Writing Exercise: Haunted House

IMG_3355Think of a character you’ve written before–or, if you’re new to this writing thing, be your own character. Now send this character to a haunted house.

Five minutes. Go.

Mine:

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Writing Exercise: The Second Person

Have you ever written in the second person? (By which I mean the narrative addresses some sort of “you.”) It’s not a particularly popular style but there are some good examples of it out there. Cherry by Mary Karr is an entire memoir written in the second person. Self-Help by Lorrie Moore uses the second person in short stories. And then there’s What Would Your Mother Say by Laura Ender–

Wait, you haven’t heard of that one? Oh, right. Not published. (Yet. Adding the word “yet” will make me feel better.) That’s my novel, which is sort of on hold at the moment after a long period of submissions (Thank you, Kate! I love you! I mean, I’ve never met you in person and I don’t know your favorite color or if you have a dog or anything but you took a chance on my novel so I love you.) because I’ve had some creative epiphany/realized it just isn’t good enough.

Anyhow, my novel is written entirely in the second person. A risky choice, I know, and certainly something that has made certain editors hesitate, but it’s right for the book and I will stand by it. But I’ve been away from my second person novel for a long time, writing in the first and third like a normal person. So I need to get back into it. So this exercise is completely self-serving but maybe you’ll enjoy it, too.

So that’s the brief: write in the second person. Take it wherever you want to. Five minutes. Go.

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Writing Exercise: A Rose by Any Other Name

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Do you know anyone named Rose? First name or last name. A dog, a cat–anyone? What about famous people–Charlie Rose, for example. Or Rosemary Clooney. Or someone who just reminds you of roses.

Well, I had a first grade teacher named Mrs. Rose. Come to think of it, I have no idea what her first name was. That makes me sad. But I do remember her quite vividly, and I’ve decided that she’s the inspiration for this week’s writing exercise. I’m going to write about her; you write about your Rose (real or imaginary).

As usual: five minutes. Go. (And remember to share yours in the comments!) Continue reading

Making Time to Write: Five Minute Bursts (A Plan)

angry owl writeOnce, in grad school, a friend and I had planned to go out for a beer (or, in his case, a Diet Coke–he didn’t drink). He met me at my apartment and we went to the bar across the street, but first I had to finish a paragraph in a story I was writing. When I told him this, he was taken aback: “You can write at night?” he said. “I can write any time. Especially if I’m inspired.” “I can only write in the morning,” he said. “And even then it’s a struggle.”

Or something like that. (You know, in nonfiction, you can use dialog that isn’t verbatim.)

So I finished the paragraph and we got our drinks and we talked some more about our writing processes. He was a very structured writer who like to research his work extensively and used very specific ideas and themes to jump start his stories. He took joy in having finished writing, but not necessarily the writing itself–a position that all writers find themselves in at least some of the time. But I found it interesting that he had such strong ideas about when he could and couldn’t write. At the time, I found myself writing whenever I had a free moment; grad school provided masses of inspiration and time frames in which to complete stories.

Nowadays, however, I relate to my friend. Continue reading