7:37 a.m. — Atlanta
listening to The Drifters singing Under the Boardwalk
Hello, all. I have a gorgeous Fall day outside. I’m almost tempted to go out; don’t worry, I’ll quash that. If you were with me last November, you know that during this month I give narrative prompts, to give the NaNoWriMo set something to think about, maybe something to move them forward if they are stuck. I suggest they adapt all the exercises for whatever they are working on. I do realise this means we might not see quite so many things posted.
Poets, do not despair, I shall give you an adaptation for your prompt. You may also do your own adaptation of the exercise.
Today’s exercise might seem a little wacky, but trust me.
A solid structure that underpins and carries the plot forward is one of the biggest challenges for a first-time novelist. The idea of this exercise is to tell you what to write without your worrying about what it does. At the end, when you re-order the paragraphs, you’ll have your story’s structure in miniature and can use it as a mirror against the larger story.
To make it easier for me to set out the steps, I am keeping the original exercise which casts its story around the finding of a body. Novelists, you can replace body with anything: make sure it’s a conflict integral to your story. Don’t try to unravel as you write, just follow the steps A through J.
A. Write the paragraph that appears just before the discovery of a body.
Or, before he walked out the door; or, before the cows trampled the corn crop; or, before the alien spaceship crash-landed; or, before she signed the will disinheriting her family; or, well, you get the idea.
B. Write the paragraph that appears just after the discovery of a body.
Or, after he walked out the door; or, after the cows trampled the corn crop; or, after the alien spaceship crash-landed; or, after she signed the will disinheriting her family; or, …
C. Write the paragraph that appears just before paragraph #A.
D. Write the dialogue that takes place sometime before paragraph #C.
E. Write the paragraph that appears just after paragraph #B.
F. Write the dialogue that takes place sometime after paragraph #E.
G. Write the first paragraph of the story containing these paragraphs.
H. Write the last paragraph of the story containing these paragraphs.
I. Write the paragraph that appears between paragraphs #A and #B.
Number your paragraphs to indicate the proper order of the story:
G D C A I B E F H
J. Complete the story.
The paragraphs should be healthy ones, not sketches. If you find yourself writing more than a paragraph for some steps, that’s fine.
Poets, take the word ‘body’ and look at this page from dictionary.com. Scroll down the entire page. They offer new meanings under each apparent repeated, or similar, opening definition. Also, they have a list of 82 quotes that revolve around the meaning of body.
Write your poem with one, or more, of the definitions in mind. Or, pick one of the quotes as your spark. Let us know which one.
If you have not seen the results of last week’s image prompt, stop by to read some. They were a lot of fun to read.
I shall see you Thursday for a talk on narrative structure; Friday for the week’s prompt roundup; and next Tuesday for an exercise on narrative consciousness.
Happy writing, everyone.