writing exercise

Another Writing Exercise

Posted on

I wrote this snippet of backstory for my character, Rebecca.   It may never be in the final draft, but writing a short scene helps me deepen my characters.  After I wrote my rough draft, I put this piece into the  The Hemingway Editor.  This editor highlights adverbs, confusing sentences and when you used the passive voice.  I found it very helpful.

tiny floralswirl2

Glass shattered. Rebecca startled awake.  They’re fighting again.  She looked over at her bedside clock. It was 1:57 am.  She heard the sound of angry voices from the kitchen, but couldn’t understand what her parents were saying.  Rebecca gripped her pink sheets and turned to her five-year old sister, who was curled up on the other side of the bed.

“Amelia, are you awake?” she whispered.

“Yes.” Amelia whimpered.

Rebecca moved closer to her sister and snuggled her close to her body.  “It’ll be OK.” Rebecca said soothingly, though her eyes burned and her lip quivered. Amelia sniffled.  I hate that it has to be this way.

Rebecca heard more incoherent yelling and a feminine scream followed by a loud crashing noise. Why does she let him treat her that way?  Rebecca was used to nights like these.  When she was younger she used to cry as her parents fought, but now she only cowered, berating herself for not being stronger, for not defending her mother.  But, what can I do? He’ll just beat me if I try to stop him.  A door slammed shut. Then a car started and sped away.  Rebecca hugged Amelia tighter.  The house was silent for a moment.  Then Rebecca heard the hum of the T.V and her mother’s stifled sobs.

Getting to Know your Characters

Posted on Updated on

I’ve found that writing a scene from your work-in-progress can help develop your characters.  It doesn’t have to be exactly what will be in the final draft, but it can give you an idea of how your character acts.  Here’s what I wrote today to get to know my protagonist.

tiny floralswirl2

It was morning. Nathaniel woke up, earlier than usual, even though he was already an early riser.  He got dressed and went outside to the bonfire area, and sat on one of the logs, which were used as chairs.  The remains of last night’s bonfire were left in the fire pit. Nathaniel started to pray his morning prayers, when his eye caught a notebook lying abandoned on the log next to him.  The cover was filled with artistic swirls that looked hand drawn. The artist had some skill.  Nathaniel walked over, and flipped through it, looking for a name inside, but couldn’t find one.  He felt strangely drawn to it.  He didn’t know if it was the appeal of the art, or simply the mystery of it.

The first page had a realistic sketch of a girl.  He vaguely recognized her. Her hair was loosely curled, dark brown with thin caramel streaks.  She was sitting in a moderately suggestive way.    Under the drawing the artist wrote in feminine handwriting: Broken. Seeking love.  There was also a sketch of a bleeding heart, with many keys stabbing into it.  The artist used dark colors.  Nathaniel flipped the page, still entranced.

The next page was in stark contrast to the one before.  It was filled with springtime colors, and a sketch of a cute red-haired girl.  Her eyes looked lively, and her crooked smile was sincere.  Under her, were the words: Naive.  Life may be a sad surprise. The bottom was filled with swirly bird sketches.

Don’t read the rest. He thought to himself.  He flipped the page, and was surprised to find a drawing of himself.  Under his picture were the words: Strong.  Will make a girl happy one day.  He stared at these unspoken compliments and wondered who said them. He suddenly felt very intrusive.  These were the artist’s secret thoughts, and here he was reading them.  The artist must be a girl.

He flipped to the very end of the book, and at the bottom of the page, in small cursive letters it read: Rebecca.  He remembered meeting Rebecca.  She was a quiet girl, and very pretty. She had long straight blonde hair and sad brown eyes.  He was overfilled with a strong urge to know her.

He flipped to another page, written on it was a poem:

Sadness overfills

Salty tears fall down my face

Broken hearted girl 

Was this poem about herself? Or someone else?  He was impressed by the artist’s eloquence. Attraction flickered in his heart. He wanted to comfort her. Don’t think about her. She’s not an option. Not now. She’s only seventeen.

He flipped to a page with a sketch of Ignatius. He looked handsome, with a fake smile and sad eyes.  He looks broken. I never saw that in him. Under him were the words: Searching.  Aching for truth amidst the lies.

He closed the notebook quickly and took it inside the cabin.  He was still thinking of her.

 

Practicing Perspective

Posted on

Writers should always be practicing their writing skills.  In Building Fiction, by Jesse Lee Kercheval, there is an interesting writing exercise.  It is to write a scene from a few different perspectives. I think this is a good exercise, especially if you are writing a book with multiple point of view characters.

When I do this exercise, I don’t worry about revising; I just let the writing flow, and focus only on the perspective.

Here is an example I wrote:

Calliope held the phone in her hand.  She thought of calling her sister, Bec.  Bec was thirteen years older than her, and they always had a somewhat distant relationship.

She dialed her number quickly.  The phone rang three times, and Calliope thought of hanging up.

“Hello” a perky voice on the other line said.

“Uh, hi.  This is Callie. How are you?”

“Oh! Callie, my little sister! I’m so glad you called!  We haven’t talked in forever!”

“Um, yeah we should catch up.”

“By the way, why didn’t you come to my wedding? It was so magical!  The bridesmaids looked so pretty, in that deep purple. And the food was so good.  We had a barbeque.  I know that’s not common wedding food, but it was really fun.” Bec said cheerily.

Callie was silent for a minute.  “Oh, I wish I could have come!”  she said pretending that she really wanted to go.

But in reality, she had chosen not to go, because prom was on the same day as her sister’s wedding.  Bec lived in another state, and there was no way she could be in both places at once.  Calliope had been asked to go by a cute guy, who she had liked since her freshmen year of high school.  She was a senior, now and wouldn’t have another opportunity to go to a prom again.   She knew this decision was very selfish, but she really, really wanted to go!

“Oh, well, Johnny and I are so happy!  You should visit us sometime; we have the cutest little country home!  I just love it!” Becca said enthusiastically.

“Yes, I want too.” Calliope said, this time sincerely.

“So, how’s school?” Becca said in her older sister way.

“It’s good.  I really love my history teacher. He’s so great.  I think I’m one of his favorite students” she said proudly.

“Well, I’m so glad…. Sorry,  I have to go.  Johnny and I are going somewhere tonight. Goodbye! I’ll call you soon!” Bec said quickly.

“Bye” Calliope hung up the phone. Becca’s cheerful sweetness made her feel guilty for not coming to her wedding.

She looked at her vibrant red prom dress, which somehow didn’t look so pretty anymore, and sighed.  Somehow I’ll make it up to her, she thought.

Then, I wrote the same scene from Bec’s point of view:

Bec was working on her editing jobs. She started working from home after she married her husband a few months ago.  The phone rang loudly and she ran to the kitchen to get it.  She felt a pang of sadness when she saw her sister’s name on the phone. She remembered how sad she was when she realized Calliope wasn’t at her wedding.  They were 13 years apart and they had a somewhat distant relationship, despite Bec’s attempts to be friendly to her little sister.

“Hello” Bec said perkily.

“Uh, hi.  This is Callie. How are you?”

“Oh! Callie, my little sister! I’m so glad you called!  We haven’t talked in forever!” her voice became happier. I wonder if she’ll explain why she didn’t come to my wedding.

“Um, yeah we should catch up.”

“By the way, why didn’t you come to my wedding? It was so magical!  The bridesmaids looked so pretty, in that deep purple. And the food was so good.  We had a barbeque.  I know that’s not common wedding food, but it was really fun.” Bec said cheerily, hoping her sister would catch the happiness in her voice and chat more openly.

Callie was silent for a minute.  “Oh, I wish I could have come!” she said wistfully. She’s hiding something, Bec thought.

“Oh, well, Johnny and I are so happy!  You should visit us sometime; we have the cutest little country home!  I just love it!” Bec said enthusiastically.

“Yes, I want too.” Calliope said sincerely. Well, at least she wants to visit me.

“So, how’s school?” Bec said in her older sister way.

“It’s good.  I really love my history teacher. He’s so great.  I think I’m one of his favorite students” she said proudly.

“Well, I’m so glad” Then the door opened and Johnny stood in the doorway. Bec smiled sweetly at him. “Sorry Callie, I have to go.  Johnny and I are going somewhere tonight.  Goodbye! I’ll call you soon!” She finished quickly.

“Bye” Calliope said.

 

Here are some writing prompts for writing a scene from different perspectives:

Write the scene from the point of view of an insane person.

Write the scene from the point of view of a child.

Write the scene from the point of view of a man.

Write the scene from the point of view of a woman.

Write the scene from the point of view of an inanimate object (Ex. a chair or a table) or an animal or plant.