FIVE FOR FRIDAY: WRITING EXERCISES

I’ve been in a writing lull, now, going on something in the region of three years. The promise of my early days, when I was selling ten stories a year, seems a long way away as the combination of life-consuming day job, depression, and general Real Life ™ has slowly chipped away my creativity, my drive, and my time.

However, one thing I’ve maintained is my enjoyment of teaching writing, and when I have managed to write, it’s been via applying one of the exercises I use to teach aspiring writers, and pushing through to get some sort of result out of it. So here, for your own education, are five exercises I regularly use to get my heart started.

Five for Friday: Writing Exercises

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FIVE for FRIDAY: FIRST LINES

As a writer, half the battle of capturing your reader’s attention is won or lost in the first line. Capture their interest– hook them– and they’ll accord you extra time to do the things you need to do. Provide a bland or boring opening, and you’d better have an explosion arriving real quick, because there’s a new episode of Duck Dynasty on the tube and someone’s cooking sausages.

(Of course, you can take my advice for what it’s worth by noting that the greatest play ever written starts with the first line, “Who’s there?”)

Over the course of my career I’ve written some cracking opening lines (if I do say so myself) and some that have done little more than provide the literary equivalent of lobbing the ball over the next just so the other player can return serve.

Here are five of my best.

Five for Friday: First Lines

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FIVE for FRIDAY: RIGHT OF REPLY

Last week, I discussed Ms 15’s discovery of the The Beatles, and compared it to my own teenage awakening. In a guest post, she revealed her favourite 5 Beatles songs, and why:

  1. Here Comes the Sun
  2. Oh! Darling!
  3. I Am the Walrus
  4. Hey, Jude
  5. Let it Be

By way of reply, and to pay her back for usurping 2 of the songs I would have chosen for my list, it’s only right that I list my own favourites, in no particular order.

Five for Friday: My Own Favourite Beatles Songs

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FIVE for FRIDAY: Ms. 15s LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND

One of the most delightful moments of parenting comes when a child independently discovers something that has given you joy for years, and begins to express their own joy.

I first discovered The Beatles in a big way when my mother started dating the man who would become her 3rd husband. I was fourteen, and just beginning to branch out from my parents’ taste in music. Mum was early-Beatles: she hated what they did after they became “stupid hippies”. Ray was just as conservative, but for reasons I never figured out, had a copy of The White Album amongst the Jose Carreras and  London Symphony Orchestra. For other reasons I never figured out– he openly refused to move in with Mum until we were out of the house because he didn’t want to be bothered with us– he gave me free reign of his record collection. And I went nuts for this album. Nuts, I tells ya. And my life-long love for The Beatles (and yeah, I’m Team Stupid Hippies) was born.

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FIVE for FRIDAY: INTERNATIONAL BOOK CROSSING DAY

Happy International Book Crossing Day, everyone!

What’s Book Crossing day, I hear you ask? Well, sit your jimmy-jammied little bot-bots down, and I’ll tell you. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I’ll begin.

Book Crossing is a fun little website wherein you can release books into the wild, tagged with a barcode, and watch them as they are shared across the known world by people who are prepared to let them go once they’ve finished reading and go onto the website to log the wheres and the whens of the controlled release program. Think of it like tagging sharks for scientific purposes, without the wet and the cold and the seasickness and the risk of getting your bollocks gnawed off. Assuming you don’t try to release the book in Mirrabooka, anyway. There’s a whole lot to learn at the Book Crossing website, including the fact that they have a Day, and it’s today!

So to celebrate, I’m releasing five books into the wild today, and these are they, along with the links to their Book Crossing records so you can watch them disappear into obscurity along with the rest of us.

Five for Friday: Books Away!

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FIVE for FRIDAY: FEMALE AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!

Here’s a not so secret ambition: I want to write comic books. Specifically, I want to write the sort of off-the-wall bizarro superhero comics that hit me right in the cerebral cortex when I came back to comics in my University years: comics that were written by guys like Grant Morrison, Jamie Delano, Frank Miller and Alan Moore during the early, oddball Vertigo days, before they all went mainstream and electric and started doing Unplugged albums.

Here’s what else I want to do: take an established property and push it away from the same stable of core characters that we’re about to shove in a movie, so could you please re-draw them to look like the actors portraying them (Yeah, I’m looking at you, Bendis-MOR, post-Abnett Guardians of the Galaxy). And while I’m playing in the sandbox, I want to get my teeth into some of the supplementary characters: too cool to be disposed of, but never really given enough oomph to escape the cookie cutter.

So, while I’m expounding my Christmas list, let’s pretend I’ve been given free reign to choose my own Avengers team. And let’s pretend that, in the interest of satisfying all of the above, I’ve persuaded Marvel to let me write an all-female team (because, quite honestly, pretty much my favourite ever run of X-Men was back in the 250s or so, when the entire team was female, and they had to be smart instead of just punching and slashing everything that came along).

So, here’s this week Five for Friday: my female Avengers line-up. In order to do this, I’ve picked out 5 archetypes that I think a good team needs for balance.

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