Get on with the story!
This exercise requires flexibility and mental agility. You will need to get on with the story and not dwell on descriptive passages, unnecessary detail or character descriptions.
It might be a good idea to play a couple of rounds of a Tabletop Game such as Word Bluff or lateral thinking first to sharpen everyone up!
Pass the questions around and each person asks takes turns to put a question to the person on their left. Two points if you get your own, one point if the person asked gets it wrong and you answer it first. Highest scorer gets sweets!
- You are going to start developing a story-line and introducing your characters.
- You will be stopped and told to make plot shifts, add a character, move the action, change to a back story or introduce a subplot …
- The story line involves a clandestine meeting, hidden in plain sight eg in a bar, a café, a hotel, some other public place. You must decide who the people are and why their meeting is secretive.
- You have ten minutes to start introducing the characters, trying to provide some drama and making the opening intriguing. You must give us an idea what the story may be about but do not spell it out.
(Set timer for 10 minutes)
- ‘Finish the sentence you are writing’ and shift to a new chapter in which we you focus on a single character that will at some point interact with your main characters, in a totally different setting/place /time.
(Set timer for 7 minutes)
- Return to the main characters but find a way to introduce the back story of one character (flash back, reflection, direct reference to some significant incident or circumstance from the past…..)
(Set timer for 5 minutes)
Stop writing. Share and discuss the stories and also the exercise itself. Was it difficult? Did you get into the story? How similar/different were the stories?
Q. Why might you do this exercise?
A. Plunging into different part of the story or deliberately coming up with a new character who has yet to be woven in to the narrative are suggestions for those times when you might get a bit bogged down with the point you have reached, Or sometimes life has got in the way and you have had to break off from your writing and find it a bit difficult to just pick up the thread at once. Or perhaps you feel you are drifting and the story is losing pace and you re not sure where you want to go next. You may even be a bit bored with the passage you are working on and just want a change. Just as the story does not have to be told in chronological order, you don’t actually have to write it in the order in which it finally unfolds!