If you haven’t noticed already, these are just about my favorite thing ever. To tie in with my upcoming article on Setting, I’m presenting this collection of writing exercises.
Prompt: A man just committed murder besides a lake. Describe the lake and surroundings through his perspective, but make no direct mention of the murder.
Purpose: Demonstrate the way character vastly changes perspectives of setting.
Prompt: Two friends visit a rundown building in the slums. The first friend has been having hard times lately, and this building is his inheritance from his father. The second friend has just has the best day of his life. Describe the building through their dialog.
Purpose: Practice indirect description through dialog, and again, show the ways characters see setting differently.
Prompt: Write a character sketch of animal that is not a common pet.
Purpose: Practice characterization through things besides dialog. Characterizing an animal can force you to describe the animal through its actions and movements.
Prompt: Write a dialog between two characters where they grapple with a difficult issue, but avoid addressing it directly. An example would be a large family inheritance.
Purpose: Hopefully this illustrates some of the subtler aspects of dialog. People say a lot through what they don’t say, and other subtle cues.
Prompt: Pick a fear of yours, then write about it coming true from a third person perspective.
Purpose: Some issues are hard to write about. It’s good to pick deliberately hard or sensitive topics as practice.
Prompt: Write a craigslist or equivalent newspaper ad that your character might write.
Purpose: See how much about your character you can convey through things like what he wants, what he owns, or what he is looking for.
Prompt: Describe the setting the moment a character steps outside, after being inside.
Purpose: Practice changing scene.
Prompt: A friend of yours is wanted in four states for a crime. Then he shows up at your doorsteps and asks if he can stay a while. Write the scene where he asks.
Purpose: An uncomfortable conversation had better sound uncomfortable, or else you aren’t writing it correctly.
I’d love to hear any you might have. I’ve trying to build an extensive collection.