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Use Your Words

_Voice separates MEH stories from the ones that grab attention. _Voice is the unique way _a writer combines words and strings together sentences. It is _a story's personality, its manner of expression. _A compelling voice is the difference between "Oh, shucks!" and "Oh, slippery slush!" (Little Red Gliding Hood)_. Between "Charmaine's showing off" and "Charmaine's strutting hard enough to shame a rooster" (The Quickest Kid in Clarksville). And between "Pancake _escaped_" and "Pancake rappelled down a rope of linguini" (Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast)_. _Examine your story for common language - for example, circle blah verbs and insert something more unique.

Describe Your Surroundings

We've all read about the grey autumn day, the crisp spring morning, the dewey summer evening. Flex your descriptive muscles by spending some time writing about your surroundings. Look for new, interesting, evocative ways to explain the world around you. For instance, instead of writing, "a breeze blew in through the open window, try, "papers fluttered in the gust that swept in through the window, throwing dust into the air like confetti."

Famous Lines

Dialogue isn't exclusive: characters may say the same things, but mean something entirely different in the context of the scene. Pick one of the below famous lines from literature and film. Then start a scene by having a character say it. Develop the scene that follows in 500-600 words and see where it takes your characters.

  • "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.
  • "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse."
  • "Made it, Ma! Top of the world!"
  • "You're gonna need a bigger boat."
  • "Oh, don't let's ask for the moon. We have the stars."

Through Another Person's Eyes

Select a scene that involves 2-3 characters. Write a paragraph from the point of one character. Now write the same interaction from another character's point of view. For example: your paragraph could involve the point of view of a convenience store clerk contrasted with a customer's point of view of the same incident.

A New Chapter

Pick up one of your favorite novels. Open it to a random page. Whatever chapter you land on, rewrite it your own way. Take it in a totally different direction than how it actually plays out in the book.

No Vowel

Write a passage without the letter "E" or "A." This is known as a lipogram and has been used by authors in many languages to write their novels. You will use unusual sentence constructions, and it may slow you down for a while, but it will certainly force your brain to work in different ways.

Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains." So began Seth Grahame-Smith's book, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which (you guessed it) re-imagined Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in a world with zombies. Sometimes one big twist is all it takes to get you thinking about a story in a different way. How would the introduction of zombies shake things up in your world? How would it affect the relationships between your characters? How would it change priorities? Which parts of your world would stay the same, and which parts would be different? Detail this in a short story of 1,000-2,000 words.