In an earlier post, I wrote about some of the great tips I learned from writing guru Margie Lawson at the recent Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference.
Lawson coined the term “dialogue cues” to describe the psychological/emotional subtext around dialogue. (For a great discussion of subtext with examples, read The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot by Charles Baxter).
I’ve been experimenting with creating dialogue cues since Lawson’s class and made up my own “dialogue cue” practice as I did with metaphor practice. Here’s what I do:
1. Using one word or a short phrase make a list of attributes of your character—try using what Lawson calls “power words,” words that have an emotional or psychological impact on your reader.
The list for the antagonist in my current work might look like this: Sexy, Sensual, Ancient, Devious, Infectious, Hypnotic, Charming. Read more
In my last post “Writing exercises to help you go deeper” I wrote about developing a writing exercise to help me delve into my story and focus on what my protagonist learned from her experiences and also how she grew from this knowledge or information.
It was pretty easy to come up with what she learned. For example, one of the things she had learned from her life experiences so far was that those who love her, eventually leave her. This is what she comes into the story with and, because she’s afraid of getting hurt, she guards her heart.
Over the course of the story, she learns to trust again. She learns that “leaving” is an illusion and that love is never-ending. Read more
Firsts are powerful: your first kiss, first love, first car, first death of a pet or loved one, first child. If you think back on your firsts, they will mostly contain a tremendous amount of emotion.
Talking with Carly yesterday about curse words, she mentioned that she remembered her father rarely, if ever, swearing. I told her that every other word my father spoke was the “f” word. Because I heard it so often growing up, the word had little meaning to me. To my ears, it was the equivalent of someone saying, “damn.” Read more
Some people think writing exercises are a waste of time. I heard one writer once say, “just write your story.” But I’ve found that writing prompts can be a doorway for something surprising – an intriguing plot or the birth of a character.
In one writing workshop I attended, participants were instructed to write about the tools they needed to do their job. I didn’t expect anything compelling but found that as I wrote, the words picked up steam, spilling out a very emotional essay about a story I had reported on as a journalist.
Since then, I’ve collected interesting exercises and think of them as warm-ups when I need to flex my writing muscles. As I was doing some reorganizing recently, I ran across a favorite book called The Write-Brain Workbook: 366 Exercises to Liberate Your Writing, by Bonnie Neubauer.
Here are a couple exercises from “The Write-Brain Workbook.”
Exercise 1 – Spoiled Rotten Read more