Happy Friday, everyone! The weekend is almost upon us and I figured I'd give you a few things to do in your downtime that will help your writing skills. Just a little weekend fun to keep your writerly brain engaged and on target for the workweek ahead. I know you don't really want to think about Monday, but it behooves us all to be prepared. I'll begin by giving you the name of the exercise, and then move on to how you can accomplish it (and maybe have some fun, too). Grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going.
Exercise #1: Dialogue Dissection
Grab a friend or family member and chat with them. Be sure you have a recorder of some kind running (voice notes on an iPhone work great for this). Give yourself ten to fifteen minutes then shut the recording device off. End the conversation and move to a room where you can be alone. Play back the recording and recall what each of you were doing as you spoke. Mentally add commas and periods where you think they belong. Listen to it again. Pay attention to the words used, pronunciation, and inflection. Think about how you might write the conversation out. If you feel so inclined, you may do so; but, this is more of an exercise to get your brain thinking about dialogue in general.
Exercise #2: Title Trivia
Sit down with a friend or family member and grab a couple of sheets of paper or 3.5"x5" index cards. Cut them into pieces and have everyone write one word on each piece. Fold them up and throw them into a bowl. Take turns picking out two pieces and sticking them together. Pretend it's the title of a book and come up with a synopsis to support it. This is all verbal, so no need to write anything down (unless you hit upon the next great novel idea!).
Exercise #3: What's That Word?
This, again, is a two or more person game. Grab a sheet of paper and write down a sentence with at least ten words in it. Exchange with others. Now, try and come up with as many words as possible in place of the ones written. Whoever has the most variations (accurate ones) wins! Don't cheat and use a thesaurus! I find chocolate is a great motivator as a prize for this game.
Exercise #4: Acting Gone Awry
Take a character from one of your favorite novels and pretend to be them for the day. Respond to other people the way you think the character would, do things you think they would do, and really try to walk in their shoes. Take little notes as you go if you want. At the end of the day, reflect on your actions and try to flesh out the character in your head. Were there circumstances that made you wonder about the character's personality or how they would react or did it all flow very naturally? What part of the book let you know that? Use this knowledge the next time you're building your own characters (or when writing scenes of discovery).
Exercise #5: Cover Collection Craziness
Go online and take a look at other books in your genre. Save images of the covers. Print out a quick copy on regular paper or pull them up in a photo editing program. Make notes about what you like and don't like about each one. If you wanna get crazy, cut them up and glue together a whole new cover with some of the elements. Kids love this one.
These are just a few games you can play with your friends or family members to help you become a better writer. An added bonus is: You get to spend time with your loved ones while sharpening your skills!
Which one of these sounds the most fun to you?
Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!