You are previewing Creative Writing Exercises For Dummies.
O'Reilly logo
Creative Writing Exercises For Dummies

Book Description

Turn your inspiration into a story with clear, expert guidance

Creative Writing Exercises For Dummies is a step-by-step creative writing course designed to hone your craft, regardless of ability. Written by the founder of the Complete Creative Writing Course at London's Groucho Club, this activity-based guide walks you through the process of developing and writing in a wide range of genres including novels, short stories and creative nonfiction. The book includes writing prompts, exercises, mind maps, flow charts and diagrams designed to get your ideas flowing. You'll get expert guidance into character development, plot structure and prose, plus extensive insight into self-editing and polishing your work.

Whether you're a new writer with a seed of an idea you would like to develop, or are looking to strengthen your creative writing skills, this book has you covered. Covering every aspect of narrative, from setting initial goals to formatting a manuscript, Creative Writing Exercises For Dummies provides the tools and instruction you need to make your story the best it can be.

  • Learn to spark your imagination and sketch out ideas

  • Create compelling characters and paint a picture with description

  • Develop your plot and structure and maintain continuity

  • Step back from your work and become your own ruthless editor

  • The rise of e-books has opened up the publishing world, even to non-established writers. If you have a story you're dying to tell but aren't sure how, Creative Writing Exercises For Dummies is the clear, concise solution you need.

    Table of Contents

      1. Introduction
        1. About This Book
        2. Foolish Assumptions
        3. Icons Used in This Book
        4. Beyond the Book
        5. Where to Go from Here
      2. Part I: Getting Started with Creative Writing Exercises
        1. Chapter 1: Preparing to Create Your Written Masterpiece
          1. Planning for the Writing Journey
            1. Setting your writing goals
            2. Locating the appropriate genre
            3. Creating the right title
            4. Discovering the scope of your book
            5. Silencing the inner critic
          2. Reviewing the Creative Writing Process
            1. Taking your first steps
            2. Gearing up for the long haul
            3. Writing in a spiral path
            4. Using creative writing exercises
          3. Living with Creative Confusion
            1. Allowing yourself to make mistakes
            2. Writing what you want to write
        2. Chapter 2: Sketching Out Ideas
          1. Getting Your Creative Juices Flowing
            1. Starting with your first thoughts
            2. Creating a mind map of ideas
            3. Brainstorming: Creative idea sessions
          2. Moving Beyond Words withObjects and Images
            1. Keeping a scrapbook of ideas and materials
            2. Finding images related to your project
            3. Using objects to enhance your writing
          3. Considering the Level of Research Required
      3. Part II: Realising That Character Is Everything
        1. Chapter 3: Developing Your Characters’ Backgrounds
          1. Creating Seriously Deep Characters
            1. Detailing your character’s family tree
            2. That reminds me! Exploring characters’ memories
            3. Seeing into a character’s CV
            4. Setting out a character’s timeline
          2. Using Diaries, Letters and Reminiscences in Your Writing
        2. Chapter 4: Creating Drama through Dialogue
          1. Recognising Great Dialogue
          2. Drafting and Developing Dialogue
            1. Talking about dialogue basics
            2. Getting up close and personal: Face-to-face dialogue
            3. Ringing the changes: Phone conversations
          3. Making the Best Use of Dialogue
            1. Deciding where and when conversations happen
            2. Creating and handling conflict
            3. Hinting at what’s hidden: Subtext
        3. Chapter 5: Embodying Your Characters
          1. Building a Body for Your Characters to Inhabit
            1. Inventing and describing major characters
            2. Rounding out minor characters
          2. Getting Under a Character’s Skin
            1. Thinking about emotional make-up
            2. Coping with sickness
          3. Constructing Characters’ Activities
          4. Surrounding Your Characters with Physical Objects
            1. Owning up to your characters’ possessions
            2. Choosing what to wear
        4. Chapter 6: Developing Your Dialogue-Writing Skills
          1. Conveying Individuality and Character through Dialogue
            1. Feeling for foreign accents
            2. Dealing with dialect
            3. Nailing down your use of slang
            4. Getting quirky with speech quirks
          2. Don’t All Shout at Once! Coping with Crowds
          3. Producing Effective Speeches and Monologues
            1. Imparting information
            2. Interviewing and making presentations
            3. Going it alone: Interior monologues
        5. Chapter 7: Conveying Characters’ Thoughts in Style
          1. Exploring Ways to Set Down Characters’ Thoughts
          2. Dramatising Characters’ Thoughts and Feelings Effectively
            1. Thinking in the real world
            2. Gesturing towards body language
            3. Capturing a character’s inner voice
          3. Enjoying the Flexibility of Free Indirect Style
        6. Chapter 8: Choosing and Using Different Points of View
          1. ‘From Where I’m Standing’: The Importance of Taking a View
          2. Experimenting with Voices and Viewpoints
            1. Using ‘I’, the first-person voice
            2. Using ‘you’, the second-person voice
            3. ‘He said, she said’: Using the third-person voice, limited to one character
            4. On the outside looking in: Employing an outside narrator
            5. Five third-person narrative styles
          3. Adopting More Than One Viewpoint
            1. Choosing the number and type of narrators
            2. Balancing and structuring your viewpoints
        7. Chapter 9: Creating Complicated, Well-Rounded Characters
          1. Adding Layers to Your Characters
            1. Revealing depth through experiences
            2. Remembering basic human needs
            3. Looking at different areas of your character’s life
            4. Workplace relationships
            5. Passing the time with hobbies and interests
            6. Confounding expectations and creating contradictions
          2. Depicting Sexuality and Gender
            1. Risking the wrath of your grandmother: Writing about sex
            2. Finding the right words
          3. Considering Other Ways to Add Character Depth
            1. Employing lies, half-truths and evasions
            2. Sharing and keeping secrets
            3. Multiplying misunderstandings
      4. Part III: Painting the Picture with Description
        1. Chapter 10: Navigating the Locations in Your Stories
          1. Choosing and Conveying a Setting
            1. Making your characters feel at home
            2. Travelling to exotic lands . . . by book
          2. Creating a Location’s Fine Detail
            1. Using maps for realism
            2. Imagining and recording the finer points
          3. Inventing Your Own World: Fantasy and Science Fiction
        2. Chapter 11: Appreciating the Power of the Senses
          1. Creating a Colourful, Meaningful World
            1. Giving associations to colours
            2. Colouring in scenes and characters
          2. Listening to Sound and Music on the Page
            1. Sensing scenic sounds
            2. Making musical moments
          3. Sparking Emotions with Smell
          4. Tantalising with Taste and Food
          5. Feeling Your Way with Touch and Texture
        3. Chapter 12: Getting Things Done: Describing Action and Activity
          1. Watching Characters Tackling Everyday Tasks
            1. Homing in on domestic life
            2. Working at creating a work life
            3. Chilling out to reveal character at play
          2. Writing Dramatic Action Scenes
            1. Choosing the best words for action scenes
            2. Controlling a huge cast
          3. Portraying Violence and Its Effects
        4. Chapter 13: Building Character with Objects and Possessions
          1. Giving Your Characters Significant Possessions
            1. Choosing objects to use
            2. Owning objects(and being owned by them)
          2. Remembering to Use Objects to Spark Memories!
          3. Representing Characters: Objects as Symbols
            1. Same object, different meaning
            2. Making use of magical objects and superstitions
            3. Getting(metaphorically) emotional
            4. Experiencing unexpected meetings with objects
          4. Creating Clues to Your Character
            1. Using objects to stand in for aspects of your characters
            2. Seeing things in the dark
        5. Chapter 14: Using Description to Create Atmosphere and . . . and . . . Suspense!
          1. Adding Ambience and Atmosphere
            1. Choosing your words carefully
            2. Enhancing character and atmosphere with description
          2. Foreshadowing Events for Suspense
            1. Omens and prophecies
            2. Anticipating the future with objects and events
          3. Writing in All Weathers and All Year Round
            1. Working with the weather
            2. Using the seasons
          4. Handling the Uncanny
            1. Seeing ghosts
            2. Dabbling in doubles
            3. Conjuring up curious coincidences
            4. Receiving visions and visitations
            5. Creating suspense in your sleep: Dreams and premonitions
        6. Chapter 15: Managing Metaphors, Similes and Symbols
          1. Employing Metaphors to Deepen Your Writing
            1. Entering the world of the metaphor
            2. Finding a controlling metaphor
            3. Avoiding metaphor clichés . . . like the plague!
            4. Personifying: A heading that jumps for joy!
          2. Substituting Similes That Fit Like a Glove
            1. Appreciating the strength of a simile
            2. Making the best use of similes
          3. Standing for Something with Symbols
            1. Using universal symbols
            2. Investigating individual symbols
            3. Dreaming up some dream symbolism
            4. Delving into the deepest of meanings
        7. Chapter 16: Describing the Ineffable: Saying What Can’t Be Said
          1. Handling the Ineffable: When Words Fail
            1. Defining the difficulties of the inexpressible
            2. Attempting to communicate subjective experiences
          2. Revealing the Mysterious with Literary Devices
            1. Defamiliarising to see the world anew
            2. Experimenting with the rhythm of sentences
            3. Listening to the sounds of words
          3. Using the Contradictory to Communicate the Ineffable
            1. Playing with paradox
            2. Creating ambiguity
      5. Part IV: Developing Your Plot and Structure
        1. Chapter 17: Writing a Gripping Opening
          1. Introducing the Art of the Opening
            1. Starting somewhere, anywhere
            2. Locating a great place to start
            3. Avoiding common mistakes
          2. Discovering Openings from the Greats
            1. Making a statement: Philosophical openings
            2. Speaking from the start: Dialogue openings
            3. Intriguing readers with odd-narrator openings
            4. Holding on for an exciting ride: Dramatic events
            5. Beginning with a bang: Firing-squad openings
            6. Setting the scene with descriptive openings
            7. Waking up your readers: Science-fiction openings
            8. Going for the obvious: Statement-of-fact openings
        2. Chapter 18: Plotting Your Way to Great Stories
          1. Intriguing Readers with a Core Question
          2. Propelling Your Plot with Motivation and Conflict
            1. Revealing characters’ motivation
            2. Creating conflict
          3. Handling Plot Coincidences – with Care
          4. Keeping Readers on Their Toes
            1. Making twists and turns
            2. Delivering shocks and surprises
        3. Chapter 19: Making Good (Use of) Time in Your Writing
          1. Working with Time in Conventional Narratives
            1. Jumping over the dull bits
            2. Stretching out with sagas and lifetimes
            3. Living life in one hectic day
          2. Looking Over Your Shoulder at the Past
            1. Handling flashbacks
            2. I knew that would happen! Writing with hindsight
          3. Playing Around with Time
            1. Leaping into the future
            2. Mixing up time
            3. Travelling through time
        4. Chapter 20: Structuring a Longer Work of Fiction
          1. Dividing Your Work into Parts, Chapters and Scenes
            1. Partitioning into parts
            2. Chatting about chapters
            3. Writing complete scenes
          2. Linking Different Narrative Threads
            1. Spinning subplots
            2. Trying different subplot structures
          3. Playing with Structure
            1. Becoming more complex
        5. Chapter 21: Tightening the Tension to Enthral Readers
          1. Introducing the Art of Creating Suspense
          2. Investigating Ways to Turn the Screws
            1. Pushing the narrative for tension’s sake
            2. Sowing clues into the story
            3. Constructing cliffhangers
            4. Creating a gap in the narrative
        6. Chapter 22: Expanding Your Ideas into Larger Narratives
          1. Expanding Your Work with the Characters
            1. Connecting with new characters
            2. Involving characters in new plot lines
            3. Complicating your characters’ lives
            4. Weaving characters into new timeframes
          2. Using Narrative and Plot to Expand Your Story
            1. Bringing in big themes
            2. Threading together themes and subjects
            3. Spanning events with a bridge story
        7. Chapter 23: Approaching the Grand Finale: The End’s in Sight!
          1. Preparing for the End
            1. Climbing aboard the story arc
            2. Bringing all the threads together
            3. Building up to the climax
          2. Producing Your Story’s Highpoint: The Climax
            1. Understanding the climactic scene
            2. Changing everything in a single line
            3. Answering the central narrative question
            4. Throwing in the unexpected
          3. Writing the Final Scene
            1. Tying up loose ends
            2. Choosing your type of ending
          4. Perfecting Your Last Line
            1. Looking at types of great last line
            2. Coming full circle
      6. Part V: Polishing Your Product: Revising and Editing
        1. Chapter 24: Reviewing and Rewriting Your Work
          1. Reacquainting Yourself with Your First Draft
            1. Leaving your first draft alone for a while
            2. Reading your work in one go
            3. Speaking up: Reading your work aloud (but perhaps not in public)
          2. Making Major Changes to Your Initial Draft
            1. Taking a different viewpoint
            2. Changing character and location names
            3. Altering the story’s structure
            4. Considering other large reworkings
          3. Restructuring Your Story: Second Draft
            1. Working on the overall structure
            2. Weaving in those loose threads
            3. Checking the timeline
            4. Fixing fundamental flaws
        2. Chapter 25: Whipping Your Work into Shape
          1. Looking with a Fresh Pair of Eyes
            1. Searching for the obvious and the obscure
            2. Dealing with redundant characters
            3. Considering the order of scenes
          2. Cutting Redundant Material
            1. Stopping overly long dialogue
            2. Trimming interior monologue
            3. Keeping your back story to yourself
            4. Getting to the point: Avoiding summary
            5. Giving out too much information
          3. Adding Necessary Details
          4. Making Your Writing Sparkle
            1. Weeding out clichés
            2. Tightening up your sentences
        3. Chapter 26: Polishing Your Work for Publication
          1. Carrying Out Your Final Read-Through
            1. Correcting continuity errors
            2. Spelling and punctuating correctly
            3. Spotting grammatical errors
          2. Making the Presentation Professional
            1. Complying with publishing conventions
            2. Displaying dialogue
      7. Part VI: The Part of Tens
        1. Chapter 27: Ten Top Aids for Writers
          1. Getting a Notebook – and Using It!
          2. Keeping a Decent Pen on You
          3. Having a Good Dictionary and Thesaurus
          4. Buying the Best Computer and Printer You Can Afford
          5. Blocking Out Your Writing Time in a Diary
          6. Investing in a Desk and Chair
          7. Putting Up a ‘Do Not Disturb’ Sign
          8. Surrounding Yourself with Great Books
          9. Backing Up Your Work Regularly
          10. Drinking Coffee – But Not Too Much!
        2. Chapter 28: Ten Great Ways to Stay the Course
          1. Bribing Yourself with a Major Reward to Finish
          2. Promising Yourself Minor Rewards for Meeting Targets
          3. Banishing the Inner Critic
          4. Finding a Supportive Reader
          5. Accepting the Bad Days Along with the Good
          6. Writing Every Day
          7. Taking a Writing Course
          8. Joining a Writers’ Circle
          9. Searching for a Mentor
          10. Believing in Yourself
      8. About the Author
      9. Cheat Sheet