STREEETCH: My favorite writing exercise

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

And one, and two, and three, and four! Okay writers, time to stretch!

I’d make a crappy aerobics teacher. But that’s okay.

When I was in middle school, my awesome English teacher taught my class this writing exercise. It’s great for group meetings, but can easily be adapted for individual use.

I call it “The Paper Bag Game”. It’s pretty simple and pretty quick.

Here’s how it works.

First, you gather five paper bags and lable them as “Main Character”, “Secondary Character,” “Location,” “Plot,” and “Object.”

Second, distribute pieces of paper to the group. Have the members write up descriptions for each of the categories. They can be as simple or complex as you want. For example: “MC: An old man who was a convict but is now reformed.” “SC: Persistant police officer” “L: Paris”, “P: A cat and mouse chase through the years between MC and SC” and “O: Silver candlesticks”.

Let these get silly.

Next, put these into their appropriately marked bags. Shake. Withdraw ONE from each category. Set your timer/watch/cell phone alarm for 5-7 minutes and get writing.

At this point, the group can decide whether to hold on to the used sheets or throw them out. The unused characters, etc. ought to remain in the bags, with new ones being added each meeting.

As I said earlier, this can easily be adapted for solo writing fun. Come up with many different characters, plots, objects, etc. and pull at random.

The writing time (5-7 minutes) can be extended for any length of time, but the short time works well for groups, as those who want to share afterwards can.

Don’t worry if you can’t get all of the components together–this is just meant to get your brain thinking.

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