It’s so important as a writer to learn and network with other writers. I recently joined a local writers group in Long Island called The Long Island Children’s Writers and Illustrators group (www.licwi.com). The author Caroline Bock was a guest speaker at one of the meetings and she has written such novels as LIE and Before My Eyes. http://www.carolinebock.com/. She recommended two great workshop exercises, adapted from Ron Carlson Writes a Story by Ron Carlson. For there will be times when you get stuck or have to conquer the oh so dreaded writer’s block, that to have these type of exercises available to flesh out one’s characters will help you strengthen your relationship with them. You want to know your characters so well that they are like a close friend. After completing these exercises, I found out things about my characters that I hadn’t even realized. You really need to know your characters (major and minor) inside and out in order to do them justice.
Take a stab at these writing assignments (don’t think of it as homework but more like a learning experience), and may they help breathe more life into your characters.
- Take a simple act, say unbuttoning a shirt, pulling on a sock, pouring a cup of coffee or milk, and write it in slow motion, that is, give it two-hundred words. Don’t automatically lapse into hyperbole (and thereby the comic), but think of the effect matter-of-fact, sinister, gross, full of touch, feel, sight and smell. Discus how the manner in which the character performs the act shapes his/her character.
- Write two-hundred words on a character entering a space (a car, a classroom, a kitchen, a backyard, etc.). Inventory all the sense of the space as she moves toward the one thing that she desperately wants in that space. Take your time and describe in detail what the character sees, hears, smells, senses and knows– and doesn’t know– about the surroundings. Discuss the character’s perceptions or point of view, and motivations that shapes this character.
Writer groups are a great way to share one’s work with others, get insightful critiques, as well as learn more about the publishing and marketing side of the business. Look up some writer groups in your area and there are also Meetup groups that cater to all different types of writing genres http://www.meetup.com/. Try a few out and see if you like them. There could be annual dues associated with some of these groups or they may request writing samples. Check them out and maybe see if you can attend one or two meetings as an observer to see if you are interested before committing to becoming a member.
Feel free to share any additional writing assignments that help you beat writer’s block and remember the best book is yet to be written. Happy Writing!