Setting

Set The Stage

Believe it or not, choosing the right setting is one of the most important decisions to make when planning a scene. The location can add mood, supply tension and conflict, steer the plot, characterize, foreshadow, and even provide a way to dribble in backstory. Going with the first thing that comes to mind is often easier but may rob the scene of added depth. Locations that are frequently used in books and film may also bore readers.

For your next important scene, make a list of twenty possible locations. Brainstorm some that have personal meaning to one or more characters as this can affect their emotional state in the scene. Play with weather elements, time, and the quality of light (and shadow) to further customize your setting. Challenge yourself to find the perfect fit and it will pay off by powering up the scene and offering readers a fresh experience.

Writer's Block

Now I'm Free, Free Writin'

Take 5-10 minutes to free-write about your project in new or strange way. Scrawl your thoughts on construction paper in purple marker, close your eyes and write outside the lines — or draw your plot in pictograms. When you're done, choose the bits that stand out most to you or were the most fun to jot down, and make them the central points of your outline or story.

Writer's Block

Positive Reinforcement

Make a list of the things that make you feel guilty about your writing. (For example: "I haven't written in 10 days even though I could have made the time.") Call yourself out. Then, go through each point and write a goal or accomplishment to challenge that guilt. (For example: "I have already written more than I did last month", or "I will set aside 30 minutes to write today.")

Plot Development

Clue Hunt

The best way to learn is by reading, so pick up a book that had a plot twist that surprised you and yet felt right. Look for subtle foreshadowing in it. Start at the beginning of the book and find the clues that point towards the twist. Make a list of them. Include the wording, so that you can see why they weren’t obvious at first.

Character Development

Talent Show

Your protagonist has been asked to showcase a little-known, unusual talent at a community fair’s talent contest. Begin on stage and show not only the performer but also the crowd’s reaction to this talent unveiling.

Outlining

Lists Are Your Friend

If you have 5 minutes, prep for your outlining by making a list of lists. This could include:

  • 5 possible endings for your book
  • 5 twists
  • 5 possible subplots
  • 5 ways the subplots could tie into the main plot
  • 5 ways the character could grow
  • 5 surprising things that we could learn about a character
  • 5 ways to add some unexpected elements to the book (humor, suspense, sadness, fear)
  • 5 ways to describe the main setting/another setting
Writer's Block

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."
Writer's Block

Eight

Pick a fiction book from your shelf. Go to page eight and find the eighth sentence on the page. Start with that sentence and write an eight-line poem that connects in some way to your work-in-progress. For instance, write from the POV of a character, or set the poem in a story setting. Don’t worry about poetry forms. Just write eight lines of any length that flow and explore some aspect of character, setting, or theme.