Writing Exercises

Writing exercises are always an interesting way to stimulate new ideas and hone your writing skills.  Most exercises provide an idea or concept, then you develop a story using the provided guidelines. 

Some of these exercises were fun, so I decided to share my drafts.  Notice that I use the word 'drafts'.  One of the key concepts for any exercise is to allow the imagination to go wild and not worry about spelling, grammar and formatting. I encourage you to give some of these exercises a try.


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Develop Characters through a Situation

Scene:  A man and a woman are sitting across from each other at a small table in a dimly lit restaurant.

  • Tell why the two are in the restaurant from either the man or woman’s point of view.
  • How does the restaurant look?
  • How does the other person look?
  • What are the sounds, smells, colors that this man (or) woman will notice? 

Word Count: 400-600 words.  Don't worry about it being word perfect.  Don't do any heavy editing.

Read my Story: The Vegan Ribeye




Develop Reader Empathy

Scene:  A middle-age man or woman is waiting at a bus stop. He/she has just learned that his/her son, who was in a terrible accident, is on the way to the hospital and has life-threatening injuries."

  • Describe the setting from the man/woman's point of view WITHOUT telling your reader what has happened.
  • How will the street look to this man/woman?
  • What are the sounds - Odors - Colors - that this man/woman will notice? 

Word Count: 400-600 words.  Don't worry about it being word perfect.  Don't do any heavy editing.

Read my Story: The Bus Stop





Develop Characters that are Interesting

  • Make the scene, character and situation believable.
  • Give the character one or more unusual characteristics or habits.
  • Make your main character(s) desire something, and make the desire their driving force. Think about why they can never have what they want.  

Word Count: 500-700 words.  Don't worry about it being word perfect.  Don't do any heavy editing.

Read my Story: Sleeping on the Job




Develop a scene and situation from the picture

Use the following National Geographic picture as the basis for your story.  Bring your story and yellow and pink highlighter to the next meeting. At the meeting, we'll pass the stories around and let the reviewer highlight with yellow every passive verb and with pink every adverb or adjective. Then during the discussion phase, the reviewers will recommend 2 or 3 ways to possibly make the story stronger.
National Geographic Picture

Word Count: 300-500 words.  Don't worry about it being word perfect.  Don't do any heavy editing.

Read my Story: A Blessed Family



Develop an interesting story using the six senses from the picture

We all understand the importance of “show, don’t tell” in creating interesting stories that grab the reader’s attention. Telling is summarizing. It gives the readers the bare facts, with little to no illustration. Showing is elaborating. It gives the readers the details of a scene, including what the character(s) are seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling, thinking, and feeling emotionally.

Word Count: 300-500 words.  Don't worry about it being word perfect.  Don't do any heavy editing.

Read my Story: The Blind Date



Show-Don't Tell - Engage the reader in your story using the picture

We all understand the importance of bringing the reader into your story. How many times have you started a book only to stop reading because you didn't like the characters or the situation or you just felt you couldn't relate.  The sooner you can engage (involve) a reader into your story, the more they will like it. Whether it is the scene, the characters, the plot, or a combination of these elements, something has to draw the reader in so they want to turn the page. 

Word Count: 300-500 words.  Don't worry about it being word perfect.  Don't do any heavy editing.

Read my Story: Mountain Biking




Create Believable Scenes and Characters using the holiday picture

The sooner you can engage (involve) a reader into your story, the more they will like it. Whether you use the senses, the scene, the characters, or a combination of all three, something needs to draw the reader in so he/she want to turn the page.


Word Count: 300-500 words.  Don't worry about it being word perfect.  Don't do any heavy editing.

Read my Story: Christmas Morning




Create an Interesting Situation from the picture

 

Draw the reader into your story using the photo below as your inspiration.  If you would rather write a poem or children's story, that is fine. When you have finished the draft, ask yourself if the reader could experience what you felt without seeing the photo.  



Word Count: 400-600 words.  Don't worry about it being word perfect.  Don't do any heavy editing.

Read my Story: This Time will be Different





Using this picture, develop a Scene and Situation


Establish a scene and situation using the above picture. What are the sounds, smells, colors that this girl will notice and why?  What does the world look like to her?


Word Count: 400-600 words.  Don't worry about it being word perfect.  Don't do any heavy editing.

Read my Story: Just Your and Me Teddy




The Greyhound Bus Exercise

The Exercise: Write a scene that begins on a Greyhound bus heading west through the Mojave desert. There is nothing except cacti as far as the eye can see in any direction. In the middle of this flat, barren land is an intersection. The bus stops. A rider gets off.


Word Count: 400-650 words.  Don't worry about it being word perfect.  Don't do any heavy editing.

Read my Story: You Need to Return to Your Seat





Unless otherwise noted, all works appearing on this website are copyright © Bruce Gaughran