Write On!

NaNoWriMo is almost upon us, and in honour of National Novel Writing Month, I thought I’d share a couple of silly writing exercises that I came up with for our teen writing event next week. They probably won’t get anyone ready for the Giller Prize, but they will hopefully elicit a few laughs and break the ice a little at our event!

Step 1: Make the cut

  • Cut out pictures of people from discarded magazines – fashion spreads and advertisements are great sources of offbeat images. Cut out enough pictures so that everyone attending your event will have at least one picture (plus a few extras in case of drop-ins). Put all your cut out pictures in an envelope.
  • Try not to cut out images of famous or recognizable people.

Step 2: Pick your picture

  • Each participant draws a random picture from the envelope. If you cut out some pretty weird pictures like I did (thank you high concept fashion spreads!), there should be a few confused looks at this point.

Step 3: Who are you?

  • Working from the picture they selected, participants create a character. Encourage them to name and describe their character, both externally and internally, and create a back story for him or her.  The time spent on this part of the exercise will depend on the length of your event, the size of your group, and the age/writing level of your participants.

Step 4: What the heck is going on??

  • Now that they have created a character, participants build a scene based on what they think is going on in the image. Again, the length and level of detail of this exercise will depend on your program and your audience.

Step 5: Pair, Share and Compare

  • If you would like participants to share their writing after the exercise, be sure to let the group know before you start the exercise – you don’t want your event to feel like a pop quiz! Depending on the size of your group, you might ask for volunteers, or break participants into pairs or smaller groups, to support anyone who might be intimidated speaking in front of a large group.

And there you have it! Nothing ground-breaking, just a fun way to use up some discarded magazines and have some fun while honing our craft.

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