Monday, April 15, 2013

This Week's Writer's Exercise

I belong to a Writer's Workshop at the local public library.  It meets on Thursday mornings at 11 a.m. and has been the high point of my week for months now.  Over the last couple of months, those of us with WIPs have been doing exercises pertaining to them.

Last week, we wrote endings to our our books.  There's no guarantee that the endings we wrote are the ones we will use, but it was a compelling thing to do.  Completely different from writing a beginning in so many ways AND, if one is writing a series, sown with the seeds of the next book. 

Endings seem to have valves, where tension is let off in a controlled (but not controlling!) way.  Endings are peaceful and perhaps even resigned.  They are, after all, endings.  AND, since I am both an info-dumper and a banjo-player, endings are balm to an overly-expository writer.  They are chock-full of possibilities that the reader already knows about, so the temptation to "word-herd" the reader is gone.

Now we're working on characters ... index cards with physical descriptions and connecting lines to describe the relationships between the characters.  Sort of like those wonderful family trees one finds at the beginning of a Sharon Kay Penman work of historical fiction.

It turns out the entire room our group meets in has walls of fabric and pushpins can be used EVERYWHERE, all over ALL the walls. Kelly, the leader of our group and head of Library Services, said, "Yes.  Every bit of the wall.  Go for it."  I can't wait.

The problem for me is: I have so many characters, so here's what I've decided I'm going to do:  I will have three sizes of index card to choose from.  That's right ... I'm going to cut some cards in half and some in quarters. Now this isn't to say the characters will remain a particular "size" over the series, but for the current WIP, I have an excellent idea of the "weight" each character brings to the story.

Of course, this could just be the lamest idea ever, but I really want to give it a whirl.  I love a good visual, and the mental picture of a glorious union of the Excel file of my characters, index cards, sharpies and tumbtacks is already dancing in my head.

1 comment:

  1. Okay, now I really want a room where I can stick pushpins into all the walls. :)