There’s writing prompts that are meant to simply spur you on and get some words on paper. An important skill to develop as a writer, for sure, but there’s so much more to writing. These 5 writing exercises will help you hone your writing skills in specific areas. Do them all, or pick the ones that you’re looking to develop!
The five senses
Imagine your character has been dating someone and on this third date, they decide on a home-cooked meal. Write down what the recipient of the meal experiences in the following way:
- Write 3 things that they see
- Write 3 things that they hear
- Write 3 things that they smell
- Write 3 things that they feel
- Write 3 things that they taste
Make sure to combine these into a flowing paragraph (or a couple of paragraphs).
When we write we rely heavily on our sense of sight. We can easily describe what someone sees because, unless the character is visually impaired, they do it all the time. The challenge is to give the same kind of attention to the other senses. Do keep in mind that this kind of writing slows down the pace of your story. You don’t need all of the senses all of the time.
Search for a piece of art on google, pinterest, or deviant-art. Pick out something that your character could put on their wall. Describe the room that this piece of art is part of.
Now that you have that written out, describe through the eyes of your character what the room looks like after a huge fight has taken place there.
When it comes to describing a room or area keep in mind that we experience life through so much more than just our senses. A room is so much more than just the objects in it. What do the things inside the room tell us about the people that live there? And after it gets wrecked, what does the destruction of these things do to our characters?
Write a story entirely in dialogue, having one side of the conversation unspoken [redacted]. Make sure the reader can guess at what the redacted parts are by what the other character says.
By focusing on one side of the conversation you really hone in on reactions in words. Really take the exercise to heart and don’t write anything other than dialogue. This will help focus your character’s voice, rather than relying on ‘telling’ people. You’re forced into ‘showing’ them the character’s voice and emotions. Improving how you handle a character’s dialogue will greatly help you hone your writing skills.
Write a paragraph where your character starts off experiencing a strong emotion. Then write a paragraph where you character experiences another strong emotion. It works best if the emotion is completely opposite or different (Happy to sad, angry to loving, etc). Once you have those two in place, write a paragraph in the middle that bridges the gap between the two in a believable way.
People can be fairly emotionally stable at times, but there will always be something that can trigger them. Or move them. Or make them happy even in the darkest of circumstances. Thinking about what it would take for someone to switch strong emotions, and then writing it in a believable way, is an extremely important skill to develop as a writer.
Think of something you main character would swear they’d never, ever, do. Then write about them doing that exact thing.
Character growth happens in time of strive and conflict. Only then do characters have a chance to have their beliefs and morals challenged. What would be needed for them to cross that line? How do they feel about it? Really zoom in on the conflicting emotions. Will they be instantaneous? Will they only realise it later?
Hone your writing skills, always
Writing is a skill, not a talent or a gift. Like any skill, there’s always ways to improve! These short and simple exercises are just the tip of the iceberg. If you have any hope of making it to the mythical level of LiSP-graduate you’ll need to make it through these exercises unscathed! Share your results, or other exercises you like to do, in the comments below.
Strive for continuous improvement, in stead of perfectionKim Collins