fiction and other writing

Activity 1
Choose a dramatic incident from your life, perhaps when you were a child. You don’t need to tell anyone about it but remember the feelings. Love, fear, injustice.

E.g. I was pushed down the stairs by my sister, but when my mother asked why I was crying she didn’t believe me and told me not to tell lies.

Now change the event – the people involved – place -but remember the feeling.

Jamie, felt his skin burn with anger. He knew he’d locked the door of the office. He remembered checking the handle. His could feel his heart thudding loudly. It didn’t make any difference; no-one was listening to him. He found it difficult to explain how carefully he had turned all the lights off, closed the internal doors, set the alarm and locked the outer doors. Even now he could feel the coldness of the metal handle as he double-checked the building was secure.

Try to use all your senses and describe a made-up incident, evoking the same feeling.

Activity 2
Now write about the made-up incident from a different point of view. How does it change the telling? Are different feelings coming through?

Activity 3
Take the made-up incident and imagine it had happened to someone considerably older or younger. (You might have to adjust the incident so that it makes sense.) Try to think about whether they would deal with their emotions differently because of their different level of life experience.

Activity 4
Focus on another character involved. How would the resolution of the incident change if the ‘supporting character’ had behaved differently?

Acknowledgements for this activity, which I have adapted, from the excellent book called, ‘What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers‘ by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter.
‘What If?’ contains over eighty writing exercises that will help move your writing on. The aims of each activity are set out clearly and the tasks are explained, so that everyone can improve their writing skills. Writing examples are given so that you can check you’re on the right track.

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