skill should the author continue to develop?

These are only a few questions that you should ask as you write your review of your anthology. Happy reading and happy reviewing! Good luck!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Let's Review a Movie One Piece at a Time: The Script

Sometimes, reviewing a movie can be easier if you focus on only one aspect of the movie at a time. As a writer, you may have experienced critiquing how the story is told, and what characters say (and how they say it). It's time to harness that skill and look specifically at the script of a movie.

Pick a movie and stick to the movie as we carry out this series of exercises over the next few months. Watch the movie and ask yourself the following questions:

1. Is the script written well? Were there errors in syntax or grammar, and if there were any, were these appropriate to the character and/or setting?

2. How replete was cursing in the script? Was it necessary for the situation or scene? Was it characteristic of any of the characters or of the setting and plot in general?

3. Do the individual characters talk in character?

4. Is the writing appropriate to the setting, ESPECIALLY with regard to the time setting? This is especially problematic for period films, where screenplay writers try to bring the movie to the people by modernizing the dialogue - and effectively removing the atmosphere that the period film should have.

5. Is the script appropriate to the situation, or are smart-alecky, unnecessary lines running through the script?

These are only a few questions that you can ask yourself while carrying out your review. Remember, you will need to look only at the script and how it affects the movie, as well as how it is affected by the elements of the movie. Focus your work on the script and you can gain insight into how you, as a writer, can improve your craft.

Happy watching and happy reviewing!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Here's Why You Have to be Fearless

A writer must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid.”
- William Faulkner