Creative writing activities that ask questions about your favorite writing are, by far, the most beneficial.
They make you conscious of what the writer is doing so that you can do it as well. They give you an intimate understanding of what is going on, so that you can do it yourself.
If you’ve read my other articles you know that I am a big fan of breaking down a piece of writing. Dig in! Ask questions about it.
It is like having your favorite writer teach you his tricks… for free.
No matter what your level of skill as a writer you will always learn something new from these creative writing activities.
Take A Piece Of Writing You Want To Study
Break it down bit by bit and ask these questions.
- How does the writer grab the reader’s interest in the first few sentences, paragraphs or pages?
- What are the first plot questions developed in the beginning?
- How does the writer foreshadow the conflict to come in the beginning?
- How does the writer start the story: with a scene or exposition?
- How does this effect the story?
- What is the conflict, how is it portrayed?
- When and where is the setting?
- What is the character’s dilemma and what is the conflict he is engaged in?
- Is the narrator speaking or writing?
- To whom is the narrator speaking?
- When is the narrator speaking? (before, during or after the events he is recounting?)
- Where is the narrator speaking or writing? (where is he in relation to the events of the story?)
- Why is the narrator speaking to the listeners?
- Who is the surface focus of the narrator’s story? He or she, they or we or maybe even I?
- How does the writer make the plot follow the character rather than the other way around?
- What does the writer focus on most: style, plot, idea, character, mood?
- Does the writer prefer to use factual descriptions, sensory descriptions or emotional descriptions?
- How does the point of view determine what you see and feel?
- How does this choice effect the style, characterization, conflict, theme, structure etc.?
- Does the writer create dramatic depth by suggesting there is more going on than meets the eye?
Now that you have answered these questions write your own short passage. Use the same techniques as the writer you just studied.
The more and more writers you do this with the more masterful you will become.
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