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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EXERCISING THE WRITE

Yesterday I headed down to the Mundijong library to give a workshop as part of the 2015 Write Along the Highway calendar. It was a small, but vibrant, group, and plenty of exercises were burned through and words written.

This one was a lot of fun, and people came up with a fantastic range of responses, so I thought I’d pop it up here for anyone else who might get something out of it. It’s called Macbeth’s Porter, because, well, that’s what it is.


MACBETH Act 2, Scene 3
Enter a porter. Knocking within.
Here’s a knocking indeed! If a man were porter of Hell Gate, he should have old turning the key. (Knock.) Knock, knock, knock! Who’s there, i’ the name of Beelzebub? Here’s a farmer, that hang’d himself on th’ expectation of plenty. Come in time! Have napkins enow about you; here you’ll sweat for’t. (Knock.) Knock, knock! Who’s there, in the other devil’s name? Faith, here’s an equivocator, that could swear in both the scales against either scale, who committed treason enough for God’s sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven. O, come in, equivocator. (Knock.) Knock, knock, knock! Who’s there? Faith, here’s an English tailor come hither, for stealing out of a French hose: come in, tailor; here you may roast your goose. (Knock.) Knock, knock! Never at quiet! What are you? But this place is too cold for hell. I’ll devil-porter it no further: I had thought to have let in some of all professions that go the primrose way to the everlasting bonfire. (Knock.) Anon, anon! [Opens the gate.] I pray you, remember the porter.

Write the scene as if:
  1. He actually is the porter of Hell Gate;
  2. One of the named possibilities actually is knocking; or
  3. The porter is describing what he actually sees, but reality is different. Why, and how?