Mockler's Writing Prompts: Windows
Make a list of 10 windows you remember looking in or out of.
Pick one and write down all the sensory associations you have with this window. Where is it located? What events do you remember taking place either inside or outside the window?
Using this brainstorming material, write a story, poem, or play.
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Check out my online courses: Introduction to Short Fiction (a 4-week self-paced online course) and Kathryn Mockler's Fiction Workshop (a live 6-week workshop-based course via video conferencing
"In the end you should probably know your characters as well as you know yourself. You should be able to close your eyes and dwell inside that character’s body." —Gabriel García Márquez
Creating characters out of thin air can be daunting for any writer which is why many writers tend to base their characters on people they have interacted with or observed or heavily researched or even on themselves.
When I'm creating characters, I always put a little of me in them, and then I bring in bits and pieces from people who are around me or who I observe. That way I feel like I know my characters intimately, but I have the freedom to develop them according to the needs of my story.
This is why I prefer writing fiction over nonfiction even though many of my stories begin with something that is real—a setting, a situation, a person.
When you're trying to figure out how to develop characters, start by observing who is around you.
What do the people around you look like? How do they dress? How do they hold themselves? What does their body language say about the way they feel?
Listen to how you and your family members speak to each other.
Observe your friends and how they talk and act.
Eavesdrop on conversations in coffee shops, in grocery stories. Listen to what people say and how they say it.
I speak differently with my best friend than I do with someone I meet at the bus stop.
All of these details go into creating character. And once you have an idea who you want to write about then you need shape your characters by giving them goals in your story and having them act according to their motivations.
Exercise: Make a list of 5 to 10 people who interest you such as your children, your siblings, your dentist, the bus driver, etc. Whose lives are you curious by? And why?
WRITING PROMPT: DOORS
Make a list of 5 doors that you remember. They could be doors from home, work, friend's house, school, store, etc.
Pick one, and write down all of the sensory associations you have with this door: touch, smell, sight, sound, and, hey, maybe even taste—if you happened to have tasted your door.
Then write a short story about entering or exiting this door.
For more tips and resources, sign up for the Mockler's Writing Workshop Newsletter.
Check out my online courses: Introduction to Short Fiction (a 4-week self-paced online course) and Kathryn Mockler's Fiction Workshop (a live 6-week workshop-based course via video conferencing).
Photo by Oleg Laptev on Unsplash
Writing Tip - Getting Started with Lists
by Kathryn Mockler
June 2, 2018
Sometimes new writers fear that they don't have anything to say or write about, which is simply not true.
One thing I do to avoid feeling stuck is keep an ongoing list of all the things I'm interested in writing about.
The list may be general or specific.
For example, I might list some jobs I've had, experiences that have been important to me, people I want to write about, or subjects I want to research. One of my lists consists of lines of dialogue, another consists of conversations I've overheard. Sometimes I group lists by genre or subject matter. I have a list for poetry, for screenplays, for short fiction.
I use a free site called Trello to organize my lists, but you can use any list-making platform or just a simple notebook will do.
I like using an online platform for lists because I can get the app on my phone, and instead of scanning social media when I'm waiting in line, I can scan and add to my lists. This is one way of being productive when I don't have a lot of time to write.
When I'm composing a story or script, I even use lists to plot the structure or character details or theme ideas.
So if you ever feel stuck or don't know what to write about, start making a list and see what happens.
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