Archive for the Category »Thurday Tip Jar «

 

Anyone that wants to write, whether it be a screenplay or a romance novel, should focus on one thing above all else…writing. That being said, a great way to do this is writing exercises. Writing exercises are actually good for everyone really, not just people who want to write for a living, so each Thursday I am going to add one writing exercise tip to the tip jar, in order to get those creative juices of yours flowing

Character writing exercise

One of the most common mistakes with writers is their inability to make their characters unique. They all talk the same, react the same way, say the same words yada, yada, yada. Do people sound the same? Does a 90 year old man who survived through wars and depressions have the same thought processes and word usage as a thirteen year old girl having boy issues? NO!

There are a wide range of speech patterns, vocabulary and thought processes that must be considered when writing about a particular character. A man raised in the Hollywood hills will not understand how it feels to live in the projects of Haiti. As a writer you must thoroughly place yourself in the shoes of your character, learn why they think the way they do so you can predetermine what they will say in result of a celebration or a catastrophe.

To better grasp the way certain people would react to a given situation or what sort of vocabulary they respond with, we have the Character Exercise. Take an event, any event. A bar mitzvah, car accident, Super Bowl, the Kentucky Derby, whatever you want, just get an event in mind. Now pick three or four characters and have them describe the event. Maybe they are being interviewed, or simply recounting the tale to a best friend. Write a dialogue from the point of view of each character. For example: If the Kentucky Derby was in progress, a woman on Millionaires Row, sipping her mint julep may be tired of the races after her horse lost in the 2nd race. A little boy may be sitting on his dad’s shoulders in the infield, watching the race for the very first time, memorizing the dirt spraying from the horses hooves and the sounds of the people cheering or the infamous bugle call. An elderly man however, could be sitting next to his cronies too high for their old reumy eyes to make out the numbers, the hard seat digging into his aching body, simply ready to go home.

Experience with different words, try using some slang for a teenager, some broken english for a foreigner… and always do your research. It’s the worst thing for a reader to find a mistake in a novel and refuse to read another sentence.

But of course, make sure to have fun!

 

(Writing exercise previously published on Examiner.com – Copyright belongs to Jessica Hastings)

 

Anyone that wants to write, whether it be a screenplay or a romance novel, should focus on one thing above all else…writing. That being said, a great way to do this is writing exercises. Writing exercises are actually good for everyone really, not just people who want to write for a living, so each Thursday I am going to add one writing exercise tip to the tip jar, in order to get those creative juices of yours flowing
Winter writing exercise

It’s winter and in much of the USA snow is covering the ground like a fresh blanket of cotton stretched out and laid upon the land. Slowly, but surely the snow will melt and spring flowers will arise.

We shouldn’t let the winter run from us without drawing an exercise from it’s chilly season. So, in honor of the snow let’s do a prompt that will exercise our memory as well as encourage us to experiment with the use of detail.

When writing a novel, detail is crucial. A writer must reveal a scene through showing the reader the intricate details that create the scene, not just telling them what’s going on. This exercise will help us sharpen our eye for details and can also help us better understand our characters.

Today, write about the first time you saw snow as a child, or your favorite childhood memory of snow. If you were an adult when you first saw snow than imagine how different it would have been if you were a child. If you have never seen snow before, than write what you dream it might be like. Can you feel the bite of the wind on your nose? Are your fingers numb from throwing snowballs? Did you go sledding? What was it like to catch snowflakes on the tip of your tongue? Did you accidentally touch the infamous yellow snow?

Describe the experience in as much detail as possible. Don’t tell what happened, show what it was like.

When your done go enjoy the snow. Make snow angels, throw snowballs, ride a sled and enjoy the opportunity to live life to the fullest capacity. Be safe too.

(Writing exercise previously published on Examiner.com – Copyright belongs to Jessica Hastings)

Writing exercises are to inspire and motivate. For all those people who aspire to create, who aspire to master something they, themselves have written. writing exercises are there to help you get in the zone of your writing, to get your creative juices flowing and pry open the jaws of your elusive muse. So read on and exercise your brain to it’s fullest capacity. Go where no man has gone before; your imagination…

 

New Years Resolutions Writing Exercise

This week the year is coming to a close. Our journey into 2011 is beginning and many of us are preparing to pull up a chair, grab a pen and paper and begin the age old tradition of writing resolutions for the New Year.

What do your resolutions look like? Are they the same old; lose weight, start a new hobby, be a better person, stuff from last year? Why not try something a little different? Why not aim your resolutions at your writing career?

Your writing exercise for this week is to write your resolutions for the new year and have them pertain only to your writing. How about consistently making time for your writing? Do you have some unfinished novels? Make time to finish at least one book. What about that book list you have that seems to keep growing and never diminishes? Read more. Are you writing in the laundry room for lack of space? Find a place to write. Create an inspirational place to write. Do you keep suffering from writer’s block? Determine why and find a solution to your personal writer’s block. Are you sitting around with un-submitted manuscripts? Submit your work for publishing. Are you growing tired of your writing style or running out of new ideas? Try a new genre. If you’re a screenwriter, try poetry. You can add certain skills you want to master; characterization, plot creations, or editing for example.

Do you want to be really unique? Try writing your resolutions out in the form of a poem, short story or article. Let your mojo flow and your creative juices start the new year off right.

Whatever your resolutions may be, make a definitive plan on how you will accomplish these ideas. Don’t give up. Keep your mind on the target and push yourself to reach these goals. You can start small; write three pages a day, get paid for something I write. Or you can go big; make New York Times best sellers list, win HUGO or RITA award. Don’t sell yourself short this year. Dream big and remember these words of advice: Shoot for the moon and even if you miss, you will land among the stars.

Happy New Year folks!

 

To milk this holiday season for all it’s worth, I figured a couple of writing exercises revolving around Christmas ought to do the trick. Now if you are not a Christmas celebrator, you can still participate in these exercises…substitute the Christmas tree in the second exercise for a Menora if your Jewish, or write about Christmas through the eyes of someone who doesn’t believe if that is your choice. No matter what your race, religion, or background…You are a writer first and foremost. Writers are diverse, flexible and above all students. Writers are taught new things everyday, if they are wise enough to learn. Writers are investigators, taking in every detail of their surroundings and bringing it through to paper. And right now it’s the holiday season, so whether you like Christmas or not, it is still a part of the world around you and every great writer would be remiss if they didn’t grasp at the opportunity to create something wonderful from something that draws from their emotions, whether they are favorable or not.

So in lieu of the holidays, here are two writing exercises to get those mojo juices flowing and banish that evil writer’s block from existence.

The Christmas Carol Exercise

We all know Charles Dickens classic story “A Christmas Carol”. Countless movies and books recount his mastery of prose and the creativity in which he managed to merge his past with an imaginative world of fantasy. Why not follow his example? Why not write our own version of “A Christmas Carol?”

This Christmas let us attempt a writing exercise that will allow us to include our writing in the goings on of the holiday season. If Christmas is not something you participate in, than feel free to substitute and try the exercise around another holiday, like Hanukkah for example.

Now, write a Christmas ghost story in the style of Charles Dickens. Your story can be an attempt to bring the Christmas Spirit back to someone who needs it. Substitute Dickens “Ebenezer Scrooge” for a soldier, sailor, politician, child, or even a couple. Maybe a young couple is planning a wedding next year and has been consumed by all the planning to such an extent that they have forgotten the reason for the season. Their marriage is destined for failure until a ghost (or two, or three) visits and reveals the way back to the true Christmas spirit as well as revealing how far they had deterred from their early days of love and passion. You can set your story in a time period of your own choosing, whether it is the historical Wild West or the futuristic 2030.

Make your story unique and give it a few plot twists all your own. Maybe the ghost isn’t revealed as an actual ghost until the end of the story. You can have the ghost be a close friend from a distant state or country that had died years ago and your character had been so consumed in their own life that they hadn’t even known about the death of their close friend.

Play around with the exercise and don’t try too hard to compare yourself to Charles Dickens. It won’t work. Write as if you are writing for your eyes alone!
 The Christmas Tree Writing Exercise

The days before Christmas are hectic; wrapping presents, purchasing last-minute gifts, baking cookies, cooking turkeys, hanging lights, and the list goes on and on and on. We all know that story. We all recount the craziness, joy, frustration, peace etc. of Christmas every year. We tell stories of past years and explore the differences we plan to make next year that never happen. All of this is a familiar story to all of us.

But, what about the Christmas Tree? Have you ever wondered what stories a Christmas Tree would tell? The anxious waiting as people peruse the rack of trees beside you, wondering if you will be picked next. The excitement of being chosen and placed in a new warm and inviting home. After you are decorated with baubles and bows, are you excited or ashamed as people sit and stare at you for hours? Are you frustrated when someone prods your boughs or sticks boxes by your trunk? Do you stand as a sentinel over a sleeping child? Or watch in horror as a couple fights and argues? What do you see? What do you feel? What are you thinking?

Tell the story of a Christmas Tree. Manipulate the story into any direction you desire it to go. Does a house fire threaten the existence of your tree? Is your story about the sad tree from your local store that is discarded after Christmas? You can turn the exercise into a collection of stories about the lonely Christmas Tree locked away in an attic who discovers another world, and in doing so embarks on countless adventures unbeknownst to everyone. Write from the perspective of a Christmas Tree and see where your story leads you.

The world is your playground. Go run, play, skip, and jump. Fly if you can expand your wings. Don’t hold yourself back; let your imagination run rampant.

“I must Create a System or be enslaved by another Man’s. I will not Reason & Compare: my business is to Create.” -William Blake

Above all folks…I wish you all a Merry Christmas.
Don’t forget to check out our current giveaways for Wolf Fever and Pemberley Ranch.

 

Anyone that wants to write, should focus on one thing above all else…writing. It doesn’t matter if you want to be a song writer or an author…you have to write to be a writer. That being said, a great way to do this is writing exercises. Writing exercises are actually good for everyone really, not just people who want to write for a living, so each Thursday I am going to add one writing exercise tip to the tip jar, in order to get those creative juices of yours flowing.

 

The Memoir Writing Exercise

Now don’t let the title of this exercise scare you. I am not asking you to write a memoir…though that may be the outcome. You see, I have some inspiration for this exercise and I am going to share it with everyone. If you are writer, you can consider this a sort of prompt to get you going; if you are a journalist, you can use this as practice for interviewing styles; if you are reader, you can begin to write with this exercise; regardless of who you are or why you need this…this exercise is for you.

Today, I am attending my great-grandmother’s funeral. She was a remarkable woman who lived to the ripe age of 97 and will continue to live on in our hearts. A couple of weeks ago, I saw her for the last time at our Thanksgiving family reunion. (I know you don’t want to hear my family stuff, but bear with me…it will be worth it) During the reunion I sat with Grandmother and listened to her stories: How she met Grandfather, raising her kids, living through the Great Depression, living through two world wars…And she, along with many family members, asked me if I was ever going to write a book about the family. I remembered the stories and continued to think about the idea of writing a story about our family. Grandmother was the last of her line and I simply knew it would be fantastic to name the book after her and begin it with her. For years I have been throwing around the idea of writing a book about my family. I let semantics keep me from doing so.

I worried about the details instead of the need for the story. I worried about whether it should be biographical fiction, or a sort of non-fiction memoir. I was consumed with not knowing truly where to begin and how to get to the end I wanted. Now my opportunity to learn more from Grandmother has passed. I only have what I all ready knew, and that is left to my own memory of the retellings.

Which brings me to your challenge. Get a story from a family remember and write it. Seems simple to some and more difficult to others. If you don’t have family to ask, you can write a fictional tale of an elderly relative telling stories to some children, or someone on their death bed telling family secrets that no one would have ever known otherwise…or something along those lines. If you do have family, don’t let this amazing moment pass you by. You would be surprised how many great books and movies began with a grandparent telling stories to a little child, who ran with it. The greatest tip of all, the greatest lesson you can learn…is how to listen. You can not succeed with this exercise if you do not listen to what others are saying. A great lesson for journalists, an invaluable lesson for writers. Writers, of fiction and non-fiction, need to learn to listen or they wont hear the muse of the world speaking to them. So this week, today, right now…Listen to someone’s story and put it to paper. Maybe, just maybe, you will end up with a memoir…or the inspiration to start one.

So, enjoy your day, cherish the moments and above all…

Write on!

 

Anyone that wants to write, should focus on one thing above all else…writing. It doesn’t matter if you want to be a song writer or an author…you have to write to be a writer. That being said, a great way to do this is writing exercises. Writing exercises are actually good for everyone really, not just people who want to write for a living, so each Thursday I am going to add one writing exercise tip to the tip jar, in order to get those creative juices of yours flowing.

First Sentence Writing Exercise

The most important part of a novel is the first sentence. The first line has the power to make or break it for a reader. It portrays the entire grip of the story in just a few short words.

For his book titled Hooked, Les Edgerton interviewed literary agent Julie Castiglia who said, “That first sentence and paragraph immediately draws one into the story and makes it impossible for the reader not to read on.”

Everyone knows the first line from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” That one line tells you a great deal about Austen and her work. It tells you what the story will be about, how the story is written, and what sort of things you can expect…while still being surprised of course.

So, for this writing exercise try creating some first sentences, or paragraphs, that capture the reader from the very beginning. Create something that makes it impossible for the reader to stop reading the story. Try your sentence out with a few friends or relatives and pay close attention to whether or not they ask “what happens next?” That’s when you know you have a great first line. When you have one of those, try writing the rest of the story.

If you want some more experience with first lines, try the Borrower writing exercise to learn how to take lines all ready written and carry on a story from there.

Or, use the first line of the prologue in Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Night Play for example: “I’m so sorry Vane. I swear I didn’t mean to get us killed like this.” Automatically readers want to know who is getting killed, why are they getting killed and how on earth are they getting killed. That kind of one-liner hooks you write from the get go, and that is what will keep readers coming back for more. You have to entice them to read on, or they will very easily throw your book away without a single ounce of regret. Readers are harsh, uncaring, beastly creatures who will tear at an author or book without a second thought. You have to tame the beast early on so they don’t turn on you in the end.

P.S. This exercise was first published by yours truly over on Examiner.com, so the copyright is all mine. Just FYI.

Anyone that wants to write, whether it be a screenplay or a romance novel, should focus on one thing above all else…writing. That being said, a great way to do this is writing exercises. Writing exercises are actually good for everyone really, not just people who want to write for a living, so each Thursday I am going to add one writing exercise tip to the tip jar, in order to get those creative juices of yours flowing

The Borrower Writing Exercise

A good way to overcome writer’s block and beat the blank paper blues is to borrow inspiration. When a reader picks up a novel, the most important moment is when they read the first line.  It’s a make or break moment.

Les Edgerton interviewed some Literary Agents for his book titled Hooked and which he posted an excerpt from in Writer’s Digest. One of the interviews was with Julie Castiglia who said, “That first sentence and paragraph immediately draws one into the story and makes it impossible for the reader not to read on.”

Take their advice. Grab a book, a fiction novel would be preferable, but any ole book will do. You can even pick up an essay or poem if you prefer. Now open it up to the first page and write down the first sentence. Just those first few words. Then put the book away and don’t open it again until the exercise is over. Now that you have your first sentence, write a story (or poem). Just keep the flow going. The style of writing and the beginning words are provided for you. You can change the style as far from the original as you like, or keep it close to the same.

You can use Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities for example: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” Or Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

Whatever you used, you have beat back the writer’s block and created something of your own. You may even choose to use part of your results to create your own story. Just make sure you delete the borrowed line. That is what the exercise is all about, Borrowing Inspiration.

For more info on Les Edgerton’s “Hooked” in Writer’s Digest, check out this site. 


P.S. This exercise was first published by yours truly over on Examiner.com, so the copyright is all mine. Just FYI.

Anyone that wants to write, whether it be a screenplay or a romance novel, should focus on one thing above all else…writing. That being said, a great way to do this is writing exercises. Writing exercises are actually good for everyone really, not just people who want to write for a living, so each Thursday I am going to add one writing exercise tip to the tip jar, in order to get those creative juices of yours flowing.

Being that today is Thanksgiving here in the States, here is a little writing exercise inspired by thanksgiving.

Often times I will give you a choice for your exercise as long as it consists of the main principle, that being Thanksgiving today. However, for those who want a little more prompting, try writing something different from your norm…write a poem or a short story from the eyes of a turkey. Or, perhaps you write from the eyes of someone who wakes up to find themself a turkey and embarks on a crazy journey only to find it was all a dream by tale’s end.

If you are normally a fantasy kind of person, maybe you can do a little research and go with the historical. Write something from the eyes of someone that appeared at the very first thanksgiving meal. Go thoroughly in depth to your protagonist’s emotions; what were they thinking, how did they feel, what did they see-smell-taste-hear etc.

You could go way out there and do a sort of Scrooge story based on Thanksgiving. Maybe your main character is a very un-thankful person and something happens to them (a spirit of one of the founding Thanksgiving participants appears in ghostly form, perhaps) and just in time to cut the turkey the main character is thankful for what they have and enjoys the day.

So, I am sure you get the idea by now. Write something creatively tied in with Thanksgiving, even if it is a little poem. This is not just a regular exercise for your mind, soul and creative writing juices, but this is also something to get you in the turkey cutting, cranberry sauce smearing spirit.

So, Write on! And I would love to see your work if you are willing to share. You can send it to jkhastings@yahoo.com or post it here as a comment if you want the world to see.

And above all else…I pray you have an incandescently happy Thanksgiving. (Yes even you international folks should get in the spirit and be thankful)

And a little something, something for the ladies…Adam Beach as Squanto in the fabulous Thanksgiving movie; Squanto – A Warrior’s Tale.