Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Writing Exercises

As all writers will know there are times when the mind just goes blank and words don't seem to flow. When it happens in the middle of a story I'm usually tempted to write on and them come back later and fix it- but sometimes this doesn't work as I prefer not to plan ahead too much, I'd rather let the characters and story lead me forward. When things aren't going well, writing on like this can kill a story. So, many times instead I'll either try another story- I have a big file of ideas and part-completed works- or else try a writing exercise.

Writing exercises come in various shapes or forms and you can easily Google up sites with dozens of them. Some don't appeal at all to me- write a personal ad, that sort of stuff. No, I'd much rather do one of the following:

1. Take a picture and write a plot/story around it. One of the reasons I have a big collection of jpegs on my PC. One variation around this that I'll do is to pick a picture of a gun and create a character/situation from it.
2. Grab a book off your shelf and take the first line or even paragraph and then start writing your own story to follow on.
3. Take a movie that you liked but which was flawed and do a re-write to fix the mistakes or take it in a different direction. Too many examples to list!

A new technique I've just discovered involves a book that a friend very generously gave to me at the weekend- Radio Times Guide to Science Fiction. It has a long list of obscure movies and serials in it with capsule descriptions of the plot- a team of deep space explorers discover a crazed killer amongst their number, for example- and I'm using those threadbare descriptions as jumping off points for my own stories. Very, very useful for those slow days when nothing seems to be going right.

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