Writing Exercises (Part II)

Hello! I’m back, and I’m here to give you more writing exercises. Woooo!! So without further ado, let’s get to it.

Exercise 2: Think about someone or something that you know really well. It works best if it’s something that instills a strong emotion in you, like love or hatred. When you’ve got that person/place/thing in mind, write about it as if your reader is someone who has never seen this person/place/thing before and can only imagine it through your writing. This is a pretty legitimate thing to assume about your reader since even people who know you might not know this thing you are writing about. This exercise will help you practice description, and it will (hopefully) remind you that even if something is clear as day in your head, that doesn’t mean your readers will have any idea of what you’re talking about. The level of description you’re going to use for this exercise will probably exceed the amount you should use in any story (see Top Ten Mistakes Writers Make Part IV for more explanation about description) but since this is just an exercise, you can get away with it. Below, I am going to write an example of this type of description. I am going to make my dog the subject.
My dog’s name is Savvy. When she was a little puppy, she seemed innocent enough, but now my mother and I joke that the name is short for “Savage.” The poor thing is so full of energy, she will often miscalculate how much force to put behind her affection, and end up leaving a pattern of stripes on your flesh to show where her claws have been. Savvy is part Chow, part Doberman, with a few extra breeds thrown in on the side. Mainly, she looks like a small, red Doberman with a less pointy snout, a purple and black tongue, and a curl of a tail. When she pants, it looks like she’s smiling a smile unlike any other. It is a smile that says she is so delighted to be alive and a dog and sniffing things and sitting or eating or whatever else she is doing. She often walks up to us when we are sitting on the couch and gives a half-woof then sits back, wags her tail, and looks at us expectantly. If this does not get the reaction she wants (and God knows what that is) she will lift up a paw and slap it on one of our knees, leaving it there and looking at us with big, brown eyes until we get up and play with her. Savvy might also be part mountain goat, as she is rarely content with simply sitting on the couch. More often than not, she can be seen scaling the couch and lying on the back of it, especially if all the normal seats are occupied by humans. That’s even better for her, as she likes to use us as stepping stones to make her climb up to the top of the couch easier.
Okay, I’m going to stop now. So, hopefully you have a good idea of my dog now. Here’s a picture, just so you can get the idea:
She’s cute, I know. That’s my T-shirt by the way.  ANYhoo! On to another exercise, which is somewhat linked to this one…
Exercise 3: Think of a memory from your distant past. It can be good, bad, scary, epileptic, whatever. Now all you have to do is write that memory. This exercise can be very useful for developing tone and voice. For example, you can write the memory from first person, third person, past, present, or any number of things. If you’re writing about your childhood, you might consider practicing the narrative voice of a child, your younger self. (Warning: This is much more difficult than it seems!) Also, if the memory has a certain emotion attached to it, try to convey that in the tone of the piece. As always, here is an example:
Every Friday night when I was little, unless we had other plans, my family would celebrate Shabbat. We had a delicious dinner, Challah, grape juice, and a pair of candles that my mom usually lit. They always went on the counter that acted as a partition between the cooking area of the kitchen, and the dining area. When I got old enough, she taught me how to light them myself and then say the prayer, and I tried to imitate the exact way she waved her hands over the flames before covering her eyes to sing the Hebrew words. This was a time when God was still a possibility in my mind. He was like some jolly, old fairy godmother who sat in the sky all day and did magical, Godly things. I remember wondering how He managed to hear our prayers every Friday when he was so far away, and in order to answer my own question, I conjured an image in my mind of an old man, not unlike Santa Claus, who was sitting in a comfy armchair. Every Friday night, I imagined him reaching over to an old-fashioned radio, the kind that was really just a speaker and a couple knobs, and turn it on, but instead of music, he would hear my family’s prayers and it would make him smile.
And there you have it! Hopefully you have the idea now, and this should keep you busy for a while because you can do this exercise again and again. Of course the ultimate test is to have someone read these exercises after you’re done and give you some constructive criticism. Remember not to get defensive, or you’ll blow up and die. No, I mean you won’t really, but you should never become so attached to your work that you’re afraid to change it. Advice and criticism should be your bread and butter. Like that right there…that was advice. If you take it, then that’s good, because it means that you have some idea of how to take advice, so good. Okay, enough with the run-on sentences. Happy writing!
Word of the Day: Magnanimous (adj) – Generous in forgiving an insult or injury; free from petty resentfulness or vindictiveness.
Hey, “vindictive” is a great word! So it’s your lucky day because I’m going to make that the word of the day, too. It’s my blog, and I say I can do it.
Word of the Day (Again): Vindictive (adj) – Disposed or inclined to revenge; vengeful
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