Friday, February 11, 2011

Writing Exercises to Work Your Imagination

I like to think of my imagination as a muscle in my body. If you don't exercise your imagination regularly, it atrophies and loses strength and flexibility. Writing on a regular basis is good exercise for your imagination.

Here are a few writing exercises you can try, if you don't have a story ready to begin. These are also great ways to cure writer's block. One of these exercises I was introduced to in a creative writing class and the others I devised on my own, though in checking the Internet, I've found there are variations of them out there. Great minds do think alike!

1) Get a newspaper or go online and check out your favorite current events site. Find an article that interests you, read it, and turn that article into a story. For example, this past year, being a transplanted Texan, I read a lot of articles on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. I put a fantastical spin on this news story. I wrote about what happened to a mythological creature that left her home because of the disaster.

2) Pick one of your favorite music groups and listen to a song. Songs tell stories. I read a lot of authors who mention the music that inspires their writing. This is where I came up with the idea. One of my favorite bands is The Misfits. They have great punk lyrics like Astro Zombies and Skulls. The lyrics I linked to have great images and plot beginnings to choose from, but they are graphic in nature.

3) For this exercise you'll need a bunch of different business cards. You draw three random cards from a bowl/pile. Read the job title from the first one you pick and give that job to the main character in your story. Read the setting from the second card and make that your setting. And from the third card you pull, you take the name of the person on the card and give it to your main character. Now all you need to do is add your own plot. It's a fun exercise that yields interesting results. I wrote a short story in my creative writing class, Lucky Thirteen, about a bellhop who gets called up to fix a plugged toilet and gets lucky.

4) Pick any fiction book you have and open to a random page or if you prefer order, open to the first page. If you chose a random page, you can be really daring and close your eyes and point to a spot on the page. Whatever sentence your finger has landed on is now the first sentence of your new story. If you chose to be more traditional, the first sentence of the first page of your book is now the beginning of your story.

I hope these exercises lead to engaging stories for you! They have for me.

As always, happy writing and happy reading!

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