Posted in Exercises, writing

Artistic License

When trying to create a story it can sometimes feel as though we have to keep within a given set of conventions.  Genres are often built on these expectations and are what most readers look for in a story when searching store shelves for their next read. At the same time, ignoring the standard tropes and turns allows us instead to explore a story in a unique light.  

Artistic license allows us to twist a story as we see fit, especially as we see new ways to retell a story and to send a message more fitting to the times we live in. Rather than following the same plot lines you might for rescuing the princess from the dragon, what happens when your valiant knight instead finds the princess is the dragon? Or perhaps the dragon is dead, or never existed at all? Rather than rescuing her perhaps the knight must instead solve her murder.  

For an exercise try setting a timer for fifteen minutes and writing freely. You can use a prompt or just any ideas you have in your head. Try to ignore any genre or plot conventions.  

Posted in writing

Different Processes

Everyone has a different process. Some of can whip out a draft quickly, and then slow down and fine tune it over weeks and months, figuring out where it needs a little extra polish. Others prefer to make lots of notes beforehand, taking time to figure out the order of events or who is motivated by what long before they begin with ‘Once upon a time.’

Regardless of your particular approach, it’s helpful to recognize that your particular writing process doesn’t have to be set in stone. Not every story you write will work for your usual process. You wouldn’t write a historical fiction without at least understanding some of the more important dates and facts about the time period you’re writing about. Similarly however, you have free reign in a fantasy, and aren’t required to know every detail about its government system if you’re writing a fantasy romance between the village baker and the magician who’s lost their memory.

If you’re at the beginning of the process but feeling unmotivated or having trouble getting it started, ask yourself:

  • Do I feel prepared to start on this story?
  • Do I feel inspired to start on this story?

If you’re answering no to either one of those, you might need to address any concerns still hanging over you for getting going. If there’s a detail you’re getting hung up on, you can either do some quick research, or you can put in a place holder answer.

Similarly, if you’ve completed a draft and need to edit, it might be a good time to ask yourself the same questions again:

  • Do I feel prepared to work on this story?
  • Do I feel inspired to work on this story?

The only difference between these and the questions above is that you’re no longer starting on the story. If you’re not prepared, you may still be feeling exhausted from the monumental task of completing the first task. Take a slightly longer break! Enjoy just a little more celebratory food. If you’re not inspired, go back to what got you excited about it in the first place.


Posted in Exercises, Prompts

Exercise: Warning Label

If we were all forced to wear a warning label, what would yours say?

Although the question itself seems broad and might have more than a few humorous answers, it’s a question I found myself pondering not that long ago while procrastinating on the internet. In actuality however, the question serves to force us to look deep and hard at ourselves when given a serious thought.

Turning it from ourselves from our characters however, it also helps with character development. While we might not like to admit that our own warning labels would say things like ‘consumes too much caffeine’ or ‘extremely uncomfortable in social settings’ it gives us a chance to examine our characters, to see what makes them dangerous and what makes them vulnerable.

So as an exercise, go ahead, make a label for them! For a little bit of fun, go ahead and make it like a laundry label. Include the ‘contents’ such as their heritage in percentages. You might also want to include ‘care’ instructions for humor. Finally, the warning itself. Try to write these in vein of the same things you find on furniture (i.e. ‘this article is known to the State of So and So to…).