Tag Archives: faeriecon

Quick and Dirty (okay, mostly quick, but made you look) with a bonus repurposed writing workout

So, no new Writing Workout yesterday because I was here all weekend:


With people like this:



Doing things like this:

hair party












(photo credit to Sander Feinberg for all but hair shot)




And next weekend I’ll be HERE.

Doing things like this:

At the Book Signing

Going to panels like THIS.

And readings like THIS.

And parties like THIS.

So, in the meantime, here’s a recycled writing workout I think you’ll enjoy…


When you get to what I call the “sloggy” part of your story, when inspiration appears to have left the building and you are dragging yourself to the page, it’s time for some good old fashioned spontaneous writing.

(even if you’re not in the slog, you can still play along)

Pick whatever piece of writing you’re working on. See where you are and think about what comes next.

Step 1) Set your timer for 5-7 minutes. At the top of your page, write the start: The scene that needs to be written is… because…

After you finish with that thought, write This scene needs to be written because… and start the next thought. Keep writing This scene needs to be written because… until you hit something, an idea, and then take off! At this point, no more punctuation. Just write in one long stream of consciousness. REMEMBER to write without stopping, without crossing out, without editing. If you get stuck, you can always start again with This scene needs to be written because


The scene that needs to be written is the scene where Mabbe confronts Croilus because it gets Mabbe outside of her burl. This scene needs to be written because it’s where Zhay learns that Brigitta was telling the truth. It needs to be written because it’s where Zhay loses it and all his anger about being abandoned by the Ancients bursts forth and he attacks Mabbe but she’s too strong for him and she strikes him down and when that happens the spell seed falls to the ground and they…

Step 2) Set your timer for 5-7 minutes. Pick one of the following as your start line:

In this scene my protagonist learns…
In this scene my protagonist reveals…
In this scene my protagonist proves…

You can also put in another character if that works better for you. In this scene my villain… my antagonist… my protagonist’s mother… feel free to make it work for you.

The important thing is that a character learns or reveals or proves something. This will help move your story forward.

Again, total stream of consciousness, no punctuation, no editing, no stopping. Allow yourself to write the first thing that comes out of your pen. It’s not permanent! We’re getting ideas


In this scene Brigitta proves that she can fight the force of the green zynthia and she believes it has to do with her having both air and water elements now and she discovers that she is more powerful than before and the extra element has made it easier to manipulate her environment and there is no way to give it back and maybe it was her first true element…

Step 3) Set your timer for 3-5 Minutes. It’s time for a “What if” wild flow! By wild I mean don’t discount any thought or idea. Let the What Ifs fall where they may. This is a list that you write as fast as you can. You can simply start with What if… on each line, or use any of the following prompts:

During this scene, what if…
After this scene, what if…
After my protagonist reveals ____, what if…
After my protagonist learns ____, what if…
After my protagonist proves _____, what if…


After Brigitta reveals that she can overpower the zythia…
what if Croilus realizes the prophesy is coming true?
What if Devin and Ferris attack Zhay?
What if Brigitta thinks Croilus is going to attack the White Forest?
What if Zhay tries to kill Croilus?

Usually at least one lightbulb goes on during this exercise. Just let go and allow the ideas to flow. Write as fast as you can, keeping pen on the page. Afterwards, you can go back and mark items that you like.

You should now be sufficiently pumped to write the next scene. I know I always am.

Have a great weekend!

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Filed under weekly workout, writing exercises, writing life

Weekend Workout: Cameo Characters and the Hidden Scene

This weekend I’m at FaerieCon West in Seattle (the urban version of FaerieWorlds). One of the VIP guests is prolific mythic fiction writer Charles De Lint, most famous for creating the imaginary town of Newfolk and telling so many stories about its population and their supernatural issues that he’s actually lost count of how many tales have sprung from it. The stories of the residents are intertwined, sometimes pulling a cameo from one story for a protag in the next.

From GoodReads: The books have all been written in such a way that you should be able to pick up any one and get a full and complete story. However, characters do reoccur, off center stage as it were, and their stories do follow a sequence.

I like this on so many levels. To create an imaginary world that inspires such a multitude of stories existing simultaneously and separately. This makes so much sense to me, though, as I often look out at the world and wonder about each person’s story. The peripheral characters in my own life – the people I run across at the supermarket, the post office, the traffic light – all have their own stories that briefly, sometimes once and never again, slip through mine.

Do you create your cameo characters with as much love as you do your main characters? Do you see them as individuals each carrying baggage and a back story? Or are they simply flat, cookie-cutter cliches tossed in without much thought?

I think we should care about all our characters. And, yes, it’s true that I predominantly give more weekend workout time to the main ones. But when I’m working on a story and a minor character appears, I’ll often stop and write a little paragraph about them as an exercise. Something about their childhood, who their parents are, their physical quirks. Just to get to know them a little. Like that balding man on the corner with a brown stain on his pants and a slight limp. The one who gets on the bus and checks out the cute chubby lady reading from her iPad. That guy. What’s his story?


This it a bit different than the past several exercises. This time, I want you to pick three cameo characters. The ones who only grace a few pages of your novel.

I want you to write what I call a “hidden scene” about each character. This is a scene that won’t end up anywhere in your story, but will give a little insight into who they are and make them a little more real.

In each “scene” they are alone and they pick up an object. The object is precious to them. The scene should include something that describes them physically at that moment and an action that includes the object.

Don’t think too much, don’t edit, don’t cross out. Give yourself at least 7 minutes for each one.

If you don’t know where to start, just write:

CHARACTER walks across the room and picks up OBJECT.

(this exercise can be used with your protag or other main characters as well, I just thought it would be nice to give some stage time to the supporting ones)

One thing Charles De Lint said about when he creates characters, is that he doesn’t have to know every single thing about them (i.e. what brand of toothpaste they use). Rather, he likes to learn about his characters like he’s meeting them at a party.

I like that.


Filed under weekend workout, writing life