By Ashley Lister
As Lisabet mentioned at the start of the year, the ERWA blog is going to see a lot more activity in 2012. My name is Ashley Lister and, aside from being a regular columnist and reviewer at ERWA, I’m also a freelance writer and a creative writing lecturer.
Because of that last qualification, I figured I could use this space to share some of my favourite exercises for all those erotica writers reading this who want to polish their craft.
I usually work with three types of writing exercise.
The first type is the sort that’s traditionally used in the lecture hall. It’s a timed exercise designed to get students writing. These are usually ‘on-demand’ type exercises where students write haikus, limericks, cinquains etc. The purpose of these exercises is to get students familiar with the form being discussed.
From a writer’s perspective, timed lecture hall exercises work best when they can be recreated at home. That way the writer has the scope to properly use the exercise but without the pressure of meeting unreasonable standards set by peers.
The second type of writing exercise is the sort that’s solely intended to be done at home. For these, in my classes, I’ll give a theme or the opening paragraph to a story and ask learners to create a short piece of fiction to share with the rest of the class the following week.
Last term I used the opening pages from a piece of werewolf fiction I’d written (‘Scratched’, Red Velvet and Absinthe). The class’s responses to this exercise produced a lot of differing results. Few had gone for the traditional approach to telling a werewolf story. One had simply gone to see the latest Twilight film and told me the plot of that movie. Some of the stories were dark – dark even for werewolf stories. Some of them were whimsical. All of them had been written when the writers had the time and enthusiasm to engage with the subject. This level of personal involvement showed in the quality of the writing.
From a writer’s perspective, these are the exercises which I prefer. I can complete them at my own pace, in my own writing place, and without the pressure demanded by the need for immediate quality results.
The third type, to my mind, is the sort of exercise used for creating fresh ideas. Creating ideas can be daunting for any new writer and these are the sorts of collaborative exercises where we share our suggestions and bounce them off other writers. It’s a chance to voice ideas to others, see how they’re received, and to also get an insight into the way peers are thinking. In short: it’s a chance to hear some unusual ideas which can often prove tangentially inspirational.
One of my favourite exercises of this type is adapted from Margaret Geraghty’s The Five Minute Writer. Learners are expected to spend five minutes compiling a short list in response to the question: What does it feel like to…?
My personal responses to this included items such as:
What does it feel like to run a marathon?
What does it feel like to lick a hedgehog?
What does it feel like to taste an emotion?
Your exercise, should you wish to participate, is to produce five original responses to that question: What does it feel like to…? Feel free to share your suggestions via the comments box below and let’s see if we can inspire each other with some wonderful and original ideas.
Friday, January 6, 2012
By Ashley Lister