Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Back in the Saddle

After a semester of silence I'm happy to return to the Inkpot. Thanks to all who posted and commented while my head was in the sand.

I’m always looking for new writing exercises to do and to encourage students to try. The perfect exercise is one which not only helps me ferret out useful information about any character appearing in my story but also nudges me back into the writing itself. In other words, it must be effective but not too seductive as a distraction. A tricky balance.

I tried a new one this past weekend and I want to encourage all of you to give it a try if it seems the thing to do. It’s not my own invention, though perhaps the altered purpose is. I’m sure many of you check in frequently at McSweeney’s Internet tendency. One of my favorite features is the “Open Letters to People or Entities Who Are Unlikely to Respond” column. Well, this past weekend I had two of my characters write such letters, one to a snippy librarian she encountered and the other to a social worker at a youth shelter. Good stuff—in my estimation—presented itself as a result. I’m going to add the exercise to my list.

And even if it doesn’t work for you, read some of the letters. Most will make you smile.


  1. Thanks, Marsha. I'm always looking for exercises, too. And I've found it's surprising what my characters will say in a letter, or what I will say when I write to them.

  2. Missed your voice around these parts, Marsha Q. Welcome back! And thank you for the exercise! :0)