Thursday, April 02, 2009

Novel exercises

In working on my novel, I'm realizing that one working style is not going to carry me through the whole process. I started out able to write scenes in the order I imagined them appearing in the book. I got through the first few chapters doing that. Then, I got completely blocked. The idea of tackling the next chapter scared me because I didn't know enough about what was going to happen there.

So I stopped writing for a week or so. Then my husband asked me to read an exercise he was working on for a class he's taking on writing the mystery novel. The exercise entailed writing one scene, about a time when the main character felt his or her life changing very quickly. I read B's scene and was totally inspired. Not only was his scene good, it reminded me that I don't have to write a chapter at a time. I can write scene by scene. One scene! That's all I have to do to keep going.

And that is what I have been doing. Imagining one scene that I believe will occur in the book, thinking about it over the course of a day or two, and then writing it out on paper. I'm saving each as an individual Word file, organized into folders around the theme of the scenes or whose in them, such as "mother", "father", "break up", etc. That way, when I go to plug them into chapters, I can find the pieces that belong in each.

B is doing the same thing, and he's looking for more exercises to give him ideas about the kinds of scenes to write. So what do you think? What ideas to you have for exercises in scene writing? Best Blogger Tips


Erin said...

Here's a great exercise that works best with genre fiction, but can be applied to any writing:

grab a novel in the same genre off the shelf. Open it to a random page, and read the scene. Identify what type of scene it is and where it falls in the book. Then write your own, for your novel. Helps with structure.

Writer Bug said...

Thanks Erin! That sounds great. Can you go into a little more detail about what you mean by "type of scene"? Do you mean character development vs. plot development?w

Erin said...


By type of scene, I mean how it fits in with the novel/what purpose it serves: revelatory, backstory, character introduction, character development, raising tension, climactic moment...etc. Does that help?

Erin said...

Also...for a genre, specifically a mystery, you want to look at what purpose it serves in solving the crime/setting up the mystery itself, red herring, clue, etc.

Writer Bug said...

Awesome. Thanks Erin! That does help.