Scared of Magical Realism? Try this writing exercise (writing prompt from Mount SAC Writers Weekend 2018)

Featured Image -- 2913Internet friends — last weekend I got to teach at the incredible Mount SAC writers weekend in beautiful downtown Walnut California. I love working with the writers there and showcasing a kind of writing that is my favorite — magical realism. This past weekend, I tried out two new writing exercises.

Here is one of them.

Directions: DON’T SKIP AHEAD.

Just write each little prompt as it comes up, and then look at the next one. To help you, I’ve skipped alot of spaces between each section so you won’t feel tempted to cheat. Have fun and let me know what you think in the comments.

 

1. Make a list

name 10 things you have to do when you get up in the morning. (real)

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10

 

2. Now make another list!

Name 10 awful awful forms of employment/jobs (real)

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10

 

3. Time for one more list!

Name 10 big, small, beautiful, ugly, ridiculous and/or cute animals (real)

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

4. Now it’s a a time to write a story.  Choose a job from your list and an animal from your list.

animal:

job:

5. now write a story, where you or a fictional character wakes up, transformed as that animal, but you or your character still has to get ready for work!

here’s how: Follow these directions carefully.

a.  Have character wake up in their transformed state. Describe how the character feels in their (transformed) body. – 3-5 sentences

 

 

 

 

b. What’s the weather like out? Describe in 3-5 sentences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

c. Why does character hate their job? – describe in 5 sentences- 1 paragraph

 

 

 

 

 

d. For what pressing practical reasons does character stay in terrible job? 2-5 sentences.

 

 

 

 

 

e. Bring in another character: roommate, spouse, lover, parent and have them nag character to get ready and get to work, WITHOUT seeing what they look like. 2-5 sentences

 

 

 

 

 

f. Describe how character is doing getting ready for work. Use the list of details of your own regimen. SLOW the steps DOWN. 2-5 sentences.

 

 

 

 

 

g. Bring in ANOTHER character: roommate’s sibling, lover, or other parent or someone else entirely disconnected who nags character to get ready for work but who doesn’t see them.

 

 

 

 

 

h. Return to describing how character is dealing with getting ready for work in their transformed state – 2-5 sentences

 

 

 

 

 

i. Character’s boss/supervisor arrives but they don’t see the character yet either– 2 sentences.

 

 

 

 

 

j. Now the boss/supervisor and other 2 characters see character in their transformed state for the first time. Describe reactions that should be both physical AND vocal. 2 or more sentences

 

That’s the beginning of your story.

 

Now we’re at a bigger point in the story. You can make these sections longer or shorter.

 

  1. How do roommates/family/spouse and kids or whoever your other characters are ACCOMMODATE the transformed character? 2 sentences.
  2. Specifics – schedule, diet, change to the décor. – at least one paragraph
  3. What is the straw that breaks the camel’s back with this accommodation? —scene with specific actions and reactions (hint – what NEW people can enter the scene to create a specific embarrassing problem?) – at least one paragraph.
  4. What does the protagonist do/suffer/give up to solve the problem? 5 sentences to a paragraph.

 

There’s your story.

 

want to know more about how to write Magical Realism? Check out my new craft of writing book here:

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