The more we practice writing, the more we realize how much practice it takes! Books on writing are useful, as are courses, but there’s nothing like learning by doing. Here are some of our collected prompts, exercises and tips that can help you further develop some of the many skills that go into writing a good story.
Most have been developed for Peggy’s workshops or gathered by Tudor as she has explored many facets of the freelancing business. Some are classic exercises found in various creative writing texts, and in some cases we are able to credit other writers or teachers who have shared their own favourite writing tools. If you know of an exercise or a tip that has helped strengthen your writing abilities or helped nourish your writing career, we’d love to hear about it.
Warm-ups and Story Starters:
There’s nothing quite as intimidating as the blank page; the bestselling novel you mentally wrote in bed last night can be utterly impossible to start in the cold light of day. Here are some ways to boot out your inner critic and let the wild artist within have some fun. Before long, you’ll have filled one blank page, then another … and you’ll not only have warmed up your writing muscles, but in the process may well have stumbled upon some new story ideas of your own. View the exercises here.
No story is going to hold a reader’s interest if he or she can’t ‘believe in’ the characters. If the characters in the tale come across as two-dimensional stick people, no one is going to care whether they live or die … so why read on? Here are some exercises designed to help you bring your characters off the page and into your readers’ hearts and minds. View the exercises here.
Some people seem to be natural-born storytellers who can shape a tale in such a way that you’re always wanting to know what comes next. Other struggle to decide what their characters are really on stage to accomplish, or what the story is truly ‘about.’ If you’re one of those latter writers, here are some exercises that might help you. View the exercises here.
The main thing to remember about dialogue is that it must sound realistic without being terribly realistic. Unlike the small talk real human beings often use to fill space, the dialogue between characters must be well-paced and serve a purpose, whether that’s to increase our understanding of their personality, advance the plot, or heighten the overt or underlying tension in the scene. Click here for exercises that focus on this important element in the writer’s toolbox. View the exercises here.
God is in the details, at least when it comes to storytelling. It’s so easy to rely on tried and true (in other words, TIRED) imagery, but it won’t help bring the story to life for your readers. Use these exercises to help you pinpoint those specific, telling details that won’t fail to capture your readers’ attention. View the exercises here.
Point of View & Voice:
These two aspects of writing are different but related, and often the choices we make around them both are unconscious as we let the story just ‘happen’. Understanding POV and voice better helps us see the different effects that can be brought about by narrating the story from a different pair of eyes, or from a different psychic distance. We hope these exercises will help shine some light on these important tools.
You don’t have to write your autobiography from the day you were born up until the moment you put your socks on this morning. Instead, record your life through anecdotes, memories and reflections that will paint a better picture of who you really are than a chronological march through your school days and career highlights ever could. Click here for some prompts to get you thinking about the stories that comprise your life.
Interviewing: An interview with a subject can be an energetic exchange, or limp along lifelessly. Here are some tips to make sure you’re getting the best story possible.