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[Cia] Online Writing Course Exercises


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*I posted a topic in the Writer's Corner about a free online 8 session writing course I found. The writer/teacher providing the course does not provide critiques but I think we can do that quite well for each other. I am posting my exercise pieces here in my forum in topics, one per session. Feel free to read, comment, or post your own.The link to the free online course can be found: HERE

 

Session 1: Releasing Your Creativity

Exercise 1:

Write down your first response to these words or phrases:

 

  • Blue ball
  • And that’s when the sadness came
  • Coffee

Blue ball: My first thought is one of those reflecting disco balls they have at school dances. My school's colors were blue and white so they always used a blue light to shine on it and the whole room would be dimly lit with a blue shine. The excitement of dressing up, dancing close to the guys and giggling with your friends over who is the cutest boy are fun memories to think back on.

 

And that's when the sadness came: The first family member I lost that greatly impacted my life was Grandpa a year and a half ago. He meant the world to me and while he was not the first grandparent I lost he was the one that hurt me the most. I cried for days and wrote it out in a story chapter I was writing.Even now I miss him and thinking about him brings tears to my eyes. I know dread the thought of losing my grandma even more because she is the one adult woman in my family who I have always been closest to.

 

Coffee: Bitter liquid. Like mouth puckering, ewww, liquid. As a teenager, I always thought that I would automatically like coffee when I got older and became an adult. Of course that isn't true but it makes me laugh to think of the preconceptions teenagers have about being an adult.

 

 

 

 

Exercise 2: In 50 words or less write down why you want to write then list three creative thoughts that you’ve had lately (each 10 words or less). These may be an image, a musing, a ‘truth’, a story, or so on. If you haven’t had any, take yourself for a walk and look around; what grabs your imagination? Browse through a newspaper or a magazine; do any stories or pictures catch your attention? Think back over your day; did anything funny, charming, shocking or unusual happen to you or someone you know?

 

I write to be creative and for fun. I like hearing that my stories impact others. Three story ideas I've had lately: Continuing Dane and Tap's story through college, a story about a journey through the rain, and a story about hot aliens that humans mate with to avert... something.

 

Exercise 3: WIP. I will post it when I'm finished in the next day or so.

 

So what do you guys think?

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I like this idea, and that link is interesting!!! I've marked it for reading, as soon as I have a chance (hopefully tonight.)

 

* Blue ball

 

Heh, well, umm, I gotta admit, the first thing that came to mind was "blue balls". For anyone who is unaware of the term, the definition is here. :funny:

 

* And that’s when the sadness came

 

My reaction was much akin to Cia's. In my case, the death of my father came to mind first.

 

* Coffee

 

"Stuff I cannot live without". :) I've always loved coffee, even in gradeschool.

 

Exercise 2: In 50 words or less write down why you want to write then list three creative thoughts that you’ve had lately (each 10 words or less). These may be an image, a musing, a ‘truth’, a story, or so on. If you haven’t had any, take yourself for a walk and look around; what grabs your imagination? Browse through a newspaper or a magazine; do any stories or pictures catch your attention? Think back over your day; did anything funny, charming, shocking or unusual happen to you or someone you know?

 

Interesting ideas, Cia!

 

Hrmm, this is a tough question. I'm rarely accused of having thoughts, let alone creative ones, but I'll try to answer. :)

 

Three creative thoughts for today... a plot for a short story, a plot twist for a new novel I'm writing (this plot twist wasn't part of the original outline, but I think it improves it), and thirdly, an idea which came to me from out of nowhere while in the supermarket; how a character will die. I knew they were going to die, and the causes, but not exactly how... and ugh, makes me shudder.

 

Why do I write? Motive # 1, to learn how to write. I'm always learning, and still have much to learn. #2, because I love interacting with readers. That's my joy & my reward. #3, it's a compulsion.

 

Anything unusual happen today? Hrmm. I went to the store specifically to get some duct tape. I came out with three things. None of them duct tape. I was home before I realized I'd forgotten the thing I went there for. :*)

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I like this idea, and that link is interesting!!! I've marked it for reading, as soon as I have a chance (hopefully tonight.)

 

* Blue ball

 

Heh, well, umm, I gotta admit, the first thing that came to mind was "blue balls". For anyone who is unaware of the term, the definition is here. :funny:

HA HA HA

 

Why do I write? Motive # 1, to learn how to write. I'm always learning, and still have much to learn. #2, because I love interacting with readers. That's my joy & my reward. #3, it's a compulsion.

All very good reasons. The only problem with motive #1? I find sooo many more errors in the things I read and it's gotten to the point where I want to smack publishers. I read an e-book that was priced at $3.99 last night where the author didn't even separate dialogue only lines into new paragraphs! Good thing I got the story for free or I'd have been seriously cursing someone. I do like learning more myself though. I'm always on the quest to refine my story skills as well as the technical know-how to make each story as clean as possible in every way.

 

Anything unusual happen today? Hrmm. I went to the store specifically to get some duct tape. I came out with three things. None of them duct tape. I was home before I realized I'd forgotten the thing I went there for. :*)

 

I laughed at you this morning. Then I went to the store for 1 thing. Walked out with 2 bags. Got home... had to go back to the store for the third bag that had the thing I actually went to the store for. Sooo... karma smacked me for laughing :(

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I'm pretty sure I am NOT a poet. Exercise #3 proved that to me at least. I'll let you guys make your own decision.

 

Exercise 3: Take one of the three creative thoughts you wrote down in Exercise 2, then list 20 separate words that communicate or describe that thought. Do not, at this stage, link the words into sentences. Once you have your 20 words use them in a poem of 16 lines or less. Then, take the same 20 words and work them into a short story of under 300 words. Which exercise came more easily? Which form has best communicted your creative thought?

 

 

20 words: Warm, damp, soak, puddle, trudge, dance, revel, wallow, release, pressure, sad, lonely, hidden, emotions, overflowing, damage, mud, fresh, drip, patter.

 

 

Warm raindrops drip down my face, my emotions overflowing with nature’s damp tears

 

I trudge through the mud and puddles soak my feet

 

Wallowing in the sad and lonely trip, the damage is done

 

My fear drove me to run away, the world is a bleak place where I am all alone

 

I follow the path, collapsing at the end

 

I marvel in wonder at what stands before me

 

In the midst of all the mud stands a single flower

 

White petals dance with the patter of each drop

 

It revels in the fresh gift of life from above

 

I close my eyes and release the pressure of all the expectations

 

I will learn to be the flower

 

Ceril walked out of the house with nothing but the clothes on his back. His shirt quickly became damp as the warm raindrops dripped from the bare branches. He trudged along the hidden path in the woods, feeling sad and lonely as he relived the scene he just left. He knew if he didn’t leave everyone would have been able to see all of his emotions betrayed on his face. In the quiet of the empty woods he could hide the tears overflowing from his eyes and wallow in the pain without any more damage to his reputation.

 

He never knew it would be like that. Ceril had just wanted to dance, to revel in the love he felt just hours before. He thought they had something special but he was wrong. They went to the party and that was when it all fell apart. Jennifer had tried to stop him but it was too late, the damage was done. Ceril ignored Damon when he tried to explain but he slammed the door on his way out. Not knowing what else to do he had taken off for the woods.

 

He was alone again. He had known it would happen but his hope had blinded him. He scrubbed at his cheeks, trying to wipe away the fresh tears that continued to drip down his face. Avoiding a puddle in the middle of the path he stepped to the side and slipped in the mud. He fell to his knees. His hands clenched, he beat the ground.

 

“Why!”

 

His scream was a release of the pressure building up in his chest and choking him. The pattering of the rain on the flower petals was the only sound that broke the silence. He closed his eyes and let the sobs overtake him.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
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Exercise 1:

Write down your first response to these words or phrases:

 

  • Blue ball
  • And that’s when the sadness came
  • Coffee
Blue Ball:

 

A pit full of plastic balls. Blue ones mixed in with the reds and yellows.

 

And that's when the sadness came

 

First thing that came to my mind is sitting at my grandma's house waiting for my mom. My grandma and grandpa got there and were in tears and just held us until my mom got there. That's when we found out our brother had died.

Coffee

 

Coffee grounds poured into a freezer that had gotten unplugged without my realizing it. It stunk horribly, but for months afterwards, whenever we opened the freezer it smelled like coffee.

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Exercise 2: In 50 words or less write down why you want to write then list three creative thoughts that you’ve had lately (each 10 words or less). These may be an image, a musing, a ‘truth’, a story, or so on. If you haven’t had any, take yourself for a walk and look around; what grabs your imagination? Browse through a newspaper or a magazine; do any stories or pictures catch your attention? Think back over your day; did anything funny, charming, shocking or unusual happen to you or someone you know?

 

I write because I enjoy it and it is a way to get my thoughts and feelings out so that they do not remain bottled up inside me. Creative thoughts are: When the lights go out, only being able to tell the truth, and wizards, elves, dragons, unicorns, etc.

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Ewww, the coffee smell! I guess it's better than stinky meat or something!! Can't wait to see what prose and poetry you come up with for exercise 3 with those ideas!!

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Exercise 1:

Write down your first response to these words or phrases:

 

  • Blue ball
Okay, strange I know but what I thought of was black balling someone. Black balling is when there is a secret vote, usually whether someone is seeking membership of a certain organisation or among a board of directors. Everyone has two balls; a white one and a black one. They secretly put the balls into a bad, usually black velvet, white for yes, black for no. I thought that it would be nice if they had different colours for different occasions. I think a blue ball would be when they want to join a snooker club. Of course it could be green red, yellow etc but my favourite is blue

  • And that’s when the sadness came
We were sitting on the banks of a river on a warm sunny day; my husband, my son and myself. My son was paddling in the river, laughing and having a great time. I was smiling, enjoying the sun. My husband seemed unusually quiet but I didn't think anything of it when he same to sit beside me and took my hand; we did that all the time. However, I was knocked for six when he told me he didn't love me anymore. And that's when the sadness came.

  • Coffee
Black; no sugar; yes, please.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why do I write?

 

Why do I breathe?

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Awww, Nephy, the sadness story :( Such a blindside. Love the 'why do I write' though. I think with you, it must came as naturally as breathing sometimes. You're so wonderful at it!

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is my (brief) poem for that one part of that one exercise from the first session that called for a less-than-16-line poem. I'm not ready to add a piece of prose just yet, but I'll contribute something.

 

It's got a waltzy feel to it. This is Exercise #3, which required two different imaginings of the same idea. The idea is "Girl in Field of Sunflowers".

 

The girl twists and ducks and

 

Twirls through a field,

 

Cloaked in suncatching sunflowers

 

Sunbathing in spinning and singing and

 

Joy and youth,

 

Weaving wind around

 

Green stalks and yellow faces and

 

Pitching dancing breezes over

 

Treetops,

 

Arching wind around

 

The bottoms of clouds

 

To push and swing back down and

 

Catch her sunflower dress near the

 

Most delicate part of

 

Her ankles.

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Wow Synth! Great work. I'm not great at poetry but I really like this. Your imagery is right on. I can see this little girl in one of those old white Sunday dresses, running through a field of flowers and then jumping on this little old wood swing that's hanging off this big tree, swaying back and forth. Seems almost a period piece to me, very nostalgic. I love it when I get a picture from a poem, it doesn't happen that often.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Blue ball

And that's when the sadness came

Coffee

 

BLUE BALL

The closest thing to heaven is a blue ball called earth. Aliens bypass this planet. Black holes refuse to swallow it. Let's be serious here: This blue ball, from space, looks peaceful and devoid of interstellar interference like 6 mile wide asteroids and fly by comets. Come in closer. Tell us what you see.

 

AND THATS WHEN THE SADNESS CAME

The paramedic said her age was against her. He said patients with congenital heart failure and thin blood and water in their legs don't hold on for long. They told me to leave the bedroom and allow them to do their work. Outside, my husband and I paced the hallway, not saying anything to each other. He was on his cell, contacting the family, telling them that the paramedics will be taking her to

Edenvale Public Hospital and just then the paramedic came out of the room and said that Union Hospital might be the better choice for they hve the best equipment for cardio arrest. He asked us to help him fetch the stretcher from the ambulance. They had attached her to all kinds of machines and i could hear her erratic heartbeat struggling, fighting to keep her alive. She had been a strong woman most of her life. She had given birth to 8 children. She had fed them, clothed them, taught them religion, and spanked them when they got out of line. We helped him retrieve the stretcher and on our return they had put her on the floor and were applying CPR. It was only then that i realized there was no sound coming from the machines and thats when the sadness came. It strangled me to watch her die. I love you mom.

 

COFFEE

Two weeks ago my doc spoke three words: NO MORE COFFEE. Not even a cup. Get over it, he said after I had protested, and move on.

 

 

 

machines. I obliged over the sound of her erratic heartbeat. When we returned with the stretcher I knew

something was amiss. They had placed mom on the floor

beside the bed and were administering CPR

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Exercise 2

I read a Wilbur Smith novel called When the Lion Feeds. It was banned in South Africa for many years but we could still find copies of it. It affected me. All i wanted was to be Wilbur Smith. Instead, in my writing, i became me.

 

Three ideas: Continuing the gay detective novels, starting a new project about discovering immortality and lastly, a story of unreqitted love in a future where the world has one government and is led by one man who is gay. Oh my word.

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Excercise 2

 

Why I write...

 

Writing is my best friend. I can take from him and give to him. He can irritate and surprise me with rejections still, I continue. He never complains. I give my time, he gives his. I know him, but he battles to grasp me. I don't complain. I write. (49 words)

 

Three Recent Ideas. (cancel the last reply lol)

 

1. A man tries to hide the fact that he is illiterate, and he struggles to find someone to love because of it.

 

2. A woman tending to her garden digs up a box filled with diamonds and how she deals with it.

 

3. A thoroughly handsome guy, who owns 25 cats, moves into the house next door, the two neighbours on either side of him conspire to take revenge for their sleepless nights.

 

Take one of the three creative thoughts you wrote down in Exercise 2, then list 20 separate words that communicate or describe that thought. Do not, at this stage, link the words into sentences. Once you have your 20 words use them in a poem of 16 lines or less. Then, take the same 20 words and work them into a short story of fewer than 300 words. Which exercise came more easily? Which form has best communicated your creative thought?

 

Twenty Words: Word /See /Hear /Smell /Taste/ Writing/ Pen/ X/ slow/ job /knowledge /wisdom /learning /read /ignorant /uncultured /unlettered/ unenlightened/ love/ man

 

POEM BASED ON TWENTY WORDS

 

I do not see, or hear history.

 

I cannot taste or smell wine.

 

Unlettered, an X is my constant writing companion.

 

Ignorant people label me without learning that

 

Through no fault of mine am I without wisdom.

 

My pen is uncultured; It has no ink.

 

My book has no pages for I am blind to the word,

 

And there are few who take kindly to the unenlightened.

 

Knowledge evades me but the slow dawning saddens me

 

As once again I awake and I am without love.

 

For how can I love a man when perfection is all around me?

 

 

SHORT FICTION

 

My "affliction" is my secret.

 

You will never see me asking the manager of the supermarket to assist me with the names of a product. I can't have a cellphone. What would I do with it?

 

Count yourself as one who knows that my signature is an X.

 

I want to read and write. I want wisdom. I want to smell and taste the word perfume. I want to see and touch the texture of knowledge. I've tried, but lack of money prevents success. I have a pen, but it has no ink; I yearn to visualise a word through my eyes. My book collection has grown for the day I ‘m able to read.

 

I speak the language of association. I’m learning like an infant. I hear the news of the day from people at bus shelters and in the parking areas of the airport where I look after cars. People tell me I have a good vocabulary and speak slow, but well. I never tell them my secret. But I’ll tell you.

 

I copycat them.

 

I concentrate on the sound of the words, the colour of each vocal inflection, the vibrations of their souls as they speak, the shape of each word as it leaves their mouths, the texture of each rolling syllable.

 

I am not ignorant. I am the most intelligent of my unlettered family. My mother worked for a white woman in Sandton, and slept in a corrugated kaia* at night. I have a job as a gardener for a middle class suburbian family and I have money to spend.

 

There is only one problem. I will not allow any literate man to love me.

 

I fear the love of the enlightened.

 

I fear it may hurt.

 

I think it’s time to tell Jerry.

 

298 words

 

 

I preferred writing the story for it embodies the entire pathos of the character and how lost and miserable he is in his own hellish world. I hope it worked.

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I think that we got a better glimpse of the person in your story than the poem, imo. The lengths he goes to in order to hide his problem and the fear and pain he experiences were palpable. I found it interesting your story about an illiterate man was written in the first person, as if he was writing it, when we know he can't. It was a strange dichotomy.

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Lesson 2: Exercise 5: Use a trigger image, phrase or thought, then write down a leading, opening sentence. What questions might be raised? How might you answer those questions in a short story? What setting would be most appropriate to answer the questions? How long will it take for the question to be answered? Can you think of any characters that might help you tell the story and answer the question? (We will be looking at building a character in a future session and try writing another story from their perspective). Look over your answers and see whether or not the outline of a short story is emerging. If not, try another sentence or another trigger image.

My first line was : I used to think I was alone.

 

Image: A man with his arms wrapped around his chest, standing surrounded by a crowd, alone but not really. His eyes watch everyone but he doesn't speak or join in to the group.

 

Questions:

1. Why is he alone?

2. How does everyone react to his antisocial behavior?

3. Will someone get him to come out of his shell?

4. How will they do it?

 

Setting:

His home, the one place most people feel safest.

 

Characters that might help:

1. Family... they know your deepest secrets and are a source of strength in times of trouble. They also kick you in the butt if you need it.

2. A love interest? A new friend? Someone to jolt him out of his apathy.

 

I'll let you guys tell me if a story came from the idea or not. I'm strangely ambivalent so any reviews or comments you have are welcome as to the writing and the story itself. Does it have a sense of movement? The lesson said a short story should begin near the middle with little background and move quickly to the culminating point. Did this story have that? Does it seem like a complete story or just a scene? Are the characters and story believable without being too boring?

 

My story: The Breach

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