A Fun Writing Exercise (Thanks to Synchronicity)

I wish every writer and reader I know could make it to my area for the Decatur Book Festival on Labor Day weekend. It’s total awesomeness. And it’s all free. FREE.

Besides the TONS of authors who talk about their books and answer questions and autograph and mingle, the DBF also connects authors and other creative types with writers for an afternoon of workshops on the Friday before all the festivities. This year, I signed up for one called Synchronicity Theater’s Playmaking workshop. Because a. I’m a ham. and b. it looked fun and different.

And you know what? It was fun. Rachel May led (okay, pushed) our stalwart little group into territories unknown to pull ideas out of our (no, I wasn’t going to say that) boxed-up brains. Here are a few exercises to help jumpstart your writing ideas.

Choose character relationships. Not the same old, same old relationships. Think outside that box. Like the blue-haired lady who goes to the beauty salon and her teenaged hairdresser. Or the stay-at-home mom and the Fedex guy.

Create a setting. Of course, you can use a house, a school, a store. But you can also get descriptive. Maybe a house on a cul-de-sac in a subdivision that’s experiencing a decline. Or a store that’s had the same owner for 30 years.

Make something happen. Will someone lose their job? Will a character find something, like a an old love letter or a rock with blood on it?

So, now you have a who, what, and a where. Take that stay-at-home mom (maybe her husband travels) who lives on a cul-de-sac that’s declining (because someone unsavory moved into the neighborhood) and have the Fedex guy (who’s delivered packages every week for a year and fallen in love with a certain stay-at-home mom) drive up and find the woman he adores holding a rock with blood on it.

Hmmm…now why in the world is she holding that rock? The story practically writes itself. Maybe you’ll even make that story into a book. And then you’ll get it published! And you’ll be one of the presenters at the Decatur Book Festival in 2012! We’ll meet for drinks and it’ll be so much FUN!

Hey. It could happen. (But just in case it doesn’t, I’ll happily meet you for lunch, dinner, or drinks at the next DBF if you decide to come. I’m sure the Beneficent Mr. Hall will treat.)

(And P.S. What I love about Synchronicity is their work with at-risk teen girls. You can read more here about their total awesomeness.)

What Not to Do Wednesday on Freebies

I almost did it, grasshopper. I came this close (picture me pressing my thumb and pointer finger together, leaving just a smidgen of space) to skipping out on the AJC Decatur Book Festival Writer’s Conference this year.

And then I thought “Whaddaya, crazy or something? Here’s a bunch of talented writers, happy to share their words of wisdom, for FREE, and you’re sitting around whining to yourself about traffic.”

Yeah, that’s right, grasshopper. Not a fan of traffic. Or crowds. Both of which are bound to be a problem at the DBF. But I pulled on my big girl britches…and coerced one of the Junior Halls into going with me. Whatever. The point is, I emailed somebody to reserve a spot at the workshop I wanted to attend. Um, I didn’t actually get the workshop I wanted to attend. But I’m bound to get in some workshop. For FREE.

So, don’t let stuff like traffic or crowds keep you from taking advantage of wonderful writing opportunities in your area. Especially when those opportunities are FREE!

Yeah, I’m Tooting my Horn on Wednesday. So, Sue Me

Where does the time go?

One minute, I had a list of things to do on Tuesday (including writing a Tooting My Horn post for the Hall of Fame) and the next minute, I’m out to lunch (literally, not figuratively). So, here’s the post that would have been here yesterday if I hadn’t been out to lunch (figuratively, not literally).

Last year, I met the most delightful young teen at the Decatur Book Festival (which is right around the corner). Sydney Ann Lewis was hawking The Vernacular, a publication of stories and poems by Atlanta high school students. The magazine had been produced in conjunction with The Wren’s Nest, and all the work had been done by a staff of high school students, including Sydney. The more we talked, the more I was impressed. I thought I could sell her story. And happily, Encounter bought it.

Encounter Magazine loves stories about youth. They love stories written by teens, too. So, if you know a teen with an interesting story, why not go out to lunch and have a little chat? I heartily recommend it.