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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Journal With Impact: Travel Brainstorms Part One

Workshop: Six Conversations for Writing Creative Journals

“Writing fiction set in actual locations, either contemporary or historical, is both restricting and inspiring. Restricting in that we’re bound by reality, but inspiring since reality often provides story or character ideas. “                  Sarah Sundin

Brainstorm Fiction Prompts Part One  

Using fiction techniques as a brainstorm, to share your story and your travel world, often reminds us of missing details or unexpected gems. Here are six exercises that are focused on city settings as an example. Or you can substitute the city for any other aspect of your travel focus. Also consider turning yourself, or one of your travel companions, into a fictional character while doing these prompts to see what emotional connections might rise to the surface.

The reality of our world, its emotional resonance, and unique atmosphere, will be found in the details. Either we see it though the familiarity and ordinariness of our main character, or we see its strangeness through her confusion or entrancement. So it’s important for us to know the details ourselves. Just as we can walk around our homes in the dark, knowing exactly where we are, so must our characters. What is real to them needs to be real to us. This provides authentic atmosphere, tone, and mood. We don’t need to invent everything, but we do need to learn to develop an instinct to connect details with emotions effectively.           
Where to start? Right here—exactly where your character is now.

Action Steps:

Free-write: Set a timer so you’re not clock watching. Write without stopping for eight to ten minutes. If you can’t think of the next word—repeat the last word until something else comes to mind, even if it’s random. Write thoughts—words—sentences—whatever comes out. Ignore spelling and punctuation. Don’t lift the pen from the page!

Exercise One. Choose the room your character wakes up in. Start from her first moments of consciousness and go. Is it a familiar bed or not? Sheets—yes or no—clean or dirty—silk or cotton or straw or an unknown substance?

Exercise One, Part Two. Choose a city that will be in your world, real or imaginary, regardless of whether one of your characters will ever go there. It can be a myth, a historical place, or current to your character. Free-write everything you think you know about this city, or you think it will be about.

Did any detail surprise you?

Cluster: Take a word and place it in the middle of a page and then make spokes out to bubbles from it with word associates. For each of the words you choose, repeat the process. Go out as far you can. 

Exercise Two: Choose a word or a thought, either for theme, or potential research, from your free-write and cluster out all the ideas as far as you can.

Share: How far did you get? Which brainstorm of the two generated the most material for you?

Part Two brainstorm on Saturday

Read deep, marcy


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