Thursday, May 19, 2011

A writing exercise and how it worked.

The first class of my new session was last night. I had so much fun! One of the things we did was use this blog post from - specifically Melissa Koosmann's take on Harry Potter: good telling and how that complements showing. The exercise: we pick a word out of my trusty bag, take a moment to daydream the image to describe. Then we come up with a telling sentence. This can be bland and boring. Contrast it with the showing if possible. Then detail the image. Timed: 10 minutes

It was more prescriptive writing than we normally do in class and was a little hard to grasp at first. Here's how it worked for me: My word was "coughing." My sentence about it threw me right into a voice and I spent too long telling, but once I realized, I got to showing. It was cliched but interesting for me to approach a beat like that, setting up the purpose before choosing the details. Afterward we all read and discussed. I learned as much from examining others' attempts as making my own. Ryan's topic sentence worked really well. His word was "nighttime." A bland sentence about a job. Followed by details of nighttime and secrecy. It gave his showing immediate meaning and drama. His paragraph described a robbery.

Another purpose a style like this might serve is to plot scenes. Could a series of these "topic sentences" provide a framework to the whole emotional arc of a character or reader to which I can apply the showing details after? I want to try.

I learn so much from my class. :)


  1. Oh, I'm horrible about telling. I mean, sometimes there should be a little telling, but I have to reign myself in. I think it's because I get so little time to talk around here, that I just want to tell somebody something! :)

  2. Love it! Next time can you show examples from you or the classmates of some exercises? I think that would be cool to see!
    Again, I wish I was closer so I could attend your class!

  3. This is a great exercise! And one that if applied bit by bit to a WIP, would be very revealing.

  4. awesome exercise, Tina! I'm with Kelly - wish I was closer so I could come, too!!!

  5. Anita - Haha! And you always cut your self short in your blog posts too. You show such control! But you've got great voice - it allows you to tell a whole heckuva lot and we will listen!

    Kelly - I was so tempted to type my exercise up for you right here and past it in, but I have two big deadlines today so I don't have the time. Later. And good idea!! The writing is so fun and imperfect.

    Thanks, Barbara! I'm gonna try and apply it. I will let you know how it goes.

    Marisa - We are gonna figure out how to write together someday! The TPR conference, perhaps in Denver???

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