Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Baggott & Asher Writerly Boot Camp. Day 4

[If you find yourself here, baffled, lost, disoriented,
here's the link to the post that might clarify
what you've just stumbled upon --
complete with pic of Louis Gossett Jr.
and Richard Gere.]

A small note: If you want to share your bits, head on over to the link that I post on Facebook every morning around 9 or 10am. You can decide how much or how little you want to share. You don't have to share ANYthing at all. Not one word. (People have been asking and I had mentioned opening up my comments section but have decided Facebook works just fine.)
I'm there at this link.

Exercises 1-4 will be used in exercise 6.

1. Memory Exercise. This is designed to guide you (goad you) into mucking around where the important, psychologically resonant stuff is stored.

Today, jot a memory of a scar, 3 (non-cliched) coping mechanism.

NOTE: Coping mechanisms are HUGE for fiction writers. Basically they are a way to show not tell. For example, if your character steals things when anxious, you have her pinch an ashtray and you've shown that she's distraught without having to explain her emotions to us in abstract terms.

Like JOBS and WAYS PEOPLE MET, COPING MECHANISMS will be something that you'll need to keep a list of for your entire writerly life.
(At least, I do.)

2. Eavesdropping Exercise. This exercise is ALWAYS the same, every day. Give me 3 things you've overheard. Start a good writerly habit.

This is designed to help get you in the mode of listening and NOTING what you hear. Because some of you do these exercises in the morning (I'm all for freshest brain cells and PAYING YOURSELF FIRST), you might have to do this part of the exercise the day before. Pay attention to things you overhear or bits of conversation or snippets from radio or TV with no other context (an easy way to play catch-up) or the stories people tell or facts they spout off ... Remember cell phones are walking confessionals -- writerly GOLD. Listen to everything. Suffer (some) fools gladly. Trust me on this.

3. Reading as a writer. I'll be mixing this up from day to day, with some repeats. The next three days will be about RESEARCH.

Research an historic or pop culture event and relate it to the life of an ordinary person-character -- someone who may or may not have been there, but whose life was affected nonetheless. You can use examples from your own life -- or that of others around you.

4. Image Exercise. This one is also the same every day -- more or less -- and hopefully habit-forming. Jot 3 images. Look at something closely. Notice something. Pay attention.

Choose at least one thing that's windblown.

5. The Quote. Everyday I will provide a quote and either a little rant on it or an exercise paired with it.

“A good writer sells out everybody he knows sooner or later.” Alice McDermott
Think about it. Come up with a good story someone's told you -- or 3 -- change the details, apply the story to another set of characters, time or place ...

6. Quilting Exercise. This will always be the same but the parts will change daily.

Pick and choose from the things you've jotted so far -- those disparate elements -- and use them to create something. But don't force it too hard. Have some faith in the resonance of these things in and of themselves. These elements have all been dredged to the surface. They're bobbing in your brain. Start writing something even if you don't know what it is. Let these things bounce in and out. Work. Row.