So, You Want to Write!
I could give you all sorts of lessons about rising action and character development and realistic dialogue and all those important story elements, but :
- You probably get enough of that in school.
- There’s plenty of information about the basics of writing in books and online.
- And really, truly, I just want you to have fun!
Instead, then, try these writing games and see where they lead you.
THREE WORDS GAME
Close your eyes, spin around, stop, then look straight ahead. What’s the first object you see? Write it down. (And no cheating! Write down the very first thing.) Now, open a magazine or book to a random page, close your eyes, and plant your finger on the paper. Write down the word or picture you’ve pointed to. (If the word is something like “the” or “to”, choose the noun immediately following it.) Finally, ask the nearest person to name an object. Now, get to work and write a story, making sure all three words become important parts of your character or plot.
THE MADE-UP WORD GAME
Make up a word. String together some letters that make a pronounceable word that hasn’t existed before now. (See? You’ve already created something!) If you’re stumped, think of a word you like then find a rhyme for it that’s not in the dictionary. Think about that word. What emotions does it evoke? What might it mean in another language? If someone came up to you and said, for example, “Can you help me find a flandolay (or insert your own word here)?” what would you think? Can you draw a picture of your word? Or is it an action verb? Or an adjective? Or an exclamation? Now, write a story using that word as your central element. (And yes, I have read the wonderful book, Frindle by Andrew Clements! Have you?)
THE TV SHOW GAME
Sit down and start watching one of your favorite TV shows, but make sure it’s an episode you’ve never seen before. Halfway through the show, turn off the TV. How would you continue the episode? How would you solve the characters’ problems? What could you add to make it more exciting? Now, with your very own ending in mind, start a new story with brand, new beginning and brand, new characters!
People who create commercials, cartoons, and movies, for example, sometimes organize their stories with a series of pictures that look like a comic strip or graphic novel. So in this game, at first, no words are allowed. Fold a piece of paper in thirds (like you’re about to stuff it into an envelope) then fold it once more from right to left so that when you open it up, the fold lines have marked the page into 6 squares. Try sketching out the action of your story as you envision it happening. (NOTE: You do not need to be a good artist to do this.) If you need more squares, repeat with more pieces of paper. Once you have an action sequence drawn out, either add cartoon-style words to the squares or use your illustrations to inspire the written version of your story.