ljlee: where I work & play (workspace)
[personal profile] loopy777 and I recently talked about Loopy's Retroactive and making exposition interesting. While it takes time and energy to work information organically into a story, I think it's worth the effort to get the the audience engaged and interested. This also goes to the basic adage of "show, don't tell." Static exposition resorts to telling the audience what's what, while a dynamic scene showcasing that same information lets the audience experience the facts of the world or story and doesn't feel like deliberate exposition.

On that note, this exercise is about taking a block of information and making it into a scene that is interesting in its own right and moves the story forward, without using obvious infodump tropes like As You Know dialogue. Think of it as a teaser that will leave people hankering to get the rest. Use dialogue, monologue, or whatever other device you think would make it fun. Heck, don't be constrained to novel format--use script format, article format, interview or whatever else you like.

Assignment: Construct a scene or exchange that gets across as much of the following information as possible in an entertaining way. Make up any additional details as necessary, including future plot developments if you want.

Frankie and Donnie was sweethearts... )
ljlee: where I work & play (workspace)
“When you catch an adjective, kill it."
- Mark Twain

I swear I'm not against all adjectives and adverbs. In fact, neither was Mark Twain, as seen in the context of the above quote. Adjectives and adverbs can be vital tools to make a passage more vivid and accurate.

They are also tools best used sparingly. They can be abused when they become a shorthand for actual description, and especially when used to tell instead of show even when showing is more appropriate.

Therefore the direction in this exercise is to rewrite two passages without using adjectives or adverbs, hopefully changing it for the better.

Examples:
Original: It was cold beyond imagination outside. I never realized it could be this cold.

Rewrite: I turned my collar up against fingers of cold that kept forcing their way down my shirt. Breathing was like sucking an icicle up my nose.

Original: "I don't see how that's relevant," she said coldly.

Rewrite: Her smile flattened out; shutters closed behind her eyes. "I don't see how that's relevant."


The lesson is not that ad-words are Evil, but rather to learn to think without them so they don't become a means to prop up vague writing. I can think of a couple of adjectives that could go into the rewrite versions without doing harm, though I believe the writing is leaner without them.

Below are my prompts; as always, spoiler fold or space out to prevent peeking. Feel free to give prompts of your own along this vein, whether in your own journal or as a comment to this post.

Prompts:
He stood at the window watching for the lights, feeling agitated, afraid, and very much alone.

She stepped lightly over the stepping-stones, her feet barely above the surface of the swollen brook.
ljlee: where I work & play (workspace)
This idea came from reading Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, Betty Edwards' classic work on learning to draw. I was struck by Edwards' assertion that individual drawing styles come through even in plain, realistic visual depictions; as an example, she provided sketches of a model's head done by her and a colleague at the same time.

Since I have a one-track mind, that immediately got me thinking: Hey, could that be true of writing? Does writing style show itself even without deliberate flourishes or decorations? I grew immediately curious how different writing styles would show up in realistic descriptions of a scene. In that sense you might call this more of an experiment than an exercise. It could be an opportunity to get to know your own voice.

Therefore your mission, reader, should you accept it:

Watch the following video (start from the 7-second mark and watch until the 46-second mark--the rest are title page, credits, video manipulations etc.), then describe the scene in writing. Don't try to add meaning or drama other than what's on screen, just describe the scene as it is. The voice can be as formal or as casual as you like, and you can go into as many or as few details as you like including the specifics of dialogue. Convey the essence of the scene as you see it.




If you need names, the boys are Edgar (the dunkee) and his cousin Fernando (the dunker) according to the background information. The cameraman is their friend Raúl.

Same rules apply as the first exercise: Don't look at anyone else's entry until you've done your own, and fold or spoiler-cut your entry to make it easy for others not to peek. From now on I'll be doing my entries in the comments section, too, to separate them from the assignments.
ljlee: where I work & play (workspace)
This is something I've wanted to try for a while. It's a dialogue exercise from the book Stein on Writing by Sol Stein, and it goes like this:

Write ten lines of dialogue which is an argument between two people. It must be a genuine argument, but it must also be clear that they are in love. No descriptions or direction, just dialogue.


In the book Stein presented a couple of examples that he disqualified, one because the argument was not genuine (it was clearly just banter between lovers) and the other because the argument was so bitter that it was clear the participants despised each other. It's a fine line to tread.

So not only do I want to try this, I'd love to see what you come up with. If you want to participate--and don't be shy if we haven't talked regularly, this is open to everyone including perfect strangers--do this exercise either in a comment or by linking your entry in your comment. I'll give you feedback, and others might do the same.

Also, to minimize mutual influence don't read the other entries until you've done your own, assuming you're interested in participating. Spoiler-tag your own entry to facilitate the no-peeking rule, which for LJ is (lj-spoiler title="go away, peeping monkeys!")your text here(/lj-spoiler) with pointy brackets instead of round. On DW and other platforms do whatever is equivalent, such as a text cut.

Here's my entry:

Hey! No peeking if you haven't done yours yet. )

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L.J. Lee

June 2016

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