Timed Writing Exercises

Today in Fiction Writing, I had to write a story based on a picture. My picture was of a girl in a pasture surrounded by horses. We were supposed to write around a 3-page story in thirty minutes. If you’re anything like me, that challenge sounds awfully exciting.

My story was nowhere near finished when time was up (I’m supposed to complete and bring it in on Thursday), which didn’t surprise me at all, and that’s due to my writing style. Not to say I can’t write quickly. I do.

But when I don’t know what to write, I start writing random stuff. For this exercise, I had no idea what I wanted the story to be about, so I started describing the scene, the thoughts of the girl, sights, sounds, smells, etc. By the end of the first page, I was comfortable with the surroundings. But I still didn’t know what I wanted it to be about.

The next half page I spent exploring the girl, picking her brain to figure out who she was, what she was up to, why she was in a dress in a pasture, why her expression was the one it was, etc.

And, finally, I knew what I wanted to write about. So for the last page, I started the story moving in the direction I wanted it to go. After that, time was up.

I like the way I write – it’s the reason I do it! I don’t mind starting out completely lost and slowly finding by way, but I know a lot of people prefer to know what they’re doing before they even put pen to paper. Which way do y’all do it? Can you do both? Do you think one way is better than the other?

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