3 tips, 3 exercises, 3 days left

With three days left on this Writer’s March, here are three different writing exercises that I got from Daniel Mueller.

Mueller, a phenomenal teacher/writer, will usually give small writing exercises to the class during his workshops. I used to be very resistant to these writing exercises. I understood that they had a specific purpose (which I’ll list each individual one below), but it took me awhile to understand how to make a writing exercise work for me. And so, for today’s post, here’s “3 Ways to make a writing exercise useful” followed by “3 Mueller writing exercises.”

3 Ways to make a writing exercise useful.

  1. Use them to generate an entirely new story
  2. Use them for a moment in your story that is lacking. Think of that scene that bores you and try using the writing exercise to spark something new in that scene.
  3. Use them to learn something. Think of the word exercise, which according to my Mac’s dictionary is an “activity requiring physical effort, carried out esp. to sustain or improve health and fitness.” Try thinking of them as activities to sustain and improve the health and fitness of your work.

3 Mueller writing exercises

  1. The snake in the chest of drawers (I always want to call it a “chester drawer.”) For the life of me, I can’t remember why this is called this. There’s a story that involves a snake in the chest of drawers, but the general idea is that a character (either intentionally or unintentionally) discovers an object that reveals something important about another character. (This one is an exercise in using an object to launch tension)
  2. The secret (a two scene exercise). Similar to the one above (or even using the one above). First, write a scene where one character witnesses a second character doing something they are not supposed to do. Second, write another scene where the first character confronts the second character about what they saw, but the second character DOES NOT tell them. (This one is an exercise in sustaining tension.)
  3. The bad idea. Write a scene where one character is trying to convince another character of/into something that is a bad idea. (This one an exercise in character conflict.)

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