1. intelli656
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    intelli656 New Member

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    Writing exercises please?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by intelli656, Apr 19, 2011.

    Hey all, I'm pretty new to the writing for something other than school thing but I want to be a better, more eloquent writer. I'm not writing a novel or anything, and I'm definitely not interested at the moment in serious brainstorming for a substantial fictional work. But I was wondering if there were any daily writing exercises that anyone knew of daily writing exercises that will make me a more fluid writer and help me with my expression, diction, description, etc.

    Btw I'm not a bad writer to begin with, but i havent really been instructed in writing other than with essays, and i just want something that i can do daily which will help me.
     
  2. Infinitytruth
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    Infinitytruth Senior Member

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    1. Type in word of the day, and write a couple sentences using that word.
    2. Write a short story then continue to critique it. Do this until you are completely, and totally satisfied with what you have written.
    3. Write your day. Be as detailed as possible. I tried this one and wound up with a whole new story.
    4. Try and desrcibe the emotions you are currently feeling. Be detailed as possible.
    5. Observe what you are observing now and write it. Detailed as posssible.

    Have fun with it. It'll definitely show in your writing.
     
  3. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Find a work you enjoy and that's considered good literature (trust me, there's something out there that qualifies, feel free to ask for recommendations if you're stumped). Then, every day, type out a portion of it. No joke, just like a monk, transcribe it. It's a good exercise to just experience what good sentences and prose feel like.

    A good book for writing 'how to' and exercises in The Scene Book. I only recommended it because of the exercises, they're really good and repeatable, and will often lead to stories.

    Another one I enjoy, but that's a bit advanced perhaps, is taking a scene from a movie and trying to write out the fiction equivalent. It's a good exercise to work with pacing, as you're trying to stay in time with the movie, so can't drop in a block of exposition. It's also good with learning to create pauses in dialog, both with actions and with internal thoughts/feelings/motivation of whichever character you decide to make your pov character. It also reinforced the need for this internal work, as if you just describe the movie, the fiction equivalent will seem very flat without trying to capture the emotions and feelings the characters are portraying.
     
  4. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Things which have worked for me in the past:

    There's the old 'writing up' exercise, where you pick a random sentence from a text, e.g. 'It was evening, on the promenade deck of an ocean liner' and then you expand this into a paragraph of up to 200 words.

    Or, there's the 'writing down' exercise, where you take a paragraph of about 200 words and try and get it down to one sentence.

    As you say you want to be 'eloquent', you could try a 1,000 word piece describing somewhere you have just been to for the first time, concentrating particularly on the sights, sounds, and smells. If you can't think of anywhere: go out somewhere new! Do some research by visiting a street market, sports club, day care centre, whatever...

    Or you could write a short piece starting from a situation like: 'The letter was in a plain brown envelope.'

    Good luck with your writing.
     
  5. Serieve
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    Serieve Member

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    If you frequent Asian restaurants or just like to buy fortune cookies, collect the fortunes and use them as prompts. Some fortunes that I've collected:
    • All great things had small beginnings.
    • Wise men learn more from fools than fools from the wise.
    • Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.
    • Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.

    Similarly, you can collect advertisements or the messages on Dove chocolates or the jokes they've started printing inside the packages of that one brand of gum (Extra?). You might be surprised by what you find.

    EDIT: All right, it's 1:00 in the morning and I just confused myself terribly. You want something daily and instructive, not something to spark creativity. Let me think...

    EDIT2: So I made Google think for me--it's 1:00 in the morning!

    I chose a few daily exercises listed by this person named Mariana Ashley and rephrased them:
    • Keep a Dream Journal--basically, have a journal by your bedside, and whenever you awaken from a dream, write the dream down and capture it in as much detail as best you can. Ideally, you should write in this journal immediately after you wake up (dreams tend to fade if you don't pin them down a.s.a.p.), but don't worry about making sense of the dreams or putting them into some sort of story--just write them the way you remember them, and revisit the journal later.
    • Image Prompt--Ms. Ashley says to use Google, which is an excellent source for images, but I think that Flikr and other image sites are also great. Find an image you like and use it as a prompt, either to inspire a story or just as practice with description. If you detect a feeling behind the image, try to incorporate that, too.
    • Write a Sticky Note Memory--each day, write about a memory that comes to you for any reason, but write it entirely on one sticky note. The idea is to say as much as you can in as few words as possible, so that you'll be challenged to cut out clutter and find words that do a lot of work (strong verbs will help tremendously). Even if you think it can't be done, just try it! You might have to spend a lot of time thinking or go through a lot of sticky notes...
    The way I started writing was through fanfiction. I was lucky enough not to know that I should worry about writing style or characterization or anything writing related. I just thought it would be fun and started writing. Perhaps there is something to that? It might be a good exercise to think of some fantasy you've had about a TV series or movie or video game, and write it out. (Maybe your favorite character died, or some romantic couple you were rooting for didn't work out?) Thus, you have a pre-made world and characters to explore, and your focus is more on the actual writing and less on the plot/characters/setting/whatever.

    (Hopefully that's a bit more helpful to you...)
     
  6. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    You could write for say ten minutes every day, about anything, even if you don't know what to write, write that and something good might come out of it.

    Another exercise is to take a line from a book, and then carry it on. For example, if there was the line 'The man walked down the alleyway, clutching his stomach.' then you would continue it on with whatever came into your head.

    You could also think of a place, can be real or a fictional place you know, and describe it as well as you can. This is purely so you can create a vivid setting with detail.

    One exercise I've done is to write about a spider and you get into how it crawls and tickles the hairs on your skin etc. so you can really explore all the senses. Obviously you don't have to do it with a spider though.

    Also, you could take a news story and turn it into a fictional piece, imagining what the people effected are feeling, describing the setting as much as you can etc. Or just using the news story as a prompt to create your own story.
     
  7. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    Keep an "Idea Box" where you can put any idea you have. For me, it's a word document entitled "Idea Box", but some people have a journal with them at all times that they use to write down ideas. (I actually use my phone to record my ideas, and then I go back and listen to them and type them into Word.)

    Whenever something catches your interest anywhere at any time, write it down. For example, I was at the mall yesterday and this guy walked in wearing a white suit and a white cowboy hat. Totally out of place. OR, I went for a run the other day and saw a pheasant run into a bush, but because it was twilight my imagination went crazy and I originally thought it was some crazy alien with two skinny legs. The hardest part is actually realizing when things catch your interest, because usually we're so caught up with it we don't wonder if it could possibly be used for a story.

    Once you have an Idea Box, you can keep them saved up for ideas in whatever project your working on, or even take a few and use it as a prompt.
     
  8. chacotaco91
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    chacotaco91 Senior Member

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    What do y'all think gives the best improvement? At the moment, I'm just randomly writing chapters for a book that is only half-realized, and I have no conventions will probably ever see the light of day. So is this a good way to increase my skills, and practice the art? Should I instead do many of the exercises I see up here? Some sound very good, and challenging, so I'm not sure.
     
  9. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    I started writing a book I didn't think could ever see the light of day, I wrote it one scene at a time and then finally put it all together and filled in the holes. I didn't write anything else for 3 years, and now my writing is 10x better and I think I have a shot at getting published. That, I think, is the ultimate writing challenge, taking your story and trying to complete it. If you want to continue doing that, you will benefit the most.

    Writing exercises are for people that 1) need a break from what they are writing, 2) don't have the patience just yet to attempt to finish a complete a story, or 3) literally have nothing else to write and need something to get them started.

    If you don't need to take a break from a story you enjoy writing, have the patience to keep working on it, and aren't suffering from some kind of writer's block, I'd say keep writing your story. As long as you are writing. Exercises are mostly just to get people writing.

    That said, there are plenty of writing exercises that can help you build your current story, particularly ones based on your characters. You can interview your characters, asking questions like, "What was your childhood like?" to "What's your favorite food and why?". You can put them in situations they wouldn't be exposed to in the context of your story and see how they would react. What would your Tolkeinian Ork do if he stepped in a McDonalds, or whatever. You can have two of your characters argue over something, whether it be politics or what pizza topping is better.

    Exercises that help you with your story, in my opinion, are much better than random writing prompts, although random prompts will still help you in general. Don't get me wrong; you might get some really cool ideas from a random exercise that you could spin into your current story or could spin into a story all on its own.
     
  10. intelli656
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    intelli656 New Member

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    thanks everyone
     

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