Exercises in writing


For our final assignment, we had to submit a story we had evolved from the later exercises and the character we had been developing. I tried, and failed with my first attempt. This attempt was based on one of the earlier characters, though Robert has become Timothy.

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Create a character purely on the basis of your imagination or intellectual conception (as described by Novakovich as the ‘ideal method’). Create a character using any of the above methods in combination. Write a brief character sketch, around 300–500 words, in which you reveal certain aspects of the character. Use a third-person narrator (‘he’ or ‘she’).

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The challenge now is to write your stereotype in a more complicated fashion. Write a brief scene, around 300–500 words, in your notebook, in which you portray a character in a complex way, going against the usual expectations for such a character.

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Given this starting point, develop the character and see how a plot starts to emerge: ‘A woman on a bus today carried her Pekinese dog inside her handbag. It had a red bow on its head that matched her sweater.’

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This was the first draft, not submitted, because it was too long (479 words), but I want to retain it for now. If this must be trimmed to 350 words, what should go? Please leave your suggestions. Thanks

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For this exercise, write 500 words about the first thing you hear when you turn on the radio. I turned on BBC Radio 4 and listened to about 10 seconds of a drama. A man is recounting how a gun he is holding goes off accidentally...he waits to hear if his mother has heard the shot. I actually wrote 600 words, but as we will be editing it as part of a later exercise, I've not trimmed it. Having said that, I write directly onto my PC and edit my first draft as I go.

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I like the story as it stands, so I don't want to "rewrite", but I've made a number of revisions, to word order, then removing some secondary detail and expanding on the immediate present - such as mentioning that Robert wanted the gun and had stolen it.

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I wrote this study based upon a young woman I was able to observe through the window of a cafe. I was in the dry - she was in the wet.

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My second attempt at the same task, but so concise (to fit into the word limit on the OU system) as to be worthless.

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My first attempt at writing a scene in which a young man fails to tell his girl how he feels. I failed to keep to the word limit (500 words).

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An expanded exercise, based on the starting point of writing 500 words about the first thing I heard when switching on the radio (which was an item about 'neuromania').

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