Wild Words . . . Photos & Fine Art

Co-creating by heart with sandy cathcart through writers helps and art info, focusing on all things wild.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Fun and Rewarding Writing Exercise

Wow! Did we have fun in class tonight. Twenty students with twenty awesome dialogue scenes. I was so totally impressed. Beginning through advanced writers make up the class, and they all came up with wonderful stories. Amazing.

For some of you students and anyone else who would like to give this a try, choose one of the stories below (either Bugs or Bigfoot? or My First Example of Courage. Bugs or Bigfoot is a straight dialogue scene, sometimes a little harder to do than the one we did tonight. My First Example of Courage has some dialogue, some scene, some interior monologue, and a lot of narrative.

Before you begin, do the following:

(1) Choose two characters for yourself. They can be fictional or real. Give them names. Know their gender.(If you choose My First Example of Courage you also need an animal.)
(2) Choose a place. Set up the scene.
(3) Choose an event.

In other words. You have these two characters (who?) who are in a place (where?), doing what (what action?)

In Bugs or Bigfoot, I have myself and a doctor in a doctor's office, talking through an exam. In My First Example of Courage, I have myself and my father and my dog in a truck traveling down the road.

After you've chosen your people, place, and happening. Then copy the structure of your chosen story. Wherever your chosen story uses narrative, you do the same. Wherever there is dialogue, you do the same. Wherever there is a beat, put in a beat. Wherever there is a tag, put in a tag. Wherever there is interior narrative, you have your character think. You get the gist. Oh yeah, don't forget to make the scene from ONE character's viewpoint.

I bet you'll be surprised at what you come up with. You may have to set it aside for a while before you'll really see the worth. And no! This does not change your style or mess with it in any way. Twenty people in our class kept twenty styles by doing this. Each person kept their own flavor, but improved their structure.

This is especially helpful when you already have a project and you use characters you've already created. Several students are using their results in their current works. At least one of my students created an entire novel surrounding this one scene she wrote from this exercise.

Do this exercise several times with some of your favorite scenes written by your favorite authors. And, yes, it's okay to expand.

Have fun! And be sure to post in the comment section if you dare share!

More on courage tomorrow . . . yikes! It's after midnight . . . more on courage later today.


At 3:19 PM, Anonymous Brooke said...

This kind of relates, but kind of doesn't as well. It relates because it's about class, about a certain slack student in class who somehow did not turn in her white folders though they were right there ready to be turned in :-( So, I guess next week my white folders are going to be slightly bulging. I hope you're out somewhere enjoying the sunshine!!!
Love, Brooke

At 1:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

During my return home after class Thursday night I found myself exhilarated. Each student had been assigned a blank piece of paper, writing template and sweaty palms. We were to extract from some inner creative refuge a quick "scene" that modeled the excerpt given by our fearless teachers. And though it was generally quiet during the 30 minutes so mercilessly given our task I audibly heard the "wringing of words" that Mike Duran speaks of. But what was most gratifying were the 20 scenes that came out of that exercise. It was like receiving 20 little Christmas packages as we all read our "accomplishments." How delightfully fun! Thank you all fellow students for sharing, I entered and experienced so many different worlds and possibilites in a 40 minute span that it was almost like consuming an entire box of smooth, handmade, Belgian chocolates...without the weight gain, migraine or guilt!

At 11:51 AM, Blogger Sandy Cathcart said...

Ohhhhh, I like that . . . consuming all those chocolates without the weight gain. And that is such a perfect way to describe it. I was so jazzed after hearing everyone's stories. It will be fun to see what happens with each one.

And about that certain slack student . . . Arrgh! I'm so missing your writing!


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