Monday, June 25, 2007

Week Five Assignments

Okay, this week I'm going to give you something a wee bit tedious (but OH so helpful in the long run) and something really fun. You with me? Smashing.

First, if you've been doing the warm-up exercises, you are going to find it's getting harder to locate information within them. Or you might forget stuff even though you circled it 3 times in red. So this week, I want you to start typing up your handwritten exercises.

What?!? you ask. Well then why did I hand write them in the first place, you taskmaster?! Because I told you to. And because handwriting and typing are two different things. Editing is too tempting with your hands on the keys. Hand-writing keeps you moving forward.

So for the first 10 or 15 minutes, each time you sit down to write this week, I want you to work on typing up your exercises. I'm asking you to do this now so that you are reminded of where you've been. Jogging the ole memory.

You can leave portions out if you were just blabbing on about not knowing what to write (I get that way sometimes in my exercises). It's up to you. I suggest typing up anything that has to do with the characters and story, though, even if you don't think you'll use it or think it's a stupid idea.

Trust me, it sounds like a pain, but it will be worth it. (More on that later, all you have to do right now is type them up. I have a master plan. I won't lead you astray, I promise.)

NOTE: I keep having AHA moments while I'm doing my warm-ups, so I've taken to writing a big red AHA on the page every time this happens. That way, I can easily spot it later.

Now for something really fun!!! (Don't you hate it when people use extra exclamation points? This should be outlawed. As if one could have that much excitement!!!!!!!! My younger students do it all the time for emphasis in their creative writing.)

For the next 15 - 20 minutes, work on this assignment:

(I must give credit to Geof Miller and Stewart Stern for this one. They give a very similar exercise in their program at University of Washington.)

Take any character you'd like to work on. Protagonist, antagonist, villain, it doesn't matter. Any character you'd like to explore further. Start a file on them on your computer so you can refer to the information later.

Go through the categories below and find the picture that BEST represents your character:

1) ANIMALS (9 photos to choose from)
2) FLOWERS (9 photos to choose from)
3) LANDSCAPES (10 photos to choose from)
4) BUILDINGS AND STRUCTURES (15 photos - or more thru links)
5) MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS (tons to choose from!)
6) WEATHER (tons to chose from!)
7) FOOD (tons to chose from!)
8) VEHICLES (too many to choose from)

My younger students get confused with this one and start picking things their character might LIKE (as in prefer). This is a metaphor exercise. Pick the object does your character most resembles.

When you pick the picture, stick it in your computer file so you can use it later. Go on your gut instinct. I tried to limit the amount of photos to make it easier, but that wasn't always possible.

After you've picked all your images, complete 1 or 2 timed writings (7-10 minutes each) using the startline My protagonist is a __________ because....

Sandra is a lily pad because she drifts in and out of life. She doesn't see the big picture, she can only see the sky. She's a dreamer. She has no roots on solid ground. She would drift wherever fate took her, she said one day in a melancholy mood and then she was gone. Just like that...

Feel free to try it using the CHAINING technique (last word in sentence is first word in next) or in one long sentence (no punctuation and connected by conjunctions).

You may be surprised how effective this exercise is. Write for at least 7 minutes. Let it really take you away. This exercise is very free-flowing... like a lily pad on a river staring up into the sky...

After you've done these warm-ups, write your new pages. Set you timer for 20 minutes and work on your script. Then get up, stretch, pee, reheat your coffee and sit down for another 20 minutes.

Have a great week!


more4dan said...

I'm one of the stragglers. Even though I started last Thursday, I managed to write three times. The creative rust is being removed. There’s hope for me yet.

I just read your very interesting scene writing formula and will attempt that this week.

Dan F.

Vicki said...

Hey Openchannel - I wanted to check out your blog and can I say Wow. This is great. Of course it confirms that I can't write screenplays must stick to novels.

I love the finding pictures that represents your characters. It gives new depth to them as I picked things that made me think of them.

OpenChannel said...

Hi Vicki,

Thanks for stopping by. Actually, most of these exercises were inspired by Jack Remick and Robert Ray, who are novel writers. And I've used all of these exercises to teach Character and Story development regardless of format. I think it's all transferable.

I think the two formats have different challenges. I must say having written in both, I think it is easier to go from a screenwriter to a novelist than from a novelist to a screenwriter.

Vicki said...

Oh and did I forget to mention that you've been tagged? I was tagged for the Meme 8 things about Me and had to tag 8 others and thought it'd be great to hear yours. :)

Anita Marie Moscoso said...

Hey Anita Marie Here!
Thanks for the nice things you said about my blog at Max's.

This is a cool set up you have...think I might give these prompts a whirl.

See Ya
Anita Marie

OpenChannel said...

Hey Anita, thanks for cruising in. Feel free to use any of the prompts in any order. Anything I can do to help people approach their writing.