C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

Write and publish with love and fury.

Writing Exercise: Idea Generation

 

 

 

Last Saturday I attended a great workshop on Editing and Revising with editor extraordinaire Brian Henry.

I’m deep into doing revisions on my own work and that of others, so a refreshing blast of continuing education was a nice change of pace. Brian is on the road every weekend to teach a workshop. He’s a genuinely nice guy and a skilled editor with tons of experience.

(Click here to find out more about his teaching or to receive his newsletter.)

The odd thing is, I did some freelance work for Brian when I worked at Harlequin in 1988/89. I was working in production, proofreading romance and after romance with a few military books mixed in so I wouldn’t grow breasts. (I proofread a lot of the Mack Bolan series back then.)

To pick up a little more cash, I waded into the slush pile for Brian, who was an editorial assistant at the time, to evaluate spec manuscripts. After taking several of his workshops over the last few years, he finally remembers who I am when I see him now. (I think.)

I’ve written a short story in two of his workshops now. I’m not usually a great fan of writing prompts from other people. I’ve got lots of ideas on my own. However, at Brian’s workshops I’ve leaped into the breach and come up with a couple of short pieces, written on the spot, with which I am quite pleased.

On Saturday, here’s what got the ball rolling; Brian called it his Chinese Fortune Cookie Exercise: We wrote a short fortune, say six words. Each participant came up with two fortunes to share. The fortunes preferably had a verb, included two people (implied was fine, not named) and there had to be an element of “tension or strangeness.”

Also, it’s okay if the fortune sucks. It’s just a prompt, not a plan. We exchanged fortunes with people at our table so everyone had something fresh. Then we started writing furiously.

The fortune I focused on was this:

“A relative will vex you.”

What I came up with was short and surprisingly soulful with a murderous sucker punch. My fellow participants were enthused. It is very affirming for any writer to come up with something quick on the spot that works so nicely. Now I have yet another short piece to add to my short story collection (available through Smashwords this summer!)

If you write, go read Quick Brown Fox, too. 

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Filed under: ebooks, links, manuscript evaluation, publishing, self-publishing, short stories, Writing Conferences, writing tips, , , , , ,

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