Writing, writing advice, Writing Club, writing exercise

Writing Club: Describing a Setting

Yesterday I met with young writers at the Main Library in Little Rock, Arkansas for our first ever NaNoWriMo group. I was blown away by the diverse group that showed up to write with us. After a long day of school, kids between the ages of 8 and 18 trickled in to share their ideas and a little of their passion for books. I heard a fifth grader swapping book ideas with a twelfth grader and saw all kinds of genres represented from poetry to crime drama. Amazing! I know some people have a hard time working with kids, but I am constantly amazed by the creativity and talent demonstrated in some of the youngest writers. I heard a few lamenting that they are forced to write what their teacher’s assign instead of what they love, but I encouraged them to write anyway because every single opportunity to write is an opportunity to improve. Then, someday you’ll be able to write what you love all day long and that is an amazing treat!

Settings
Anyway, in our short time together I shared a few tips for description and reviewed some of the brainstorming concepts I shared with all of you here a few weeks ago. I asked them to come up with three different settings. They suggested a planet, a cave, and a battleship. We listed a few adjectives to describe each setting. Here’s what we came up with:

When I see the word “planet”, I instantly picture something else entirely. Mars with its red dirt and and expansive deserts, perhaps. A green swirling fog is so unique and utterly different from what I pictured, but isn’t that incredible? With just four words we have an entirely different picture in our minds. Now the trick is to show our readers the same image we have in mind.

Show vs. Tell
 We want our readers to be able to visualize our settings, our characters, and their actions as fully as possible so that they feel as though they were in the middle of the story with them. One way to do that is to describe the setting using your five senses. So, to our list we might add a few distinctive words describing the smell of the air, the feel of the dampness on our skin, or the shouts of soldiers on the battleship. Instead of saying the deck of the battleship was wet, we will describe how the main character nearly slips as he races across the deck or we’ll describe the spray of sea water or the raging wind and rain of an enormous storm. We give our readers clues that let them decide for themselves that the deck is wet instead of just telling them it is. This involves them in the scene as a participant and gives our writing a richer quality.

It’s difficult, I won’t lie, but something we should continue to practice if we want to be better writers. So, why don’t you give it a try? Brainstorm a few settings for the story you are working on and list as many descriptive words as you can using your five senses. Then, use those words to help you create sentences to show the reader how it feels to stand in your setting. What will they see, hear, smell, feel as they enter your world? When you’re finished, come back and leave us your favorite sentence. I would love to see what you came up with as you try your hand at the Show vs. Tell technique.

                                                                       Happy Writing!

                                                                                                                ~ Heather

writing exercise

Brainstorming in Action

Yesterday I demonstrated a brainstorming technique called mind webbing. Well, today I’m going to show how we use brainstorming to help us develop our ideas into actual sentences or entire stories.

My best advice is to try to focus on creating a clear image in your head of either a scene or a character. As you look at the words you’ve added to your web, what comes to mind? I tend to think in settings first and characters second, but many great writers find themselves building a story around a solid character. Either way, the point is to find a good starting point that inspires you and to go from there, adding bits and pieces until you have a story forming.

So, here’s today’s challenge:  A Short Story

Use your mind web to write a short story. This should be a very short story, just one or two pages of a scene to help you practice writing from a mind web. As you look at your mind web, try to picture the scene or a character. Then, use the words you’ve listed to help you write strong sentences. When you’re finished, come back and tell us all about it. Visit us next Monday to see what we’re up to next time in writing club.

Happy writing!

Heather

nanowrimo, Uncategorized, Writing Club, writing exercise

Writing Club: It’s All About The Brainstorming

It’s fall and around here that means Writing Club! Each fall I lead a group of young writers through the prewriting process all the way to our goal of finished novels for National Novel Writing Month. It’s my favorite time of year.

We have so much fun writing together and coming up with crazy ideas for our stories. I wish all of you could join the club with us. Since you can’t be here, I thought I might bring some of the fun to you! So, each Monday I’ll share one of our writing lessons with you. That way you can follow along. If you do each lesson, by the end of November, you should have a pretty good story. It takes a little work and lot of dedication to finish an entire story, but you can do it! And if you have questions, you can post them here for the writing club to answer. Sound like fun? Great! Then, welcome to the club!

Lesson One: Brainstorming
When you’re writing, do you ever feel stuck? I’m talking thick, goopy mud kind of stuck. Quick sand, stuck. Yep. It happens to the best of us. So, our very first lesson this year is on how to get unstuck. Before we write a single word in our notebooks, we’re going talk about how to create new ideas and get your brain moving from stuck to running free.

There are many ways to help you gather ideas for your story. Today we’re going to talk about three. The first is a mind web.

You’ve probably seen this idea before and maybe you have a different name for it. A mind web helps us catch related ideas and organize them. Start out by writing a topic in the center of your paper or white board. Maybe use a word that describes your favorite book. We chose the word magic, but you can use any word that interests you. Now, add as many related words as possible around the outside of that center bubble. Branch out from those words, adding more layers.

Here’s an example from our class:

Step One: Add primary words around your central topic.

 

 Step Two: Add secondary words around each primary word.

 

 

Step Three: Add a layer of descriptive words to the outer layer.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Hopefully this exercise has helped you to create a picture in your head, because that’s your next step. Close your eyes for a moment and try your best to see a clear image of your scene. Focus on either the setting or a character because this will help you most. Remember to use all of your senses as you look around. What do you see? What does it smell like to you? Can you hear anything? Is there movement? What can you taste or feel? Do your best to be there in your mind, taking note of everything around you.

Now, write down exactly what you saw. Don’t worry about writing sentences; we’ll practice putting them into sentences later.  Just list the words for now. Grab all the words you can to describe your setting and a character. Use the list to fill in your mind web. Make it as big as you can. The more words and ideas you have, the more you have to work with when you are writing your story.

What word did you choose for your topic? Leave it in the comments below and take a moment to introduce yourself so we can say hello to our new writing club members. Then, come back tomorrow and I’ll show you what to do next with your mind web.

 

Brian Clopper, elementary, Friday, Indie Authors, inspiration, writing exercise, writing games

Brainstorming Tips with author Brian Clopper

I was delighted to discover Brian Clopper, an author I shared with you earlier this week in my review of his book, Graham the Gargoyle.  Brian astounds me with his clever writing, but my kids are even more impressed with his artwork.  Brian is also a teacher and I bet his 5th grade students are just about the luckiest kids I know.  How cool to have a teacher who is also a writer and comic book artist!  Today, Brian shares with us some fun tips and tricks for creating new story ideas.  Enjoy!

* * * * * * *

Coming up with story ideas has never been a problem for me. There are three techniques I teach my students to help them gain confidence in brainstorming. All three are quick, fun and easy to do.

Odd Pairings: Take two or three ideas that are wildly different from each other and put them together. For example, I created MONSTERS IN BOXERS, a book about kids who put on magical boxer shorts and transform into superhuman monsters ready to do battle with evil, by pairing monsters with boxers. How can you go wrong with that?

Here are other examples:
MY BIG TOE TALKS TO ME
MY SOAP, THE COMEDIAN
SNOWMAN SHOPPING TRIP
THE CAFETERIA COW
UNDERGROUND ASTRONAUT

Changing Expectations: this technique has some overlap with Odd Pairings. When brainstorming Changing Expectations, you use animal, professions, and objects and think of where you’d expect to find them or how they would act and turn the expectation upside down. Most of us assume an elephant would be large, clumsy and prone to stampeding first and asking questions second. But what if you change the expectation and imagine an elephant that is graceful and delicate. You have yourself an elephant ballerina and world of story possibilities.

Here are some more:
A gargoyle afraid of heights (sorry, already taken in my series GRAHAM THE GARGOYLE)
A noisy Bigfoot
An angry butterfly
A very well-spoken caveman
A vampire who wants to be a lifeguard (Sorry again, already used that in NORTON THE VAMPIRE)
A mummy who flies

The final idea generator is Randomizing. This was shared with me by a couple of cartoonists who like to get together and use Pictionary cards to help them generate story ideas. That’s exactly what you do. You randomly draw three Pictionary cards and select three or four ideas and string them together to form a story. It’s a lot of fun and is actually another use for Pictionary at parties, especially among the younger set who really love this.

Here’s how it works:
I select scarecrow, race cars and trophy from the Pictionary cards in front of me. Inspiration strikes and I whip up the story of a scarecrow that races cars, but has a natural problem in that when the car goes too fast, he loses his straw due to the excessive winds. He has to win back a trophy to save his farm from going belly up. All the other farm animals don’t have faith in him, and he must dig deep to solve his dilemma.

You can see changing expectations and odd pairings at work in the summary of my word play novel written to inspire young writers, STOMPER REX.

WITH THE OPENING OF A HATCH that appears on his ceiling, a troubled mortal boy, Stomper, is enlisted to save the fractured land of Crawlspace and reunite the magic. Trouble comes from all directions once he sets foot in the magical world of the written word. If Stomper can master alliterations, homophones, rhymes, similes and idioms before they do him in, Crawlspace might just have a fighting chance.

STOMPER REX is a romp through a magical world of dangerous word play. In the vein of THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH, this whimsical fantasy is a tale with lethal homophones, alliteration gone acutely awry and a host of hideous puns let loose that will disgust and confound.

Brian Clopper is a 5th grade teacher who dreams of a day when he too can set foot on a magic ladder and ride his way into a world where when hens fly to turn back time, skewer cougars hunt for unsuspecting children to shish kabob and boxing slugs engage in the rowdy gentleman’s sport of slimy fisticuffs.

Skewer cougars and boxing slugs are odd pairings, while when hens are a changing expectation. Who would think that riding atop a flock of harmless-looking birds would allow you to travel back in time? It’s all part of the magic that makes the world of Crawlspace come alive.

Odd pairings, Changing Expectations and randomizing are excellent ways to fill up your idea journal with tons of story possibilities. So what are you waiting for, get off your tuckus and get creating. There’s a zebra plumber or an ornery unicorn waiting for you to bring them to life.

Just so you know, I loaded a new book, STOMPER REX, onto the Kindle and Nook. It’s a perfect book to engage young writers with how to improve their writing using a variety of narrative techniques. Piers Anthony sung its praises, as he has all five books I’ve sent him over the years, in his most recent newsletter. I’m so proud of what he said, I just feel compelled to share it with you.

“I read Stomper Rex, by Brian Clopper. Bradford, nicknamed Stomper, is a fifth grader who has issues at school. He lives with his mother, his father having walked out. His mother is understanding but firm about his need to shape up. She gets him a tutor, Wanda, a teen girl he has a crush on, so he does pay attention as she reviews the material. This setting is competent, as the author is a fifth grade teacher; the secondary characters are well rounded. Then two odd men descend from his bedroom ceiling to take him to a fantasy land where he is needed. They are Ruffloon and Strivelwunk, who put him on a ladder which then flies into the land of Crawlspace, where there are many monsters, and much of the magic is made by figures of speech. Yes, the very thing he is having trouble with in school. I suspect this novel was a female dog to write, because coming up with relevant figures of speech when you need them can be a challenge, as I have found in my own writing. For example, when he is threatened by multiple snakes, he says “Fake snake!” and they merge into one pretend snake. That’s pretty simple, but others aren’t, such as “Try knocking loose those lox.” That’s homophone magic to make locks give way. It seems he has been summoned to defeat the cruel mistress of this realm, Stigma, a girl who visited but then decided to stay and rule, and they need to be rid of her. They have many adventures, requiring different figures of speech. Naturally there’s a climactic showdown, and strange things happen as they fight with whatever figures of speech they can think of under pressure. This novel represents a kind of course in figures of speech, and fifth graders who read it will surely develop a better understanding and possibly become better students. That may be the hidden agenda. This author continues to be a writer who deserves better attention in the literary world; this novel is anything but mindless.”

 

writer's life, writing games

Road Trip Games for Word Lovers

Road trips are my favorite summer pastime!  Every summer my family would take a few trips to visit family or go camping.  We never had big fancy vacations until I was in high school, so a six hour drive to grandma’s was as good as it was gonna get.  My parents are incredibly creative and made the journeys in a cramped car without air conditioning across west Texas or southern Oklahoma seem like an adventure.  The car catches on fire? How cool!  Bet you haven’t seen that before, hey kids?  We run out of coolant and need to hike off-road to a nearby stream to carry water back to the car?  Awesome!

Aside from vehicular mishaps, my parents taught us car games like The Alphabet Game.  My husband came into the family with a few car games himself, but they mostly involved counting things like tractors and grain towers. Now we have a few kids and find ourselves taking to the road ourselves, only with more reliable cars.  Our crew is pretty imaginative and loves a good challenge.  So, here are a few of the road games we’ve created to keep the boredom and sibling infighting at bay:

Where’d That Come From?
This game is like I Spy for the story loving crowd.  Spot something random or fairly unexplainable along the way and pose this question to the crowd.  Take turns coming up with a fantastic explanation for how the bizarre item could have come to rest in that location.  The more ridiculous the explanation, the more my crew would cheer.  Hubby added the rule in our car that you had to have at least five sentences to your story.  This keeps you from just throwing out the same silly statements each time like “Aliens!” or “Terrorists!”  Elaborate.  Make it more exciting.  Hubby’s advice to our crew: add back story.  What happened to create the scenario where aliens ended up breaking the fence along the roadway so that the cows escaped?  Why were the terrorists creating secret bombs that look like trash bags the highway crews leave along the side of the road?  Back story is where it’s at, people!  Of course, this game got wildly out of control after a few turns and we began adding on to each other’s ideas so that our stories were more like 20 minutes long.  Very entertaining!

Examples from our recent road trip:
Why is that town named Wooster?
How did that school bus end up in the middle of a field?
Why does that water tower have a giant hole in it?

 Billboard Songs
We love music!  This one is fun for those of you who know a bajillion songs and like to show off.  That describes my husband pretty well, so he made up this game for us.  Actually, it started like this: We saw a sign that reminded us each of a song.  He started singing his and I laughed because it reminded me of a different song, which I sang for him.  That’s how it all began.  Soon we were competing to see who could come up with the most songs.  Each sign we passed had one of us bursting into song based on one word or phrase from the billboard.  For example “We’ll keep the light on for you” becomes “This little light of mine” or “Valley View Retirement Center” becomes “Down in the valley…”

You could make it more challenging by calling out a sign/word and everyone takes turns coming up with songs from that one sign.  When no one else can come up with a song, the last person to sing gets to choose the next sign.

Alphabet Game
This is an old one and most of you know it, but just in case you missed the awesome fun of The Alphabet Game, here are the rules. Everyone starts at A.  Look at signs you pass (they must be signs! No truck logos or words found in the car!) When you see a word with the letter you are seeking, call it out.  So, you might see a sign that says For Sale.  You yell, “Sale! A!” and then move on to the letter B.  Everyone else now has to find a word that is not Sale and has the letter A while you are searching for B.  You’re winning!  Whoever gets to Z first wins.  It’s tricky because there are only so many words that use Q, Z, and X.  So, if your obnoxious little brother yells “Exit! E!” then you are going to be tortured when you find yourself sitting at X and passing exit signs.  Everyone learns to save certain words for when they hit the hard letters.  That, or they cheat.  My mom would get bored with this half way through and wish she had never suggested it.  I think she preferred to listen to our bickering over the constant shouting of random words and letters.  We would add to this torment by declaring a rematch, beginning again at A the minute anyone hit Z.  Hint: This game does not work well with small children.  Just because they know their a,b,c’s does not mean you will enjoy playing with them.  Everyone needs to be a reader to make this as cutthroat fun as possible. 🙂

Then What Happened?
I play this game with my writing club each year.  It’s easy and lots of fun.  Start off a story with a basic sentence that leaves room for the story to grow.  Then, the person beside you adds a sentence to the story.  Go around the circle/car adding sentences until you come to a ridiculous end and then start over.  If you get stuck, you can always use some of our story starters.  We usually end up trying to trump each other with the most ridiculous, most silly or most disgusting sentences.  It gets wildly out of control.  But then again, most of our games do.  I think that’s because we are wildly out of control… uh, I mean fun.

Do you have any wordy games you like to play in the car?  We would love to try out a few new ones.  Leave the instructions in the comment section and we’ll give your game a whirl next time we’re in the long stretch between civilization in a mini-van.

Writing, writing advice, writing exercise

Writing Exercise: Describing a Setting

I had a friend ask me today, “How do [writers] come up with all the details? When I’m reading something and the author is describing every last little detail about something, I’m just in awe because I never would have thought of it.”

What a wonderful question!  I think there are probably several good answers to this one because writers don’t all write the same way.  Still, I am happy to offer two ideas here for you who are interested and I’ll challenge you to try a little exercise with me at the end.

1. The Movie Reel

So far, in my own writing, I find that scenes appear as a sort of vivid movie in my mind.  I work as frantically as I can to describe what I’m seeing as the movie plays on, trying to capture it all while it’s fresh in my mind.  This is both good and bad.  It means that my scenes are vivid and often filled with natural movement or dialogue.  The hardest things, then, are trying to translate the emotions I can feel coming from my characters and also trying not to rush through it.  I often have to go back and do several revisions trying to fill in the blanks because I was hurrying the first draft as I attempted to capture it before the movie moved on without me.

There is a calmer way to do it, and if you aren’t lucky enough to see movies in your head, then it is how you will want to describe your scenes.

2. Twenty Questions

As a writing teacher, this is what I tell my students.  When you are describing a scene, ask yourself a few questions.

  • How does it feel there?

Weather can affect this, but so can other forces like housekeeping or strong emotions.  Ask yourself, Is it windy, warm, mild, sweltering, stuffy, scary etc.  Make a list of the words that come to mind as you imagine how it feels.  Textures can be good in a description, too.  For instance, the wall paper was smooth, the car’s paint was shiny, the cat’s fur against my cheek was soft, the carpet was thick and fluffy, etc.

  • What does it smell like?

Most every where we go has a distinct smell or two, especially when you first arrive somewhere or when something special is happening.  Does your character smell flowers, fresh bread baking, the sweat of a dog or a person, a cloud of perfume, fresh laundry, cookies in the oven, dead fish?  Just this short list of phrases draws to mind a set of images!  Imagine how describing the smell of your scene could help your reader to see your story better.

  • What do you see?

If you were standing in your character’s shoes, what would you see?  Take a look around.  Describe what would stand out to that character.  If they walk into a new house and are thinking about buying it, they will look at the details differently than if they are walking in just to deliver a package or watch some t.v.  So, try to think from your character’s perspective and ask yourself What do I see?

  • Do you hear that?

The tiny buzz of a gnat, the drip of a faucet, the whir of a fan trying to cool a room.  These are sounds that could help the reader to understand your setting better.  What does your character hear?

Try to focus on giving the reader just a few very strong visuals like these as you describe your setting.  It shouldn’t be pages and pages of you describing in painful detail every single thing you would hear, see or smell in a setting.  Just choose the ones that you think would best give the reader a real feel for the place.

Now, Try This:

Choose a setting and place a character there.  If you have a story you have already worked on, then choose one scene and try this with your character.  Close your eyes and enter the scene in your mind.  Take a good look around.  What does it feel like?  What do you smell?  What can you see?  Did you hear that?  What was it?  Then, make a list of your observations.  Choose three or four that you like best and put them together into a short paragraph, describing the scene from your character’s point of view.

Gotta Write,

Heather

Writing, writing exercise

Writing Exercise: Inanimate Perspective

>***Congratulations to Amy B! She won the Barnes and Noble gift card prize from Sarah Treu! Watch on Wednesday for a new book giveaway!***

Did you ever imagine your toys were secretly alive? Dozens of well-loved books (The Velveteen Rabbit) and movies (Toy Story) make me think I wasn’t alone in this childhood fantasy. Well, now that you are a little bigger, let’s use that imagination to help you become a better writer.

Writing Exercise: Look around the room. Choose one object and imagine that it could tell you it’s thoughts.

Ask yourself the following questions: What did it see today? How does it feel? Does it like it here? Does it enjoy it’s “job”? What does it dream of doing? If it could escape, where would it go and why?

I’m sure you can think of more questions to ask your chosen item. Now, write a short story from its perspective. Tomorrow, come back to try our Tuesday Story Starter and you’ll be glad for the practice.

Writing, writing advice, writing exercise

>Writing Exercise: Reimagine Something

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Hello, Writerlings! Hope you all had a fabulous weekend. I didn’t get a single word typed this weekend, so I was kind of disappointed. But, I had lots of fun with family, so that makes up for a lot.  



I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a new story idea and wondering if I can make it work without seeming like every other story in the same genre. It had me thinking about many of my other favorite stories and this led me to today’s writing exercise:


Think of something you find interesting, an invention, a myth, an animal, a fairytale, etc. Then, redefine it. Look at it from a new angle.


This what great writers do to make their story familiar and still new. Some take a familiar tale and then reverse it somehow. One example would be the recent Disney movie about the Frog Prince. Instead of the same old story about how kissing a frog makes him a prince, the writers turned it around. Now the girl who kissed the frog is a frog, too! What happens next? Well, that’s where the real story is, right?  


Or, you could take a historical or mythological topic you find interesting and already know a lot about and turn it around a bit. Ask yourself, what if this was still true somewhere today? What if these people or creatures are around us and we just aren’t aware of it? Rick Riordan caught the attention of millions with his Percy Jackson story that used this same technique as he reimagined Greek mythology (and then Roman and Egyptian, as well!) J.K. Rowlling did the same with magic and wizards when she created Harry Potter. What could you reimagine? Norse mythology? Mermaids? The legend of Atlantis? 


The fun is just beginning with the question of “How can it work? How could that happen?” Once you begin to ask “Why?”….. Well, that’s when the real story begins.
Why are there still wizards in the world and why do they need Harry Potter?
Why are all the demi-gods abandoned by their immortal parents? Why must they stick together?
Why?


So, try this for your own favorite topic of interest. Reimagine it, look at it from a different angle. Then, ask yourself why. See if that doesn’t spark a new direction for your writing this week.


Gotta write,
Heather

story starters, writing exercise

>Writing Exercise: Story Starters

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***Congratulations to Becca Campbell who won a free copy of Island of Fog!***



Ask yourself this question…. How to get more out of story starters.
My kids say I should be offering more ways to get kids writing.  I completely agree.  They suggested a few fabulous ideas and one of them is the classic “story starter”.  So, starting tomorrow, I’ll be offering up a story starter each week for you writers out there who need a little jumpstart.  Share them with friends, make a game out of it.  See who can write the most fantastic story from one little sentence.  But first, I want to teach you how to make a story starter more fun and more effective.  

Let’s say I give you a story starter like this one: You are riding through the woods with a group of friends.  Then, suddenly….

Well, that should be an easy one, right?  But wait!  Before you start writing ask yourself this question – What are you riding on?  How many of you read that story starter and instantly pictured your friends on either a horse or a bicycle?  What other things could you be riding through the woods?  Could you be riding a motorcycle?  Inside a car or even a royal carriage?  What about riding on a unicorn?  A dinosaur?  A giant spotted leopard?  A mutant plant?

Do you see how asking yourself that one question could change the entire direction of a story?  It could change the genre from classic fairytale to alien space adventure!  Write the unexpected.  Imagine something new.  Tomorrow I’ll give you a new story starter to play with, so come back and this time… bring a pencil!

Gotta Write,
Heather

character, Writing, writing exercise

>A Writing Exercise

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****Congratulations to Shannon Iverson who won the Free Book Friday contest! We’ll have a new free book offer this Friday, so come back and comment for your chance to take home a new book!**** 

Hello, writerlings!  Today is April 2nd which means Script Frenzy is in full swing.  For those of you who don’t have a clue what script frenzy is, you can look back at my post about it or follow the link to the Script Frenzy website.  There you can sign up to join the masses as they fearlessly quest to write a complete script in one month.  (If you are a grown up writer who wants to join the fun, go here.)

Even if you never intend to write a script of any kind, I found this fabulous worksheet from week two of their “bootcamp” to be an excellent writing exercise.    It focuses on your main character’s motivation for their journey and then helps you to define more of your villain as well.  We had lots of fun going through the worksheets here at home with our young writers and I thought you might enjoy it, too.  I found the following questions particularly helpful as I am currently editing my recent novel:

1. What does your main character want?
2. What does he or she need to do to make his or her dreams come true?
3. How does he or she change during the journey?

It’s funny how I thought I knew the answers to those questions when I started out writing, but now that I am looking back on a finished draft, I see that the answers have changed a bit.  As a matter of fact, the answer to the first question was very hard to find.  My character starts out her story thinking she wants one thing, but discovers in the end she wants something very different.  Isn’t that so often true?  Even in my own life I see this happening.  This is part of what contributes to a character’s change, growth.

How well do you know your characters?  Are they living inside of you yet?  Can you understand them well enough to know why they do what they do?  If not, this simple exercise will help you to breathe a little life into those precious creatures before you send them off on their journey.  Come back and tell us how it helped you!

Gotta write,
Heather