Jesse Stong’s Writer’s Warm-Up

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Early on in the lock-down for covid-19, the owner of the little local grocery store noticed I was rushing round his store and practically jumping into the freezer or bakery rack when other shoppers came too close.

He told me to relax, slow down. “You must surrender,” he said. “What will be, will be.”

“I’m not ready to surrender,” I told him. “I’ve a novel to write.”

Working on my first novel has been a godsend during the lock-down. The thought that I might die before I finished it gave me new focus and drive, but there came a point when I found I needed some outside energy…especially for developing the back stories of my secondary characters.

Developing back stories is always a slow business for me. So much to explore beneath the tip of the iceberg!

Iceberg off Fogo Island 2018

There are plenty of writing prompts available online, dozens of questionnaires to use when interrogating fictional characters. They just don’t do the trick for me.

Then through the ELAN newsletter (Quebec’s English Language Arts Network) I discovered Jesse Stong’s Writers’ Warm-Ups at Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal.

Jesse’s Writers’ Warm-Ups are speedy (15 minutes) and energetic, and the prompts are terrific. He breaks them down into bite-sized, ‘get to the meat of it’, no over-thinking segments which always spark some kind of useful information or insight about a character. I especially love the Meryl Streep-inspired prompts!

Jesse twins each Warm-Up with a charity. If you donate, you can send him what you’ve written and he’ll give you feedback. How great is that?

Live-streamed every Monday and Friday at 10:15 a.m., but if you can’t make those times, you can catch up on Jesse Stong’s Warm-Ups later, as I do.

 

Opening the Door to Backstory

Backstories are always fascinating to a fiction writer. How can you know the characters in your story if you don’t know what’s happened in their past and how that’s affected them?

Is that why I feel so sad when I see yet another of Montreal’s beautiful old mansions bite the dust? Because when we’ve lost Montreal’s old buildings, we won’t know Montreal?

I couldn’t help but wonder what the story was of this building Continue reading

Characters, Backstories and Broken Wrist.

wrist in plaster castSometimes characters appear complete with full backstory. More often they don’t. Just as in real life, a writer has to hang around to see beyond first impressions.

Broke my wrist on Saturday. Went to emergency. Still there Saturday evening. Big tough macho fella comes in with bloody hand. Continue reading

After the First Draft – Next Steps

So there you have it: a first draft of your short story. What now? What’s the next step?next steps - prints in the snow (2)

In a previous post  I wrote about my struggle with how to continue with first drafts, especially those that had no clear ending, and how I learned to ‘dig deeper’.

Dig deeper. What does that mean? Continue reading