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Beginnings

Getting started is one of the most difficult tasks that faces every writer. Julie Parsons is an international bestselling author. For this exercise, she's giving you the opening lines from some of her books. Take the following lines and use them to write the beginning of your own chapter:

  1. You could say it began with a phone call."
  2. Michael had watched them both for weeks."
  3. She remembered the way it was the first time she saw the prison."
  4. Midsummer, no time to be in New Orleans."
  5. With the dawn came the light."

The Motif

Write a list of images you associate with your theme. Now do the same for each of your main characters. Keep these images in mind as a way to present your theme metaphorically through symbolic motifs.

Break Through The Block

Think of writer's block as a symptom, not a condition that can't be remedied. When we're stuck and can't get to our creative work, there's usually a reason - and therefore a way to move forward.If you're experiencing a block and can't seem to work on your novel, try the following:

  1. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths. Connect.
  2. How do you feel?
  3. Nervous because you're coming up on a tough scene?
  4. Starting to wonder why you embarked on this project?
  5. Bored with sticking to your thorough outline and not wanting to admit it?
Feel what you're feeling without attaching or rationalizing or arguing. Now, refocus on your breath. Imagine gentle snow or waves. When you're calm inside, grab a notebook and pen (computers can amplify pressure instead of opening room for free scribbling) and write without stopping for three minutes, starting with the prompt, "I'm not blocked becauseÄ" After that, go for another three minutes, using, "The path back to my writing looks likeÄ" Let yourself go. Let your hand tell you whatever you need to hear.

Room

Write a description of the room you are in from the point-of-view of a character in your work-in-progress. If the character is from another time or place, so much the better. What would the character notice first? What would she find odd? What would she love about the room? What would she dislike? Go beyond describing the physical space and capture her attitude about what she sees. Let her be snarky or wax poetical. Whatever captures her emotions about the space.

Musicals

Your character's story has been Disney-fied. At what point in the arc does your protagonist break out into song - and what is that song about?

Mood Swings

I recommend starting this exercise with a travel magazine packed with lots of interesting photos. Select an image that appeals to you. Now, write a short scene from the viewpoint of a character who has just arrived at this location and is seeing it for the first time. Describe the setting through the character's eyes, paying particular attention to the mood that this image evokes in you. Evoke this mood in your readers through the reactions of the character - look for sensory images!Now, write a second scene, with the same or a different character - and evoke just the OPPOSITE mood. If your castle seemed tranquil and romantic, set a scene in which the mood is menacing or sorrowful. If the image of that tropical beach made you feel relaxed and happy, create a scene in which, instead, it is causing your character to feel angry or anxious. Again, look for sensory details and impressions that will convince your reader and evoke that same mood through your words - regardless of what mood the picture alone might have evoked!

Newsworthy

Your protagonist has just made it into a New York Times headline. What does the headline say? Write down the reaction of your protagonist to hearing the news that day.