Writing Exercises

#1 Think about an event early in your life that is still powerful for you – that made you cry, or afraid, or angry, or triumphant with revenge. Sketch it out – focus on the emotional power. Now – make it fiction. Change something. Change character, change ages, change place, gender – see how this changes the center of the story

#2 Think about your emotional truth (your incident from the last exercise) and the newspaper article you brought in (or a story that happened to a friend, or something you overheard in a restaurant). Take some of the details there to change your story in incident, while keeping the emotional reality.

#3 Bring back a smell. Pay attention over the next few days to all the smells around you—the air outside and inside (and in different rooms,) the smell of cooking as you walk past a restaurant or a residential building and the smell of cooking when you walk into where you will eat dinner. Be aware of the smell of the garbage left on the street, plants, oil, chemical smells. How about the smell of cleaning, of the pool, of shampoo, of newly washed clothes. Pay close attention to a smell. Does it have any emotional resonance? (Not a memory, just a resonance. Do you feel happy or comforted by the smell of newly washed laundry? Cooking? Do you feel happy or sad or indifferent to the smell of snow or rain? Entering the pool area?)

#4 Think of a James Bond film, where the main villain has an army of cannon fodder who do his will. Think of one of those people, who exists from the film point of view just to be killed. This one person wearing a black quasi-uniform holding a semi-automatic weapon guarding the villain’s stronghold–why is s/he there??? What is the person’s name? Background? Age? Family? Why did s/he take this job? (How apply or find it?) What is this person’s story?

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