Last Saturday, Santosh hosted a session at Write Club. I was out of town, so I can’t give you a first-person account of what happened, but going by the exercises, it must have been fun. What am I saying? Write Club sessions are always fun. Even those that are not.
So as usual, the session was divided into two exercises.
Every once in a while, we play this game at Write Club where we ask members to jot down 15 to 20 random words quickly, without thinking much, over a period of a minute or two. We then exchange our lists and see if we can write something based on someone else’s list. Here we try and do two things:
- We refrain from using simple words like ‘cat’ and ‘dog’. There are always spoilsports who write down words such as ‘a’ and ‘the’ – and when you call them out on it, they look askance and say, ‘What? They are words too.’ So we try and encourage people to pick some ‘meaty’ words. Sometimes we reduce the playing field to just verbs, because even the weakest of verbs is good enough to work with.
- We also refrain from making psychoanalytical judgements on ‘what the words mean’. We just look at the list for what it is: a list of words with which something could be created. Nothing more, nothing less.
This is apparently what Santosh and team did on Saturday as well. If you’d like to repeat this exercise, it works equally well when you write things based on your own word lists too. Do try it.
In this exercise, we used the shock, feel and touch factors in the title of the post. The prompt was that the scene should begin with a person walking along on a dark night. The only rule is as follows: for every line of the story you write, you should write two lines to describe the feelings and sensations of the character.
This is a variant of a technique used by writing coaches wherein writers are told to alternate between action, speech, thought and sensory description. This helps the beginning author to remember that he has these four different ‘types’ of writing at his disposal, and that mixing them up gives depth and richness to the story.
Mary opened the door and turned on the light, to see a man draped in a dripping black overcoat slouched by the window (Action). ‘Ah,’ she said, clamping down the shriek that threatened to shoot out of her (Speech + action). The man’s eyebrows looked like they had been painted on, and water flowed freely off his coat, as if it had been doused in oil (Description). When their eyes met, Mary thought that she should turn off the light, slam the door behind her, and run. But where would she go? (Thought)
And so on. Please note that this is an artificial rule designed to give authors practice in writing in different forms. When you’re writing a story, you would not stick to a rigid rule such as this. You will just write in the best way for the story.
Image Courtesy: Surviving Church