Happy Thursday! Ready for today’s Quick-Write options? We’ve got two…one for folks who are in the middle of a work-in-progress and one that works for anyone. (Try one, or both, or bookmark to come back later!)
Quick-Write Option #1 is courtesy of guest author Barb Rosenstock. Barb loves true stories best and often pretends to live in the past though she’s thankful every day for indoor plumbing, instant cocoa and the Internet. Her picture books include: The Camping Trip that Changed America (illus. by Caldecott Medalist Mordicai Gerstein), The Littlest Mountain (illus. by Melanie Hall), and Fearless (illus. by Scott Dawson) Upcoming: Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library (illus. by John O’Brien), Vasya’s Noisy Paintbox (illus. by Mary GranPré) and The Streak. You can find her at www.barbrosenstock.com or on Twitter @barbrosenstock.
“What in the world am I writing about?”
I was in the middle of a picture book draft and had just pasted in and deleted essentially the same two sentence six times. I thought I’d created pretty interesting characters, a cool setting and the basic plot outline, but where was my THEME? (I can still hear my 4th grade teacher Mr. Fornek.) Was this a story about friendship? Or courage? Or plain cleanliness? Here’s a way that might help you figure out what you’re writing about when you’re stuck…
Go to http://www.wordle.net. It’s free, you don’t have to fill in personal information or sign up. If you haven’t used WORDLE™ before, it’s a tool that generates a graphic word cloud from text you insert. The WORDLE™ is based on frequency of use in your text. Click “create” and paste in a good chunk of text from your work in progress (at least two pages.) Hit the “Go” button. SURPRISE! You’ll see a pretty WORDLE™ graphic generated from your very own writing. Now look at which words are bigger and which smaller or missing all together. Are you writing about what you think you’re writing about? You may find that the word “friend” shows up the largest, that nothing describing your setting shows up at all or that a minor character’s name comes out larger than a major one—all useful stuff for finding a theme and revising.
If you’re feeling super motivated today, write a letter to or from your main character using the seven largest words in your WORDLE.
My theme is invention, what’s yours?
Note from Kate: You can do this with any writing…your journal, your work-in-progress…even one or two of your quick-writes combined.
Quick-Write option #2 today is from me (though I am away this week with super-limited Internet, so I may not be able to reply to comments on this post) and it’s about exploring points of view.
For those working on a piece of fiction, or nonfiction that involves people…
Choose a scene in your story that’s important to the main character or primary figure. Write that scene from a completely different point of view — the antagonist, or the character’s childhood friend who shows up, or the clerk at the grocery store. How does the scene change?
For those still brainstorming ideas or working on something without a main character…
Choose a scene from one of your favorite books that you’ve read, and rewrite it from a totally different character’s point of view. You might try this from a few perspectives. For example, a character who is friends with the main character is one option, but what if you wrote from the antagonist’s point of view? What if you wrote from the point of view of a child? Or someone much older? Or the family dog?
Sometimes, this writing prompt will lead you to discover something you never realized before. Other times, it may help you to see your character through someone else’s eyes.
If you discover anything interesting or fun or important, stop by later on and let us know with a comment!