Wednesday, March 04, 2015

M3 Writer's Workshop Month 2

We're going to make this month a lot simpler. There's only one exercise none to choose from, but we're going to add a twist. We're going to combine this exercise from one of the exercises from last month. We;re reading Paradise by Toni Morrison and the exercise will be the same length 2500 to 5000 words due by the end of the month. 

Writing Exercise: 

Let me set the sense. Imagine that global warming has melted the arctic and the ocean levels rising, washing away low-lying cities. Civil unrest and war ensues. Now, put yourself or a major character you have created into this cataclysm, and imagine what would happen during the middle of an already ongoing story he had to evacuate. Before you start the project this month make sure to sketch an outline the place and the characters involved with the disaster. Outline possible events that may take place, choose what seems to be the most promising story and begin writing based on that outline.

Purpose: Disasters are a rich source of excitement and conflict. Make sure your disaster scenario hasn't been used too much in stories that you've read or watched. Perhaps it would be more productive for you to change the disaster scenario altogether, just as long as it bring your main character into contact with lots of contact with conflict either other people who want to use limited resources or the environment changing in ways no one could have foreseen. Make sure the theme remains survival, but you can always throw in a twist. Maybe your character is already sick and he's not afraid of dying, he just wants to make a difference before the cancer kills him.

Make sure your characters are believable and interesting, even if that means you must stick with the people you know. Too many disaster plots have underdeveloped characters and poor secondary plots (usually a lame romance or love story or some basic conflict within a stereotypical family). To support the primary plot, the attempt to escape the cataclysm, the secondary story can be borrowed from the previous month's exercise. Maybe in the middle of the disaster he meets his clone. Don't follow those previous exercises unless you feel genuine excitement about what you can do with it. I'm simply trying to focus on a way of thinking that I know is productive for many writers—combining ideas for a couple of stories into one. If you feel confident about it, conceive of a secondary plot of your own to intertwine with the initial story of the global disaster story. The secondary plot may in fact become your primary story, and the disaster scenario will work as an active and interesting setting for it.  

Tip: Jump into a scene where high drama is already occurring, and try to visualize it. Render it in detail and in lines of dialogue. In other words, test the idea in a major scene. Do several major scenes and connect them with transitions, summaries. If your scenes are working, substantiate them with research, and you'll have a serious story under way.
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