LIttle Town Books

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We’re always looking for writing exercises to add to this page, if you have one you think may be appropriate please send it through on our Feedback page.

Anecdote – Write a paragraph about something that happened to you once, then give swap it with another writer and each write a story about the others anecdote.

Bio – Write a short auto-bio, then fold the page so that you are only able to see half the text. Use the words that remain to write a poem or simply use what remains for inspiration for your writing. This can be a fascinating exercise, as you’ll find (or may find) that some of the lines are quite poetic/revealing.

Bloggin – Start a blog, and write a story in instalments.

Change, change, change – Write a story in which a person changes into something.

Character – Write a story using a character from your favourite movie or book.

Comfort zone – 10 minutes: Come up with a character that represents an aspect of the place you live now (or where you grew up – somewhere you know really well). Try to avoid stereotypes. Spend a bit of time to think about: physical descriptions, where they live, what their values are.
20-30 minutes: Take them out of their comfort zone. Put them in a place that is foreign to them (if they are from the country it might be the city, it might be a fancy wedding, a dinner party, a foreign country) and make them conduct a transaction (buy something, negotiate something).

Confessions – Confess a secret in a story.

Convo snatch – Take a snatch of conversation and write a story about it.

Design a story poster – A one page drawing or painting that tells a whole story with a picture. Your audience should be able to discern a sense of your story simply by looking at the picture.

Dialogue challenge Try writing a story using only dialogue (dialogue is where your characters talk in your story) – then read the story out loud with some friends.

Experience – Write about your experience facing down personal fear. Writing from personal experience often produces powerful results. Remember that if you redraft (and I’d suggest you do) to keep your audience in mind.

Genre style – Science fiction, fantasy. Try to pick one you haven’t written in before.

Get someone to pick an object – Write about that object.

Language of things1. write 10 words to do with an occupation. 2. pick an emotion. 3. write a poem about the emotion using the words from step one and don’t use the name of the emotion.

Liar liar – Write a story from the perspective of a person that only tells lies.

Limericks – Find a story or play that you like, then write a limerick or series of limericks about it.

Lyric lashing – Pick a song you love, and write completely new lyrics for it.

Mediated – Write a story where developments in the narrative are mediated at one source. For example, where what’s on the TV directs changes in the story.

Memory – Write a paragraph introducing the memory of an object.

Memory 2 – Write about an unreliable memory. It might be something from your childhood or … if you’re like me … anything I did before lunch 🙂

Memory 3 – Write about your earliest memory from childhood.

Mirror – Write a story from your own mirrored perspective (the perspective of your reflection).

Mixed up – Write a simple story in which three things happen, then go back and retell the story in a different order.

Photo essay – Take a series, or collect a series of photographs and place them in a way that they tell a story. You could visit a cafe and collect a handful of free post cards for this activity or use magazine pictures instead.

Picture Book – write a short story for an older audience using the plot and characters from a picture book.

Poem on a stone – Write a poem … on a stone. Trickier than it sounds … unless you pick a very large stone!

Poem pasting – Write a poem from cut out words from magazines.

Ponies – Take the form guide from your local paper, and using only the phrases you find in it, construct a story.

Public place – Go to a public place, note down everything you see, then write a story about it.

Rewrite – Take a sentence and rewrite it five times, jumbling up the word order. Don’t think about it, do it as fast as you can. It’s not about making sense, but about feeling free to write nonsense, and you’ll find you get interesting results anyway. It helps you put language together in surprising ways, breaking through your own cliched phrases, and finding new meanings, great for poetry and prose. A good one to use if you get stuck on a sentence and feel like you can’t move on, just start jumbling it around.

Reverse – Begin a story at the end and work your way backwards. You could have everything happen in reverse like ‘Times Arrow‘ by Martin Amis … or you could layer the structure, starting with an incident at the end that culminates in a conclusion at the beginning … like the movie Memento

Seven Objects – Hemingway: ‘What did I know about truly and care for the most?’ List seven objects you would want with you if you were the last person on earth. Then list the seven concepts you would want (eg love/death).

Shadows – A great activity for a group. Break into two teams, one team writes out a dozen different things our hero does in a well known film or story, and the other team must under time limit reveal the foreshadowing for each event as they are revealed one at a time.

Slam poetry! – There are few different variations, but most involve reading a poem competitively under a time limit of about 3 minutes. Random audience members score each round as you compete against your friends. Fast paced and allot of fun! You can find out more on Wikipedia.

SMS – Write a story in SMS messages! You may want to collaborate with another writer for this one.

Speech splash – Write a speech for someone famous.

Speed writing – Write a complete story in under 10 minutes – beginning, middle and end!

Super short story – Write a story in six words or fifteen words, or thirty words. Remember, a story has to have something happen in it to make it a story!

Time reverse – Write a story with a reversed chronology – ending first, returning to the beginning.

Time warp – For advanced writers – try changing the chronology of events in a story.

Try speed writing Give yourself a time limit, say 10 mins, and try to write a complete story in that time.

Zoom In – Focus on a single aspect of a story you’ve written already and write a page about it. It might be the sun coming through the window, what you can see out the front door, shapes in the sky, it doesn’t matter!