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Thursday, 23 May 2013

Bring Your Characters to Life with 3 Writing Exercises ...

The Skyros Writers' Lab, rated 'Number 1 of the World's Five Best Writing Holidays' by The Guardian, is well known for its writerly advice. 

So we thought we'd bring you some wisdom from Sam North, author of over 8 novels, and facilitator of the June Writers' Lab holiday: 8 - 15 June (£595) to be held at The Skyros Centre in Skyros island, Greece.

Bring Your Characters to Life with 3 Writing Exercises

These exercises are a sure-fire way to improve your writing style and bring your characters to life so that they jump off the page!

1. Take one of your characters for a drive. Put him (or her) behind the steering wheel of an old banger, and while he drives you can interrogate his thoughts, his situation. Now write the sequence again, and put him (or her) behind the wheel of a very new, luxury car, of some description. After leaving the material to sit for a while, read both again and measure your own reaction, as a reader, to the evidence of wealth. 

2 Command a character to perform five acts of kindness. Then, make that character even kinder –– until they are kind to a fault. Put them in a situation where their virtue transforms into a vice and that the character's kindness becomes some a weakness it leads to their downfall.

3. Stand your characters next to each other and list in which ways they are similar and in which ways they are opposite to each other, both in terms of their physical attributes, their characters and their deep, unavoidable character traits. It makes a difference to put a rich person next to a poor person, a person with good table manners next to a sloppy eater, a brave person next to a timid person. Once you have made these lists, swap them around, play God. And watch out for any nuggets of a story, of incident, that come to mind as a consequence of this exercise. Make a note of these incidents.

More exercises and advice can be found in the 'Five Analogies for Fiction Writing' by Sam North, now available at The Book Depository. Or, you can follow Sam's 'Five Analogies for Fiction Writing' on twitter:

Writing at The Skyros Centre
Join Sam North at the Skyros Centre on the picturesque Skyros island in Greece for his course 'The Art of Writing Fiction': 8––15 June 2013. Sam's course will explore the large-scale challenges of writing fiction, and then narrow its focus to look at the 'voice' of a novel and style. Only £595, the course includes tuition, shared accommodation, half board meals (usually breakfast and lunch), and morning yoga classes.

For more information on Sam's course, or the many other inspiring writing holidays available, check out the Writers' Lab programme of courses at: 

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