Break Every Rule (Sometimes)

A Pen In Each Hand

By Beaver

Take a writing rule that irritates you (e.g. “show, don’t tell” or “write what you know”) and write a short piece where you do the opposite of what the rule advises. Then, re-write the piece following the rule. Compare the two versions and mark the parts of each that you prefer. Take the time to consider why the rule works in some circumstances, but not in others. Finally, bring together the best of both versions.

But I Can’t Draw

A Pen In Each Hand

By Beaver

Choose an event in your life that has been difficult for you to write about. Maybe you have avoided writing about it, or maybe you have tried and weren’t happy with how it turned out. Be honest with yourself about why writing about this subject is difficult. Are you afraid of repercussions? Maybe writing pseudonymously would free you up. Does the idea of reliving the experience scare you? Perhaps writing in third person or fictionalizing the event might make it easier. Focus on just one scene and try approaching it in two or three different ways. Make sure to try at least one strategy that either you haven’t tried before and/or you think would never work for you.

Brand Attributes

A Pen In Each Hand

By fmwrites

Select one of the main attributes of your writing brand. Could be “horror featuring werewolves” or “Caribbean cooking expert” or “woodworking how-to articles.” It’s your pick. Now make a list of how you might expand on that attribute, to add depth or breadth to your brand of writing.

Some examples to get you thinking:

  • Werewolves: Werewolves of the Islands; A Werewolf’s Cookbook; X-rated Werewolf Play.
  • Caribbean cooking expert: Trip through the Caribbean Market; Cooking Expert Volunteers in Mission to Feed the Poor; Goats Can Be Yummy
  • Woodworking how-to articles: The Best Tools for Large Projects; Music to Work Wood By; Puppets Puppets Puppets: The Possibilities Are Endless

Five Exercises

A Pen In Each Hand

By Baker

  1. Write a sex scene between two people. Be as explicit as you’re comfortable with. Pay particular attention to details and don’t be shy about language. Alternately, write a poem set during a sexual experience.
  2. Write an ordinary scene but write it in an erotic and sensual manner. For example: a woman eating an ice cream cone, a man browsing fruit at the market, a couple driving in a car or riding a train. Think of themes like desire, exploration and satisfaction.
  3. One of the most popular underground publications in Victorian England was an erotic newsletter called The Pearl (available in bound form under author “Anonymous”). The Story of O was published anonymously in the 1950s with the author’s pseudonym attached 40 years later. Write an erotic story, poem or scene set in one of these time periods. Note how your characters dress, speak and act differently than they would in a contemporary piece. If you like, rewrite the scene as set in modern times, maybe mixing up the sexes of the people (or person) involved.
  4. Research erotica markets and read online journals to get familiar with the genre. Alternately you can check out erotica and other erotic literature at the library, borrow the books from friends or pick up inexpensive second-hand copies.
  5. If you’re feeling bold, browse an adult toy website and write a story or poem based on something you find there (or on any object you like if you don’t want to visit the 18+ sites). Clean Sheets has advertisers that can inspire your story or poem.

The Big Three

A Pen In Each Hand

By Kristin Baxter

List the benefits you’d like to get from a conference in order of importance. Do you want to improve your writing, meet publishing professionals, network with your peers—or just have a professional-sounding excuse to get out of town? Figure out what’s most important to you, and what features a conference should have to meet those needs. Then use the resources listed in the article to research conferences, and find at least three conferences that might fulfill your top three requirements.

Writers of the Round Table

A Pen In Each Hand

By Baker

  1. Research and join an online writing group.
  2. If you already belong to a writing community, resolve to offer more critiques and post more work for feedback.
  3. Attend an offline writing group meeting. If there aren’t any in your area, start your own. Libraries and bookstores can be allies in setting up and allowing a meeting space for a writers’ crit group.

Just Show It

A Pen In Each Hand

By Bellman

Consider this paragraph where Pip, in Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, is describing how his hands were burnt in a fire:

My hands had been dressed twice or thrice in the night, and again in the morning. My left arm was a good deal burned to the elbow, and, less severely, as high as the shoulder; it was very painful, but the flames had set in that direction, and I felt thankful it was no worse. My right hand was not so badly burnt but that I could move the fingers. It was bandaged, of course, but much less inconveniently than my left hand and arm; those I carried in a sling; and I could only wear my coat like a cloak, loose over my shoulders and fastened at the neck. My hair had been caught by the fire, but not my head or face.

Rewrite this scene so it shows Pip’s pain rather than just telling us about it. Try to appeal to as many senses as you can.