Saturday, July 13, 2013

Writing Exercises

Dear Ashley,

I promised you a blog post about Goddard as soon as I returned, and I'm sorry I'm only just getting around to it. I've been busy- but I bought a car! I get to pick it up on Monday, and now when you're home visiting I don't have to work around Ben's schedule too to come and see you!

Anyway, Goddard.
I had so much fun- it was really great. I was nervous going in, but I got there and everyone in my G1 group (G1 because we're first semester Graduate students) was super friendly and awesome, and all of the staff and other students were as well. Everything was really nice- for a group of writers that was the only adjective that we could come up with to describe everything about Goddard- it's nice.

Jane Wohl is my adviser, and she's great. She's mostly a poet, but she also writes fiction, which is good because I'll never be a poet. She made us do poetry exercises at one of our group advising sessions, and mine were horrific. Here's an example of a lune (3 words, 5 words, 3 words) that I wrote:

Planted in egg
Cartons, like you're supposed to.
Dead tomatoes again.

or this one, (gardening was the theme I picked because I was worrying about my tomatoes. They are, in fact, dead.)

Forgot to spray
soap before we planted seeds.
Strawberry bugs, forever.

The workshops that I got the most out of were Reiko's. She's awesome, and I really want her to be my second adviser. I'd like to keep Jane for the first year, and develop a first draft of the novel, and then have Reiko rip it apart and make it better.

Her character exercise is like, the best thing in the world.

Pick a character. Do a whole page word cloud of things that describe them, without really thinking about it. Just write down everything. Oh, and leave enough space around your words.

Now, put a square around things that could change. Example: Insecure
Put a circle around things that are/could be a secret. My example: Dyslexic
Put a triangle around their strengths. Ex: Loyal
Put a squiggly cloud around their fears: Ex: Uneducated

So really, what your character wants is to overcome their fears and change. It was super helpful to me to write it all out, because I realized that my plot was in fears that I didn't necessarily know that my characters had.

What makes it even easier to plot it all out is to break the word cloud down into four questions.

1)What are their fears?
2) What are the qualities that create each fear?
3)What is the action each fear prompts?
4)Why is it important to the plot?

Another exercise that she gave us in that workshop was to take your character, and put them in an emotionally charged situation.
Then put them in a place where things will change.
Have them notice something that only that character would notice (you can learn a lot about your character doing this)
And put something in their hand (physically or metaphorically and ideally something that will work against them achieving what they want to in this scene)

Then free write and see where it goes.

I haven't tried this one yet, but it seems like it will be a good one.

I have to get ready to go to work now, but in my next post I'll write out the plot exercises that we did in Reiko's workshop called The Scene Doctor. I totally figured out what was wrong with my opening scene. Now I just have to find time to write the thing again and make it better.

Off to serve people drinks now.


PS- You should totally get a kitten. I vote yes.