Got stuck on your current work in progress? Here are two writing exercises to get your creative juices flowing.
If you’ve got a long, complicated story in the works, sometimes it’s fun to take a break from writing the main plot and make up a couple side stories. This can be a good way to develop your characters and the world around them. Plus, in ten years you’ll be able to release a short story collection that all your fans will have to read.
If you’re stuck at some point in the longer story, writing shorter stories can also provide you with a way around your writer’s block so you can get back on track. Or at the very least, provide some entertainment until your writer’s block is over. These two prompts are a great way to do that.
“What Could Go Wrong?” : The Game
If your writing style is anything like mine, you’ve probably found yourself in a situation where you had a long list of well-developed, complex characters, a painstakingly intricate setting, and exactly zero ideas what to do with any of it. This is, honestly, how most of my stories have started. I love creating alternative worlds and I never really got over my imaginary-friend stage, but I am not good at writing plots.
Here’s one solution I’ve found. Conflict is the soul of drama, isn’t it? Maybe you already have a sense of what will go wrong – social issues in your setting or two characters who hate each other – but don’t know how to put those things into action. If so, the best way to jumpstart your plot is to make something go dramatically, drastically wrong.
Start a list of what could go wrong. Maybe you could try focusing on your setting, and figure out how different aspects of that setting could conspire to set up a massive catastrophe early in the story. You could go through the cast, character by character, and figure out what sort of bad decisions they might make. (This tends to be great fun, even if you’re in the middle of the story.) Or, just put your protagonist in the worst situation you can imagine and watch them try to come out of it in one piece.
Authorial Truth or Dare
WCGW is a useful way to beat writer’s block if you’re stuck in the middle of the story or struggling to start a long story. If you’re stuck looking for a short story idea though, or just looking for a way to pass an hour or two, Authorial Truth or Dare is a fun way to generate ideas.
There are two categories, as in regular Truth or Dare. “Truth” is a list of questions you’ll have to answer about a character of your choice. “Dare” is a list of actions or situations – generally, the stupider and more outlandish, the better. If you’ve picked “Dare,” pick a character or a few characters and write them into that situation.
If you’ve got any friends who are writers, authorial truth or dare can work with two people. If you, like me, have no friends, you can make your own lists and alternate between truth and dare. The quality of the results won’t be particularly great, but that’s not the point.
It’s fun to write stupid, outlandish things, and sometimes your story may need a little stupidity to keep it interesting. If you’re getting bored trying to write something good, try using one of these games to let off steam.