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In his memoir On Writing, Stephen King warns, “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” Print the first five pages of your work in progress and cross out every adjective and adverb. Do the sentences still convey the right meaning? How can you add nouns and verbs to do the heavy lifting?
In a paragraph or two, describe an event from your character’s point of view, perhaps a dinner with a friend, a walk in the park or a neighborhood-watch meeting. Write about the event again from a new emotional point of view—anger, delight, hope, detachment or despair.
Imagine your protagonist looking at childhood pictures of your antagonist. What details stand out that make your protagonist truly empathize with the other? Do the same exercise reversing the characters.
Write quickly without pausing for 10 minutes. Then write for 10 minutes as slowly as you can. Compare exercises to find the strengths of each approach. Write a new scene inspired by that discovery.
Grab a snippet of overheard conversation from a coffee shop, library or bus. Use it to start a dialogue between two of your characters.
A backwoods setting. A dirt road. A white knuckler. You’re at the wheel. What’s the story?
To kick off the maniacal month of October, write a short short story about someone succumbing to one of the seven deadly sins. With a character motivated by greed, envy, laziness, gluttony, wrath, pride or lust, how can you quickly set the scene and get inside of the reader’s head? Focus on visuals and a defining …
A work of art can be a powerful tool for building character and developing motivation for actions. A good place to start is at a museum or sculpture garden. Choose a work of art and build a character around it. The character can reflect a work of art in qualities – a poker-faced Mona Lisa …
Take a scene from your work-in-progress and rewrite it in another genre. How would you write this scene if it were hard-boiled crime fiction, steampunk, paranormal romance or chick lit? This writing prompt was written by Rochelle Melander, author of Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It). *For more tips …
A weekly writing exercise to get you started.