Guided Writing

GUIDED WRITING #1 – THEME MEMES: START WITH ‘THE END’

To access the Theme Memes that are the basis of this activity, you can click visit this blog post for the slide show or access them via this Google folder.

Genres: Fiction, Playwriting, Theatre (Improvisation)

Creative Process: Idea Generation, Story Arc, Plot, Complications

Age Level: 13+

     FOR INDIVIDUALS:

     Part I – Choose Your Ending. You can choose a Theme Meme by a random draw, or you can look through the deck and pick the meme that excites you the most. This meme is now involved in the ending of a story that you are about to create.

     Part II – Now, Go Back to the Beginning. Using your meme as your central point of inspiration, answer the following prompts in order:

  1. Describe Your Protagonist: Use one sentence to describe an original character who has this meme’s ending in their future.
  2. Chapter/Scene 1: What event starts the beginning of this character’s story? Summarize this plot point in 1 – 3 sentences.
  3. Chapter/Scene 2: What obstacle is introduced that relates your character and their ending? Summarize this plot point 1 – 3 sentences.
  4. Chapter/Scene 3: What happens to make this problem worse? Summarize this plot point 1 – 3 sentences.
  5. Now PAUSE! It’s time to select a second meme at random (If you are doing this exercise digitally, you can do that by refreshing this page). Use this second meme to answer the next prompt.
  6. Chapter/Scene 4: Does the message on your second card make things better or worse? Describe how in a 1 – 3 sentence plot summary.
  7. Chapter/Scene 5: How does the character reach the ending on your initial card? Summarize this plot point 1 – 3 sentences.

Voilà! You have a complete story outline that you can expand or change as you see fit. Now that you’re back to the end, if your original ending doesn’t feel quite right you can return to the Theme Memes and choose a new one.

Bonus Activity – Meme a Work-In-Progress: If you’re having trouble imagining an ending for your work-in-progress, pull five Theme Memes from the deck. Tie each meme to your story by brainstorming five different endings – one for each of the cards that you pulled. If some of the cards make completely outlandish endings that you’d never use, that’s okay! The simple act of brainstorming will help you jog your creativity and find your way to an ending that feels just right.

     FOR GROUPS:

     Part I – The Group Warm-Up. Introduce the cards as possible endings to stories yet to be imagined. Shuffle the deck, and have a participant pick one card at random. After the card is read aloud, give the following prompt: Use one sentence to describe an original character who has this card’s ending in their future. Ask several participants to volunteer answers, to demonstrate that each card inspires endless possibilities. Repeat this round a second time with a new card selected at random. Then, for the third round, draw a new card and add a second prompt into the mix: Use one sentence to describe an original character who has this card’s ending in their futureNext, use one sentence to summarize an event that introduces the character at the beginning of their story.

     Part II – Individual Creation. Lay all of the Theme Memes face up on a table. Each participant should browse the options and choose one theme card to serve as the ending for a story they are about to invent, taking that card back to their seats. When everyone is ready, lead participants through the following guided writing exercise one step at a time:

  1. Describe Your Protagonist: Use one sentence to describe an original character who has this card’s ending in their future.
  2. Chapter/Scene 1: What event starts the beginning of this character’s story? Summarize this plot point in 1 – 3 sentences.
  3. Chapter/Scene 2: What obstacle is introduced that relates your character and their ending? Summarize this plot point 1 – 3 sentences.
  4. Chapter/Scene 3: What happens to make this problem worse? Summarize this plot point 1 – 3 sentences.
  5. By this point of the exercise, the remaining cards should be face down on the table. Ask each participant to select a second card at random (without looking at it) and take it back to their seats.
  6. Chapter/Scene 4: Does the message on your second card make things better or worse? Describe how in a 1 – 3 sentence plot summary.
  7. Chapter/Scene 5: How does the character reach the ending on your initial card? Summarize this plot point 1 – 3 sentences.

By the end of this guided writing exercise, participants will have a complete story outline that they can expand or change as they see fit. For ease of facilitation, here is a convenient handout with the above prompts listed in order.

Bonus Card Draw: If you feel your participants are itching for more options, turn the Theme Cards face up again after Step 5. Give participants this option for their final Chapter/Scene: they can keep their original ending, or they can trade it for a new Theme Card of their choosing and use that to write a new ending.

FOR THEATRE – Improvisations. Theme Memes are also great for character explorations, which means they’re fabulous improv tools, too!

Option #1 – Scene Starters. Shuffle the cards and have participants choose a Theme Meme at random. Ask participants to brainstorm two characters, a setting, and a conflict to create an improvisation based on the card.

Option #2 – Character Secret.  Have two volunteers improvise a scene between two characters, establishing setting, relationship, and conflict. Choose a Theme Meme to give one of the characters as a secret, and explore how that alters the scene. Replay using different Theme Memes each round.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

GUIDED WRITING #2 – MINING YOUR CHARACTER

Writing Process:  Character Development, Idea Generation, First Draft, Revision

Genres:  Fiction, Playwriting, Poetry, Memoir

Summary:  This guided writing activity leads the writer through a series of four prompts for a character of the writer’s choosing.  The material the prompts generate can be used early in the writing process, in the middle of a first draft, or during revision as a way to find a place to begin, to liven up a story, or to push through writer’s block.


 

 

 
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License.

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