Writing a Novel – Daily Exercises in Self-Study

May 7, 2014 by

Writing a Novel – Daily Exercises in Self-Study

My apologies. I’ve been neck-deep in work-related projects associated with books for iPad the past couple of days. And I’ve been doing work on what will become my first novel. I hope.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been doing daily posts on suggested self-study exercises that can be helpful in writing a novel, but also as a self-study in getting to know oneself a little better.

So since I missed out on posts on Monday and Tuesday, I’ve lumped those questions in with Wednesday’s post.

What you’re supposed to do, is take out a stack of 3″ x 5″ notecards, title them, date them and number them, and then make a list of the answers you come up with for each of the day’s questions.

If you would go back to Monday’s exercise, it is:

I’m glad I did _____

Tuesday’s exercise is:

I wish I had NOT done ______

And the exercise designed for today, Wednesday, May 7, 2014, is simply this.

If I died right now, what would people say about my life?

Maybe that’s not something that just goes on a notecard, but instead of writing long sentences, maybe you should start by jotting down a few words. And be honest with yourself.  If you were to keel over right now and someone were to have to deliver a eulogy about you using only a series of one word thoughts, what would they be?  I know. That can be pretty sobering, but let’s go.  Might give you some things to work on even if you don’t end up writing a book….

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Writing A Novel – Learning From Mistakes

May 2, 2014 by

Writing A Novel – Learning From Mistakes

Airplane Sunrise

Airplane Sunrise (Photo credit: ClaxtonCreative)

The most powerful lessons we learn in life are from our own mistakes. Sometimes they’re silly mistakes. Sometimes they’re gross miscalculations. Sometimes we gambled too much and lost.

Over the past two weeks we’ve been going through a series of daily exercises designed as a self-study, even for someone who may not ever write a novel, short story or screenplay.

The gist of the exercise is simple. Take out a stack of blank 3 x5 notecards, title, number and date them, and then add a list of items associated with the exercise.

EXERCISE:

So here’s today’s challenge. Make a list of what you have learned from the mistakes you have made in your life. Maybe this just needs to be one lesson per card.  It’s up to you and as always, there are no wrong or right answers and you don’t have to share them with anyone else but yourself.  But the premise here is that when you go to writing and creating your characters, you’re going to want to create an arc for them over the length of the story.  That means they start at one point and hopefully, after crossing a couple bridges from which there is no return, they end up at a different point in their lives. Usually in storytelling that means they go from a negative aspect in their lives to a positive one.  They go from being a lazy drunkard to an energetic community leader hero and find redemption, etc.  Over simplifications, but I hope you get the point.

Well to write about those things, wouldn’t it be easier to have something of a list in hand BEFORE you really get going down the path so you have a better idea where you’re going?  And what better a thing to weave in some realness into your characters by dealing with things that you have truly experienced or seen in the lives of others?

Thinking about writing a novel? Now do you understand why this is so important for a writer?

Now thing about how important it still might be to someone who may never write a thing in their life, but instead used this one blog post to make an important life change….

 

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Writing A Novel – Mistakes I’ve Made

May 1, 2014 by

Writing A Novel – Mistakes I’ve Made

Many successful authors will tell you that writing about characters they have created is in part, writing about themselves.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been doing daily exercises of compiling a stack of 3 x 5 notecards full of lists of various self-study questions and topics.

Today is no exception.  And again, whether you’re writing a novel or not, this can be most helpful an exercise.

EXERCISE:

Take out a 3 x 5 notecard, write “WMHIM” and number it, and date it, and then below, start a list of the mistakes you feel you have made in life. When you fill up a card, take out another one, label it and keep going.  Remember, there are no right or wrong answers. And like I’ve repeatedly said, this can be helpful to one whether they’re writing a novel or just trying to get a better handle on the person inside.

What Mistakes Have I Made? 

Writing

Writing (Photo credit: jjpacres)

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Writing A Novel – Characteristics of People I Like

Apr 29, 2014 by

Writing A Novel – Characteristics of People I Like

An essential part of a good story is being able to add good qualities and flavor into the lives of your characters. You want to create empathy between them and your readers.  Even your antagonist needs to have a soft spot so your readers/viewers can relate to him/her in some way.  It just makes for a better story.

And so today we continue on with our self-study exploration questions that hopefully will help make it much easier to come up with good things about your characters based on this series of exercises.

The good thing about these exercises is that they also can be helpful and beneficial to someone who just wants to learn a little more about themselves.

Last week we began this series and did some exercises. Saturday’s was to get a stack of 3 x 5 notecards and write about things you like. Yesterday’s was things you do NOT like.

Today we’re going to analyze that a little deeper.

To do the exercise, just fill out the top of a card with a heading, in the case of today’s exercise–Characteristics of people who I have liked–and then number the card in the top right corner. I also like to add the date somewhere so that two or three years from now when I come back to these, I’ll have a better frame of reference as to what was going through my head now versus then. When you fill up a card, start a second, third … as many as it takes.

Remember, there are no right or wrong answers.

And if you’re doing these exercises for the benefit of your future characters, think about exposition you will do and even dialogue you will write where this will add an extra dimension to your characters.

Okay, so here’s today’s exercise.

EXERCISE

What are characteristics of people I do like? Is it just superficial as in the way they dress, or look or can you probe deeper and really see somethings. Are they like how you want to be seen?  Are they how you are seen?  What do they do you do not?  What do they do that’s similar?  Keep probing, there’s a lot of good that can come from this.

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Writing a Novel – What Do I Dislike?

Apr 28, 2014 by

Writing a Novel – What Do I Dislike? 

An essential part of a good story is being able to add conflict into the lives of your characters. I’m finding that’s much easier to come up with based on this series of exercises about ME.

Now as I have been saying, these exercises could be helpful to people writing books and all, but as importantly, they might also can be helpful and beneficial to someone who just wants to learn a little more about themselves.

Last week we began this series and did some exercises. Saturday’s was to get a stack of 3 x 5 notecards and write about things you like.

To do the exercise, just fill out the top of a card with a heading, in the case of today’s exercise–Things I Dislike–and then number the card in the top right corner. I also like to add the date somewhere so that two or three years from now when I come back to these, I’ll have a better frame of reference as to what was going through my head now versus then. When you fill up a card, start a second, third … as many as it takes.

Remember, there are no right or wrong answers.

And if you’re doing these exercises for the benefit of your future characters, think about situations they might need to get in where they have to face these aspects. If you’re writing about something you don’t like, chances are your characters won’t either, but more importantly, chances are your READERS won’t like them either, and then you have the opportunity to either have your character address the issue or run from it, both good story lines….

Okay, so here’s today’s exercise. Later in the day there’ll be a post about Netflix’ House of Cards and the characters in that series….

EXERCISE

What do I dislike?

Collaborative writing exercises—such as the cl...

Collaborative writing exercises—such as the clustering shown here—can be used for development of ideas. Colored tabs of paper—attached to the large page—are used in a collaborative voting exercise to gain consensus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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