1. agentkilljoy_v
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    agentkilljoy_v Member

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    Writing techniques and exercises. Which ones do you use?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by agentkilljoy_v, Dec 6, 2011.

    I am curious as to what some of the techniques or exercises that individuals have used on this forum to develop their own style of writing. Here is a list techniques and exercises that I tend to use.

    1. The cut-up technique: This is a technique where a writer takes other text from sources like songs, newspapers, essays, stories, etc. Then rearranges them to create a whole new piece, I personally use song lyrics. What is great about this technique is that you can take multiple pieces and combine them together to create something new. You can even add and take away words of your choosing.

    2. Dream mixing: This is probably not the actual name for this technique but it is what I call it because so far as I know it, it’s something of my own invention. Take a dream journal and write down every detail of dreams that you can remember. Then simply take two or three of those dreams and combine together to create a story.


    3. Empathy for the characters: I believe that authors should have empathy for their characters. Otherwise the story can seem to lack emotional and philosophical value. Empathy for the characters simply involves the writer writing a story in first person as if they were the main character. Then going back through the story and rewriting everything in third person.

    4. Hardboiled setting: This is a technique utilize mostly by those who write crime fiction. I write horror so this technique appeals to me. Instead of going somewhere comfortable to write, go somewhere dirty, disgusting and literally distracting. Describe the sounds, the scents, the sights. If you’re not able to get out and about, simply find some horrific imagery on the internet and write about that instead.


    5. Solitaire exquisite corpse: No one would actually play this fun writing game with me so I came up with a version all my own. Take two writing techniques of your choosing and combine them together to create a paragraph. Now take two other writing techniques and combine them together to create another paragraph. Repeat until you feel you are finished.

    6. Automatic writing: It doesn’t matter if you believe in ghost or not. Automatic writing is a great way to get you into the flow of writing. Write down a question, then without looking at the keyboard or screen start writing. It works better if you close your eyes. Don’t worry about the misspelling words or grammar.


    7. Hypnotic/subliminal writing: This is really nothing special. Businesses use it in their advertisements all the time. Ever wonder why you get hungry when you see a billboard for fresh thin crust pizza that is hot out of the oven. Just imagine the mouth watering flavors of melted steamy cheese combined with all your favorite toppings. Bet you’re hungry for pizza now.
    The secret to this technique is knowing what key words should be used in the kind of fiction you write. I write horror so key words can include things like grotesque or even the word terrifying. Also believe or not repeating certain words or synonyms for words in your writing can actually send your reader into a trance.

    8. Soap boxing to minimalism: Soap boxing is literally ranting on a sheet of paper. Describing every detail to the extent to where it’s pretty obvious what has happened. Now simply go back and narrow the details so that what has happened is less obvious.

    9. Urban legend writing: Finally, I take urban legends and rewrite them in a new way. This similar is to what many call fan fiction. Accept that I don’t take from movies, books, or shows, although I am considering it.
     
  2. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    The only things I do to learn how to write well are to read good books and practice writing.

    The only thing I do to practice and develop my own style is to write, everyday.
     
  3. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I do exactly the same as Jhunter. Plus I read everything I can find (of quality) about writing.
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with Jhunter and Tesoro. I used to try to do writing exercises, when they were assigned in a writing course I took online, but I hate them. They take away from time actually writing, for one thing. For another, if you do enough writing, or have done enough writing in your life (I'm 50; I've done quite a bit), you find exercises mostly a waste of time.

    There comes a point at which musicians stop practicing scales and arpeggios and get down to actually playing music. Writing is the same way, only more so (hee hee), because it's not a physical virtuosity you're developing, it's a mental one. When you read the work of good writers, you learn to see what good sentences, paragraphs, scenes are like - the effects they have on the reader. And you strive to accomplish the same kinds of effects. Eventually, you strive to surpass the models you've studied. But you don't do it by exercises, you do it by actually writing the stories you're here on Earth to write.
     
  5. agentkilljoy_v
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    agentkilljoy_v Member

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    I do read everyday, and I do write everyday but one thing that I found was that I started writing like the authors I read. It seemed to be really boring. They are their own person and I am mine. I do view writing as a serious business but it should also be fun. You speak of sentence structures and the effects that others have on those who read them but what about the effect you have on others? Is this really self-expression or just repeating the same motions?
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't write like the writers I read, with the possible exception of the poet Robinson Jeffers. I love his stuff, and if I can get some of his rhythms into my prose, I'd be very happy. But I'm not consciously influenced, stylistically, by other writers, and that's the way I like it. Of course, I am influenced unconsciously by everything I read, just like everybody else. But doing writing exercises doesn't help me find my own voice. I find my own voice by writing my own stories. I think I have enough experience to sound like me and not the other authors I read, no matter how much I respect and admire them.

    And my subject matter isn't like that of anybody I admire. I actually think my subjects, and especially my take on my subjects, are pretty original. That's one of the things that motivates me to write in the first place.
     
  7. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    I don't write like my favorite authors at all. I write like myself. All I meant by what I said was that I read good books to see how talented people use the English language. I don't copy or steal someones style. And like I said in my second example earlier, I practice my own style by writing everyday.
     

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