It’s been a while since we’ve started some good old fashioned writing advice so now seems as good a time as any to get back to it.
When it comes to writing it can be very hard to stay motivated, especially if you’re like me and find it hard to settle on one specific story. So I’ve come up with a collection of ‘writing challenges’ that will help you explore your story with some ‘out of the box’ thinking. These have been useful for me, each for helping my story in different ways.
Write an introduction for your character.
Go big. Your character walks into a room, there are explosions going off in the distance and they smile slyly knowing full well that they were indirectly responsible for the devastation. Be overdramatic. This isn’t for your story, this is for you. This is you and your character getting to know each other. On the other hand, your character might better suit an understated entrance, subtlety is an art to them. What’s important is that you add a hook to this introduction, something that will reel people in. But remember, this is a short task to get you motivated. Try and go for a paragraph to epitomise your character (and if it becomes something more then it’s done its job and got you motivated).
Dialogue with you character meeting another character.
Don’t bother with the ‘he said’ ‘she said’. Write it like a script to throw the words out there. If you focus too much on your setting, then this is an excellent opportunity to shift the focus to your characters. The words and exchanges your characters share are incredibly important to their relationship and their personal development, but it can also help to further the plot or other key events.
Bonus twist: Dialogue with your character meeting one of your (or their) favourite fictional characters.
Write an AU of one of your own stories.
An ‘AU’ is an ‘Alternate Universe’ often seen in fanfics. It looks at familiar stories and characters and puts them in a different perspective or setting (eg. Hogwarts AU, Modern AU, Western AU, Genderswap AU). It might not be something that you can use in your story but it could help you deal with a few issues. Whether that issue is the usual writer’s block or perhaps you’re struggling with a plot hole you just can’t fill, an AU can help you look at your story from a different perspective.
Make a Dreamcast of your characters.
This is a fun little activity to help you better visualise your characters. It also gives you a view of what all your characters look like together. If your book was being turned into a film, don’t just think about what actors you think would look best for the role, but who do you think would do justice to your character?
Make a music playlist (Spotify, 8tracks) for your story.
A lot of writers have been known to do this e.g. Kieron Gillen who writes the Wicked + the Divine (especially considering music is central to the story), the playlist is available to listen to online on Spotify. Don’t just pick any song you love, think about which ones suit the tone of your story. Is R ‘n’ B best suited or is classical music more relevant? Think about the lyrics and how they suit the characters.
Your story is being made into a TV show. Pick one song that would be used as the theme song.
This might be easier to do after you’ve made a playlist, but it’s still a very difficult task. When it comes to a theme song you need one that encapsulates your entire story. If it is a series, it needs to be relevant to the entire series and not just one of the novels.
Make up a quote. Pull a sentence (or paragraph) out of one of your stories.
Something old or something new. A Hook that you think will grasp the reader, the kind of line that would be quoted on the front of your novel.
Use some writing prompts.
Search ‘writing prompts’ in websites like tumblr and pinterest and you’ll get random images, sentences and songs to spark your writing. Usually just a brief sentence (though they could be a ‘what if’ or other question), prompts give you something to focus your writing on. This is particularly useful if you are running low on ideas or if you want to write something completely new.
Are there any activities you use to keep yourself motivated? Do you have any suggestions for writing-related challenges?