duck, duck, practice

August 9th, 2012 by Jan

When you see a duck swimming on the lake, or in my case on the ocean, it moves with grace and strength. Of course the story says that under the surface, they are paddling like all get out.

heather suggested I practice some writing exercises from the inter-web. She’s a wise woman, I’ve learned to follow to her suggestions. So I googled up some writing exercises. I don’t usually write fiction — more like “creative non-fiction” but practice is practice.

Like a duck on the water, I am easy with calm promise, and in the solo world of my cave, I’m throwing words on paper, the way Dave Harris tossed his students around, one right after another. I’ll see what sticks!

This should keep me busy for a while, but first I need to look up the word, verisimilitude.

Exercise #1
Write a word portrait of one of your great grandparents. All the better if you know only one tiny fact: that she lived in Scott County, Tennessee or that he came to the U.S. rather than be conscripted into the Czar’s army. Perhaps this word portrait should be a short poem or the beginning of a short story.

Exercise #2
Dreams are very useful in fiction, as well as fun to write. Sometimes we use dreams to give verisimilitude– they are, after all, a part of life. They can also be used to show a character’s mood or even to make a point, as a sort of allegory in the mind of a character. Write a dream for a character in a piece of fiction you are writing or planning.

Exercise #3
Imagine that you are lying in a hammock, gazing up the trunk of tree that holds the hammock. You are profoundly relaxed; summer is almost over. Your mind drifts with the slow rocking of the hammock. Your spirit soars toward the top of the great white pine. Suddenly….

Exercise #4
Sit in your car or on a public bench and observe the people going in and out of a store or public building. Pick out one who catches your attention, and write about who you imagine that person is– where do they live? What are they like? Where are they going next?

Exercise #5
Think of an important event in your life or in a project you are writing. Write the weather for the day it happened. This may require closing your eyes, counting down from ten, trying to empty your mind– whatever works for you to become focused. This exercise, of course, is not just about the weather, but about going deeper into the past by using the sense details of what it felt like to be in that place at that time.


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