Sunday, October 14, 2012

October 15 Writing Challenge

Greetings again, young writers! Hope you enjoyed writing your short stories or your thoughts for a novel. We are moving through this semester course quickly. Keep reviewing notes from what we have discussed in previews weeks. Remember--if you get stuck and hit that writer’s block where no words are coming, first step away for a bit. If you come back to your work and still have writer’s block, try some of the free writing exercises.

Let’s look this week at connecting feelings to your characters in short stories or future novels. Characters cannot be flat, emotionless creations. To have strong writings, your characters need depth--they need to feel and to think. When we begin as young writers, we often tell our audience exactly what our characters feel. We simply say things like, “He was sad when he heard of her death.” Consider how much stronger this statement is, however: “He wept uncontrollably as he ran from the house, feeling as if the walls were falling around him as the words of her death filled the room.” This statement draws the reader into the emotion and paints a picture of grief.

Your creative thoughts may be expressions of your own emotions. If you are celebrating a joy or struggling with a challenging emotion such as grief or anger, paint a picture of what you are feeling. You can turn your thoughts into a blog helpful to others experiencing similar thoughts or create a short story giving your emotions to a third-person character.

For now, let’s focus on expressing emotion for a character in your writings. First, get the emotion needed in the story down on paper. Is he feeling grief or anger? Is she experiencing joy? Second, ask yourself how deeply this character would experience this emotion. Is this a deep pain or joy? Is this a shallow, passing emotion? The answer to this question will give you clues to the language you need to choose to express the emotion. For example, a character would not run from the house in grief over the news of the death of a distant acquaintance. Your emotions expressed in a story need to be consistent with the characters and storyline. A rude, heartless employer would react differently than a loving new parent.

Once you get the first emotion on paper, then find ways to improve the presentation. Consider the overall picture you are painting for your audience. Improve your overall sentence structure and strengthen your imagery.

For the week, complete two of the following assignments:

Challenge 1:

Let’s work on getting some emotions down on paper. Write down three quick sentences that describe your feelings about each of the following phrases or words:

*fall leaves
*summer vacations
*burned dinner
*loose tooth
*brown sculpting clay in your hands

Challenge 2:

Now look back over what you wrote for Challenge 1. Do you think other people would share your thoughts on these common subjects? Could you incorporate these thoughts into a story if you improved your sentence structure and imagery? You may have expressed surprise or grief or joy or anger in connection with these words. Images trigger different responses based on personal experiences in life. Characters in a book may cry over fall leaves because it was the last image shared with a loved one. Other characters may delight in the beauty of the scene and walk through fall leaves to bring back memories of past joys.
Take one of your emotions shared above and write a scene (300 words or less) that describes a fictional character experiencing your emotion.

Challenge 3:

Write a poem expressing a strong emotion of any type (joy, grief, anger, etc…). You can choose the length and the style of poetry. Use strong imagery throughout your poem.

Challenge 4:

If you want to continue planning for a future novel, write a character sketch for two of your main characters. In this sketch, discuss how their emotions may run throughout the book. Will these characters express strong emotions throughout the book? Will the emotions change as the characters develop throughout the story? Will the characters hide their emotions from others or be overly emotional in a crowd?

Remember--to improve your creative writing skills, write something every day. Write in a journal, blog, write a poem, or just get some thoughts down on paper by using a variety of writing exercises. 

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