Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Time Waster or Writing Helper... You Decide


So many of you are prolific writers and I’m sure you never get “stuck’ or frustrated to the point of having to do any sort of writing exercise to get your mind and heart into writing each day. But, there are some of us “lesser” writers who do struggle and need an extra “OOMPH” to get us warmed up.

On Charlotte Dillion's website she has some helps for writers called “Writing Prompts”. The one that caught my attention was where you make a list of occupations and a list of situations where your hero and heroine could meet. After you write out these lists, cut them in separate strips and turn them upside down. Now, take two strips from the occupations lists and one strip from the “meet” list. The first occupation strip is the heroine’s and the second is the hero’s. Do not switch them! That’s cheating.

So, you now have an occupation for the heroine and one for the hero and where/how they meet. Some of the suggestions for the occupation list could be…

Food Service Worker
Mail Room Clerk
Drag Queen
Erotic Dancer

Whatever you can come up with for a list.

The “Meeting” list could be…

Meet by chance
Both reach for the same veggies at the grocery store
Newly made neighbors
Blind Date
Family interference
One hires the other to do work for them
Meet at wedding
Meet at a bar
Held hostage together
One rescues the other from some awful situation

Whatever you come up with for a list.

Now, take the strips and match them up and write a scene of this meeting encounter.

This is a good way to get the grey matter sloshing around in your brain and your writing juices flowing.

After you write the warm up scene you may be ready to just jump "write" in and get busy on your WIP. Hey, it could happen. :)

If you want to be creative today, or waste a little time, go ahead and make a ridiculous match out of the prompts I’ve listed and write a little rough draft scene to post to the comments section of this blog. It can have as many writer's mistakes in it as you want. You can TELL, instead of SHOW the scene. Whatever. The point is to just get you warmed up a bit.

So, feel free to "throw up on the page" with this exercise and entertain us with your practice scene! :) Not only will it get you writing, but it’s a great way to avoid writing on your WIP if you’re not in the mood for it yet today. LOL

Oh, and if you don't have time or feel like doing the exercise, then maybe you could just post a comment about how you get warmed up each day, or maybe you don't need any warming up at all because you're already such a smokin' writer! :)

What ever you decide...

Happy Writing Wednesday and Happy Halloween!


Paty Jager said...

Great ideas, Piper!

I never got to my own WIP yesterday because more TWRP stuff came up! I'm planning to "carve out" (get it! He He) time today to work on the WIP.

As for warm up- I usually check e-mails and blogs first thing in the morning to get my fingers nimble and my mind working. Then I go feed animals and come back and write. usually! The last few days its been all TWRP- But I'm going to use the week my dh is hunting to write-write-write- so if I start putting up large numbers for words, you'll know why. I won't have to cook, clean, or do laundry for a week and I'll just be sitting with my butt in the chair writing from the time I get up until I go to bed!

Thanks for some good ideas! (Oh and I guess you figured out- I don't have time to do this little exercise, but it looks like fun! Can't wait to see what others do.

Alice Sharpe said...

I get warmed up the way Paty does with the inclusion of many little delays. Piper, your fantasies of what constitutes a working writer are cute! We're all the same basically, it's just a matter of degree.

Okay, this is what I chose without thinking and I won't switch it even though I can't imagine what I am going to do with it. But I'll try. And I won't rewrite as other work looms (btw, clever idea for a blog...)

She is a pilot, he is a firefighter. They are meeting by chance over the same veggies at the counter:

She saw them from afar and immediately rolled her grocery cart their way. Peaches. Fresh form some South American country, this late in the year, flown in by jet, not some little Cessna like her plane.

As she approached their mile high island, the tantalizing fragrance of summer days and juicy pies beckoned to her. She would choose four perfect specimens for the business tycoons she was flying across state this afternoon and present one to each of them as they boarded. They'd expect dry martinis, of course. But they'd get peaches. And napkins.

Three were easy to choose, but the fourth proved elusive. This one was too ripe, that one too hard. All seemed to have sprouted blemishes and bruises. And then she saw it, near the bottom of the heap, round as a baby's cheek, gold kissed with pink. The fourth peach.

As she reached for it, another hand made a quicker journey. Male fingers closed around her peach and she turned abruptly, upsetting the entire display. As she took in a fireman, face sooty, uniform complete except for gloves and a face mask, two hundred peaches cascaded around their feet until the only peach not on the floor or nestled in the bag clutched to Lulu's chest rested in the fireman's hand.

"I believe that's mine," she said.

With a slow, sexy smile curving his truly fine lips, he handed her the peach.

Lisa Pulliam said...

Those are great tips, Piper! I've never thought of doing it that way. It would be nice to do that as a warm-up out of the characters I'm focusing on, just to get my juices flowing. I've tried many things to warm-up, most recently stopping mid-scene the day before and trying to use that as a trigger to get me going the next day. Not working. Charlotte has such helpful stuff on her site! I'm going to try and post a scene in a while. About to go help a coworker decorate for her son's wedding tonight. Happy Halloween!

Paty Jager said...

WOw! Nice warm up, Alice! And I mean that in every sense! LOL

Danita Cahill said...

I never do exercises on my own, only at conferences, workshops, or once in awhile on this blog.

When I am in the midst of a book, I am anxious to get to writing each day -- I want to find out what's going to happen next.

This is an interesting exercise though, and if someone were looking for a new story idea, or wanted to warm up their writing fingers, I can see where this could be helpful.

Thanks, Piper!

Now, I think you need to do one of these exercises yourself. And post it. Chop, chop! ha!!

Anonymous said...

Food Service Worker—(student chef)-- heroine
Mail room clerk-- hero
Meet at grocery store reaching for the same eggplant

Hero is going for his master’s degree and works in a mail room to support himself. (I can’t just leave him a mail room clerk, icky) He wants the eggplant to make Roasted Eggplant and Garlic With Pasta. Yum.

Heroine's going to school to become a chef. She has a big final coming up and needs the eggplants to practice making Ratatouille. Lots and lots of Ratatouille.

Emily rushed through Safeway’s automatic slider doors and latched onto the first grocery cart she could wriggle free from the others. She would not stop at Starbucks. No. Not today. Her quest for Ratatouille ingredients would not be thwarted by the tempting scent of her favorite brew. Damn anything or anybody on the path leading to her eggplants.

“Ah, come to me babies,” she cooed as she lifted each eggplant and placed them in their own individual plastic bags. Emily focused all her attention on the shiny, dark purple fruits.

“Mama’s gonna take you home and treat you right.” As she reached for the last egg-shaped orb, her small hand latched onto a big, rough, ink-stained hand instead, and it had a death grip on her eggplant.

“Excuse me, but that’s my eggplant,” she said through gritted teeth and stared up at the tallest, long haired, gorgeous guy she’d ever encountered. Oh crap. She was toast. No way. Stay focused, her brain shouted to her hormones.

“Possession is 9/10 of the law,” his baritone voice vibrated her soul as his dark eyes twinkled into hers.

“Yeah, and that’s a really lame saying; besides, I was here first. So hand it over.” She held out her hand. See, she could stay strong. No problem. But he didn’t let go.

Ugh. Now a normal human would realize when they were being an ass and just give over. But not this guy. Jerk. Although, he’s a really good-looking jerk she pondered as she tried to pry his fingers loose from her eggplant.

“Wow, you must really like eggplant,” he said as he loosed her grip and dared to lift the eggplant into his own basket. He didn’t even attempt to put it in it’s own little plastic bag for crap sakes! What could he be thinking?

“Look buddy, I really need that eggplant, so play nice, hand it over and we’ll all be happy.”

“Hmm…,” his inky hand rubbed his stubble covered chin. He pursed his mouth to the side and said, “You’ll be happy because you’ll have all eight eggplants. But, I’ll have to create and eat my Eggplant with Garlic Pasta-- minus the eggplant-- and that’s not really the point of the dish,” his dry humor amused her; and he was planning to actually make something, out of eggplant even, for himself? Very impressive.

“Fine,” she sighed in mock frustration and turned to go, but she looked back over her shoulder and he smiled at her. She melted. “Okay, you win.”

He laughed, “I’m not trying to win. Here, you can have it,” he reached back into his cart and held it out to her.

“Sheeyeah, right,” she rolled her eyes and snorted a playful snort. “Like I would take it now that I’ve made such an idiot of myself. No thanks. I really don’t need it anyway,” she crossed her arms under her chest so she wouldn’t be tempted to take it afterall.

“Well, thanks,” he grinned and set it back in the cart, next to the garlic that was sans plastic bag, too.

“So, tell me,” she leaned over to peer into his cart, “Do you have something against plastic bags?”

He leaned in close to her head and took a gander at the contents of his cart. Oh man he smelled good. “Um… I really hadn’t thought about it, but now that you mention it-"

He didn’t finish. He just turned to look at her. Gorgeous. Yep, that’s what he was. Just, gorgeous.

“Would you like to get a cup of coffee or something,” he pointed his thumb over his shoulder and gestured towards the little tables at Starbucks.

“Yeah, eggplant thief, I would. Thanks. By the way, my name's Emily," she stuck out her hand to shake his.

"Ah, Emily.” He smiled again. Man, that smile was going to kill her. “Nice to meet you. I’m Jack. He took her hand between his warm palms and kissed the inside of her wrist. Again with the melting.

"So tell me, Emily of the Eggplants, just what does one do with eight of those things?"

The End.

They lived happily ever after and served eggplant at their wedding.

Okay, not perfect, kinda dorky, but a good exercise none-the-less.

Anonymous said...

Paty-- You've been running so fast I don't know how you stay sane. You're amazing!

Thanks for sharing your warm-up tips.

I hope you accomplish all you set out to do this week! :)

Karen Duvall said...

Great execution of the exercise, Alice! I'm suddenly very hungry for peaches. Ahem.

When I'm having trouble getting into my wip, it's often due to a plot problem. And those are hard to fix. It means putting the story engine in reverse to get back to my unstuck point. So far that's not happening with the book I'm working on now.

My key to staying with my wip is not to take much time away from it. The longer I'm away from the story, the longer it takes for me to get into it again. Momentum is key for me.

I do about the same thing Paty and Alice do: check email and blogs first, then jump right in to the ms. I read 5 to 10 pages from before I stopped and then take it from there. One thing I've discovered that really helps me is to have a scene or two pretty well laid out in my mind beforehand. No notes or diagrams, just visualization. I do this when I go to bed at night, just before falling asleep, and also as soon as I wake up in the morning. There's a technique that goes with this scene planning which I'll cover in tomorrow's blog. 8^)

I've managed to write one to two thousand words a day for the past several days and I really want to keep up that pace. If I do, I'll be done with this book by the end of November. Then the fun part begins. Hee hee.

Anonymous said...

Alice-- Okay, believe it or not, I didn't choose the same "meeting" as you on purpose. LOL But, it was a fun way for my hero and heroine to meet.

I loved your scene, especially this part...

They'd expect dry martinis, of course. But they'd get peaches. And napkins.

The napkins comment was hilarious to me.

Now I'm hungry for peaches! :)

Thanks for playing along and sharing today.

Anonymous said...

Lisa-- You're such a nice person. It's a lot of work to decorate for a wedding. I don't envy your duty today, but how sweet of you to help! :)

I'll look for your comment later if you decide you want to play along. If you run short on time and energy, no worries!

Thanks for your comments!

Anonymous said...

Danita-- I think it's so cool that you can be excited to get right back into your WIP each day. I don't blame you for not wanting to do the exercise, and I hate being put on the spot at conferences and stuff too. Ugh! Scary.

Thanks for the challenge. I've been trying to get it done all morning, but the four-year-old has been very demanding today. ;)

Have fun on your WIP!

Anonymous said...

Karen-- Ah, you snuck in there on me when I wasn't looking! LOL

What you said about not staying away from your WIP for long is sooo true! Great advice!

I love your idea of visualizing before hand so you can jump back in.

Thanks for your comments!

Lori Barber said...

Piper, thanks for sharing some warm up ideas with us. I use the same warm up ideas as others have already shared. The mix and match idea is cleaver so I'll give it a whirl.

He's the designer. She's the sheriff. One hires the other to do work for them.

He wanted to run when the door knocker sounded of tin and shifted a few degrees after his release. Instead, curiosity and intrigue won and heightened in the greetings offered by a tiny woman in a sheriff's uniform.

He never knew what to expect each time a potential client opened their door. One thing he never anticipated was a holster and pistol strapped to a woman's thin waist and slender leg. Her large green eyes stared up at him and chased adrenaline through his veins. Guilt charged into his gut for no reason.

He swallowed hard and stepped inside. An overdose of citrus infused the space, then dissipated into the cluttered disaster zone around him. He snatched quick glimpses around the room overstuffed with furniture and accented with piles and piles of books. A true designers nightmare or challenge, depending on how one wanted to approach the chaos.

In valiant pursuit to seek out a hint of eclectic balance and order, he wondered if he'd walked into a crime scene.

A dead body would do nothing to enhance the lack of style and design pleading for desperate intervention. If the sheriff wanted help with the case he was her man.

Paty Jager said...

Lori! As always a cute post and what a great play on words!

Piper, you have such a strong voice! I love it!

Paty Jager said...

Woo hoo! 2,468 words today! Now I'm off to make cookies. My poor husband will probably faint when he sees fresh baked goodies, it's been so long since I made anything!

Alice Sharpe said...

Paty -- You smoked today! Congratulations!

Piper, your story was such fun. I love the way you write and the way your characters, esp. the females, talk to themselves. it's delightful.

Karen, I've been thinking more and more about knowing a scene ahead of writing it. I even make a few notes. I can't wait to see what you say about it tomorrow.

Danita, that sense of discovery you mentioned is priceless and I hope you keep it forever and ever.

And Lori, what a distinctive voice you have and what a clever way with words.

Fun blog, Piper!

Danita Cahill said...

Piper, dabbler or not, who cares? You are a writer girl. Not just a reader. What can I say to persuade you to stay? Whatever it is, consider it said.

Danita Cahill said...

Your blog tomorrow sounds interesting, Karen, I'm looking foreard to it.

Editing is the FUN part to you? Oh, you poor misguided thing. (Just kidding. I grumble a lot about rewrites, but I kinda like 'em too).

Danita Cahill said...

I loved the part in Alice's scene too about the peaches and napkins. Very cute.

Wow, Lisa a Halloween wedding, huh? Do tell about the decorations. Did the bride and groom wear costumes or all black?

Danita Cahill said...


Very cute!