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“You ask of my companions. Hills, sir, and the sundown, and a dog as large as myself that my father bought me. They are better than human beings, because they know but do not tell,” wrote poet Emily Dickinson. The way people react to animals can be very revealing. Pets are often flawless reflections …
Open a door or window. Write, for 10 minutes, about the first scene you see.
“Not yet.” Incorporate this line of dialogue into a story. What prompts a character to say these words? Contextualize what the phrase means. How does he or she arrive at this moment? What is the question that precedes the answer?
Diaries are fascinating documents of inner lives and history. Which famous historical figure, real or fictional, fascinates you? Is it Cleopatra? Bluebeard? Barack Obama? Pretend to be that person and write an entry in his or her journal.
Ernest Hemingway believed the “quality of a piece could be judged by the quality of the material the author eliminated.” His theory of omission, also called “the iceberg theory,” emphasizes that the core of a good story lies beneath the surface, like the mass of an iceberg. Revise a story, poem or essay …
Often we neglect the senses in our writing, especially in how much they can offer in terms of describing moods and emotions. • Write about the scent of happiness. • Write about the texture of anxiety. • Write about the sound of despair.
Write a character bio for an obscure character in your project. When you have given your all to uncover the fascinating, paradoxical qualities of this character, write a scene that reflects what you discovered.
Do robust aerobic exercise and sit down to write immediately after. Even if it’s just for 5 minutes. See what comes, and then use the most exciting line or moment you created as a jumping-off point for a scene. (You can write it after you shower!)
Write three pages of dialogue with two goals in mind: Make every word count, and don’t bore the reader. Now, take one line from one character and give it to the other character. Use that line as a starting point for a new scene.
Coming up with a first line can be one of the biggest challenges of writing. Use one, or all, of these first lines: • Charlene leaned closer to the stranger and asked him to repeat what he said. • I had been following the man with the tartan umbrella for more than an hour when …