- A free-write
- A descriptive passage
- A short story
- A bit of memoir
Today, read this page on “open source beer” and get a handle on the idea of what it means for something to be open source, if you aren’t yet familiar with the concept. Next, brainstorm a list of things that could be made open source–use free-writing and go crazy with this; don’t censor your list. Just set a timer for ten minutes and see what you come up with.
Finally, pick one item that you think could be particularly interesting–whether for its amusement or satire value, or because you think that open-sourcing it could result in something really interesting and/or valuable–and write about it! Try to pick something unusual and unexpected.
Today, tell this man’s story. Try to see beyond the obvious or stereotypical; go deep. The thumbnails below link to the original images of the sculpture by Philippe Faraut:
Alternative exercise: tell a story in which this sculpture makes an appearance, either as an object central to the story, or as a piece of scenery that tells something about the story, the scene, or the character(s) in the scene.
This exercise may seem morbid, but hear me out for a moment. Today, write your own obituary as it would read if you’d died yesterday. This may be difficult, and it may touch a few raw nerves, but that’s all right as long as you can handle it. While there are certainly writers who stick with writing light, “fluffy” pieces and do quite well with it, many people write because they want to touch something in other people. Often that means we have to be in touch with our own deep, sometimes dark, feelings. Not all writers’ exercises are meant to be fun; some of them help us to face those feelings so we can better express them in our regular writing. So today, face some of those feelings.
One of my favorite ways to flesh out a character is to ask him or her one or more questions and see what answers emerge. You can conduct this like an interview in your mind, or you can free-write in response to the questions from the point of view of your character (I prefer the latter approach; some prefer the former). There are always other options, of course; one would be to answer the question by writing a snippet of fiction depicting relevant events, and another might be to fill out diary entries (or blog entries!) for the character.
While I do have a few other resources available for character questions, including both a free 5.5M pdf of 365 character questions and a saddle-stitched hardcopy of the same available through CafePress, I also like to occasionally include a few themed questions here. Today’s topic is friendship. You don’t need to answer a ton of questions about your character in order to get a handle on her, so pick and choose your questions instead. Answer at least one of the following for your character. If you’re a non-fiction writer, consider using one of the following as a journaling question instead. Don’t stop at a one-sentence answer–there should be an unspoken “why” and “how” in each question you ask!
Today, instead of simply taking a prompt I provide you, you’re going to construct your own instant prompt generator. Assemble the following tools: a pen, a tiny pad of post-it notes, a container (such as a small box, a candy bowl, or even a ziploc sandwich bag) and one or more of the following:
Write one random word, short description of an image, item, phrase from a song lyric, or anything else interesting onto each post-it, fold it up, and put it in the container.
Starting today and doing this again any time you want a random prompt, pull out one to three slips of paper, open them up, and work their contents together into a piece of writing. Every now and then add another handful of slips to your collection and give it a shake.