October 27th, 2009
WOW. Can you believe it’s week 15 already? It seems like we just started our adventure, doesn’t it? To keep you going strong with your productivity challenge, here’s our weekly dose of inspiration…
Exclusive TAC Quote of the Week
Teen Author Challenge
As you go through the first draft process of writing your manuscript, sometimes it can help to shake things up. To take all the pieces and mix it up a little. Several years ago, I attended agent Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel workshop. One of the most interesting exercises he had us do was an activity to mix up the characters, subplots and settings of the story.
If you have a copy of his Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (if you don’t have this, you definitely should!), you’ll find it in Exercise #16. In his version, you have three columns on your piece of paper. Characters in the first, subplots in the second, and settings in the third.
During his workshop, he mentioned that his pet peeve was when characters drink coffee in their kitchens because he felt it was a commonplace, meaningless action that did nothing to bring the story to life. This exercise was used to illustrate how we, as writers, could shake up that staid thinking and create scenes that were more memorable.
On the three-column chart, you would simply draw random lines between columns 1, 2 and 3 to create new and unusual connections between your story elements. Then you would try to use those unusual connections to craft a memorable scene.
What I’ve discovered is that this approach works well for lots of different things! I’ve done it where the main characters were in the first column, secondary characters in the second, and settings or actions (watching a soccer game, for instance) or things (ballet slippers or a broken TV) in the third. I know I sometimes get bogged down using the same settings with the same characters, so changing it up can be really freeing when I’m in a rut.
I’ve also made it a game where I’ve written each idea down on a slip of paper and put it into one of three different bags. Then I’ll take one paper from each bag and come up with a scene that a) moves the story along swiftly, and b) uses this unusual mash-up of characters, places, and things.
Try this in your story and see if it leads to a creative new scene!
Buzz Tip of the Week
Since the entire goal of the TAC productivity challenge is to help you develop strong and consistent writing habits, I thought last Friday’s post by the savvy and lovely Jessica Faust of BookEnds Literary Agency was particularly fitting. Jessica shares her thoughts on how (and why) to set manageable deadlines for yourself as a writing professional. (And yes, some of this is going to sound mighty familiar. Great minds, right?)
Your Weekly Challenge
How did you do on your writing last week? Comment below with your weekly results from last Tuesday through today so we can cheer your progress! And if you use the three-columnn (or three-baggie) idea in some form, let us know how it goes for you!
Go forth and be creative!
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