This may sound like an exercise post and it is as writing sprints and character twists are creative exercises.
On Saturday the workshop for the monthly RCRW chapter meeting was a write-in. Write-ins are becoming popular among my writer friends. It’s a casual gathering at a home, or café, or restaurant where two or more writers gather with mini laptops to share being in a creative zone. If it sounds like a spiritual exercise, it’s that too.
Writer workshops often include inspirational prompts followed by ten or more minutes of silence where everyone writes, often with pens on paper. That’s not how we did it. The leader gave us a sentence and we had to verbally build on that for three minutes, creating a silly story that included fuzzy handcuffs. Then we began a writing challenge of producing 1,000 words in 1 hour. This is known as the “1K1H” Sprint. For a lighter challenge there’s one called, “The Dirty Thirty” which is a half-hour writing sprint.
The rules were to write as many words as possible on a new project, for the prize of a bottle of wine. Many of us wrote over fifteen hundred words and one wrote over two thousand. It was so fun some stayed in the room for a “Dirty Thirty” sprint.
The twists exercise for me was on Sunday. I arrived at my sisters’ home at noon for her help creating astrological charts that will represent the characters of my current work-in-process. I provide what I consider basic birth data for a character and she puts this into one of her astrological programs. Then we talk about the baggage and challenges that character will need for the story. She starts twisting the birth days and hours, occasionally the year, until the chart represents the potential talents and twists needed for the story I am creating. It’s a lot of fun to play god and align the stars to our intent.
The irony and biggest twist for me this weekend was that I kept getting hung up on the name of one of my characters. A friend and I came up with the name and thought it was great, while plot-storming at a café months ago. This is a pivotal character for the story, and the romantic plot, and I kept dithering over how to make the name work, or develop a nickname, for a 14-yr-old drama queen. In my defense, I’ve been preoccupied with more than writing this one novel in recent weeks. But now I’m in the zone and it wasn’t until I was leaving my sisters’ that I realized I could change this name to whatever I wanted. Duh.
This is one challenge of being a novelist. The characters can be so real on their initial appearance in my head that I name them. But as the character develops on the page my initial intent can change, and hence, the name may need to change. And as the author I can change anything that isn’t already published. This means, as a novelist I am also a work-in-process.