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Writing Workshop Blog: Close Your Eyes and Imagine

Historical Fiction, Independent Writing, and NaNoWriMo

October 9, 2012: The Dictionary Game and Cross-Questions loosened us up for writing this week. In the Dictionary Game, I selected a word from the dictionary and asked everyone to write a possible definition. I read all of the responses with the real definition mixed in and took guesses as to which meaning was the real one. “Mandrill” and “stricture” yielded a variety of responses, none quite the true one, but many were convincing.

In Cross-Questions, half the group wrote a question, and the other half wrote an answer. We then paired up and read the unrelated questions and answers aloud. An example: “How do you make cheese?” “You stuff spinach in space helmets.”

Returning to our work with historical fiction, I led the group through a guided imagery experience of visualizing their main characters waking up and starting their typical day. With their eyes closed, I asked them to imagine the room where their character slept, the choice of clothes their character had, and other details about the setting and the character’s feelings at the beginning of the day.

Then I distributed the questions I had just asked, and everyone spread out around the room to write their wake-up scene. After a long period of silent and focused writing, several people shared their scenes, and the audience gave feedback about what they liked and asked clarifying questions. This exercise really helped everyone make tangible connections with their characters.

Independent writing time never seems like enough time, and it flew again today as some writers continued working on their historical fiction while others returned to projects they were working on last week. Two new ideas also took shape as one writer drafted an article about a fair he recently held, and a pair of writers developed a code for a story about aliens who are exiled from their planet and can return when they have gotten 6 billion people on earth to read 100 books each.

I mentioned National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) to the group, explained its goals, and began to gauge who would like to participate. Several members of writing workshop participated last year and found it rewarding. For more information, check out

-- Paige

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