Coffee Break Confidential: Creative Writing Training Exercises
It’s Katherine, writing from within the Arctic Circle (or maybe it just feels that way).
Well readers, it’s a new year. And just like everyone else, spies create their own lists of things they want to accomplish in the next 12 months (though our resolutions mostly involve decoding top-secret information and infiltrating government facilities).
This year, Ahna and I decided that since we give so much of our time and surveillance equipment to our job, we should take a break and focus on our leisure-related resolutions. Navigating your way through a laser grid is all fine and dandy, but at the end of the day, you just want to relax with a cup of tea and periodic security sweeps. So we got ourselves inspired to do some more creative writing in the coming year.
Ahna and I did one creative writing exercise together, which was a very enjoyable way to spend an afternoon — much more fun than untangling your rappelling gear. But I wanted to dig deeper into the issue, so I came up with some other book-related creative writing exercises. Feel free to use these if you need inspiration, but make sure to keep your scribbles safe; there’s no telling which government agencies might consider your ideas to be dangerous.
1. Choose a few characters from a favorite book. (They could even be characters from different books.) Now put them in a brand-new situation and write a scene describing what happens.
Example: Imagine — and write about — Fred and George Weasley trying to throw a surprise birthday party for someone, sans magic. You’re welcome for the mental image of that silly mayhem.
2. Pick a book that you aren’t entirely satisfied with. Maybe a character you loved died halfway through; maybe one chapter felt duller and slower than the rest; maybe the whole thing is just a little too sticky sweet for your taste. Whatever it may be, fix the part that bugs you.
Example: The book Battle Bunny illustrates (pun intended) this idea perfectly. The book is designed to look like a defaced copy of a sickeningly saccharine picture book, the graffiti transforming the story into a hilarious doomsday plot.
3. Find a book written in first-person (or third-person limited, if that’s what you prefer) point of view. Choose a memorable scene from the story, and write it from another character’s perspective.
Example: Personally, I will always remember the moment in Anne of Green Gables when Gilbert Blythe pulled on Anne’s braid and called her “Carrots.” I like to imagine what this scene must have been like from Gilbert’s point of view — especially his utterly flabbergasted thoughts when he realized that Anne was offended by his jesting remark.
I hope these prompts have given you some inspiration (or at least an amusing daydream). Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to make sure this infrared-blocking bodysuit really works.
Until next time, readers.
* * *
About Coffee Break Confidential:
This monthly column is where EBYR editorial assistant/vlogger/superspy Katherine Gibson divulges extra information from Coffee Break with EBYR that would otherwise be kept off the record. She’s researching topics related to children’s literature, posting her findings — and taking down some powerful militarized governments in the process. Just kidding about that last one. (Or are we?)