I sure have missed blogging and interacting with you all over here. Though I can’t commit to posting regularly (my course load for my MFA is now much higher than before), I do still want to make this a place where writers can get new or at least renewed resources. Why else subscribe? Besides getting access to my free downloads, I mean.
Speaking of downloads, I added a link in the navigation so you can find them all in one place! Get there under Writer Resources in the main menu or by visiting larawillard.com/downloads
So I decided to start posting writing exercises every Friday on Twitter @LaraEdits and Facebook. I don’t want to post that often here on my blog, but I’d like to do a monthly roundup for you.
Here are the writing exercises from the past couple of weeks and the rest of October:
1: Latinate & Anglo-Saxon Diction
Switching between Latinate and Anglo-Saxon roots for different connotations:
Write down a list of 5–10 adjectives describing yourself or your protagonist. Look them up in the dictionary and see if they are based on Latin/French roots or Germanic (or Old English) roots. Then come up with a syllable that comes from the other family.
Source: Latinate vs Anglo Saxon Diction
Rewriting makes better writers, just like repainting makes better painters (see Hokusai below) Today’s is a long assignment, so feel free to just do number 8!
Assignment: Diction & Rewriting
3: Reimagined Lyrics
Pick a song with memorable lyrics. Look up those lyrics. Rewrite the song by swapping out the words and imagery for those of another character’s point of view. Some ideas:
- One of your characters
- Romeo, the lovestruck Shakespearean teenager
- A pothead (e.g. one of Cheech’s, Chong’s, or Seth Rogen’s portrayals)
- A proper British lady trying desperately to impress her in-laws
- A man who has been cryogenically frozen through several decades and just woke up
- A seven-year-old who wishes to be a princess
- A toddler
Source: What Pop Songs Teach Us about Voice
4: How old is your voice?
But my book is is full of sex and violence! How could you say it sounds middle grade?
- Take a scene or paragraph from your character’s point of view and see if it “sounds” the right age by checking it against these guidelines: https://larawillard.com/2016/02/25/when-voice-and-genre-dont-match/
- Then rewrite it as if the character were in a different age category.
5: Pirate Voices
Go to your local library and find a picture book—fiction, not nonfiction—about pirates. Read it aloud in a pirate voice. I recommend Pirates of the Sea by Brandon Dorman or Pirate Pete’s Talk Like a Pirate by Kim Kennedy. Can’t find a pirate book? Read Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and see how each of the baby owls has a different personality based on their dialogue.
You can stop there or write Talk Like a ___________ for a different profession. What would Talk Like a Podiatrist sound like?
6: Characters in Costume
Are you dressing up for Halloween? Would one of your characters? Take that costume, turn it into a character, and write a Trick or Treat scene from that point of view. Dressing up as a strawberry? Write it from the POV of a strawberry. What kind of observations does that character see? Is the weather foreboding or gleefully dreary? Does the character’s age affect how they see the event? Are they a creature or inanimate object? Use all five senses.