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Friday, 4 December 2020

Weekly writing prompt: Moving landscapes


Whet your appetite for the Imaginary Worlds with short writing prompts – plenty of different stuff for you to play around with as a chance to experiment, start inventing, get your pen moving, and have fun.

This week's prompt is a lovely exercise prompt, playing with words around movement. This is a two-parter, so I suggest you try not to read ahead – it's more fun that way. That said, if you don't like doing an exercise without knowing the reasons behind it, scroll down to "Why this exercise?" near the end.
I've put the timings as 5 mins on each half to make it a 10-minute exercise; if you want to do longer, you could do 10 minutes on each half.

Part One

Spend five minutes describing a physical activity and all the movements you make in it – something with lots of physical variety, so not jogging or rowing, which are both quite repetitive; think of things like dancing, swimming, climbing, playing sport, whatever you enjoy or have enjoyed in the past. Set your timer (for 5 or 10 mins, your choice) and describe the movements!

Once you're done, grab a felt-tip and underline all the lovely movement words you used – eg for me, describing dancing, that might be lunge, dip, twirl, float...

🌿 Don't
☘️ keep
🍃 reading
🌳 till
🌱 you've
🌿 done
🍀 the 
🎋 first 
🌲 half

Part Two

Now, think of your favourite view or landscape. (I'm thinking of Port Meadow, and also of the mountains around the village of Çıralı, in Turkey) If you're struggling for ideas, try the Atlas Obscura for some of the world's most striking sights. Or if you have an imaginary world already, you could use one of the views or landscapes from that.

Describe the view or landscape, using all the same movement words that you used in the first half. So if my first half was dancing, and I lunged, dipped, twirled, then in Çıralı the mountain lunges into the sea, the vines twirl around the ruins, etc.

Why this exercise?

Description is a vital part of every genre of writing. In one of my workshops, we do an exercise where we highlight all the description in a double-page spread of novels of various genres and every genre is more than 40% description. So it's always important – but when part of your genre's raison d'être is imagining new worlds, it's doubly important and an absolutely core component of world-building. That doesn't mean we dump three pages of description at the start of every chapter: description always needs to be interwoven and included where it matters, as part of the narrative tension and purpose. But it does mean you're going to need plenty of it (at least 40%, remember!) and it needs to be interesting to read. Developing your descriptive repertoire is one of the best things you can do for yourself as a writer and finding more energetic descriptive language is a great way to do that.

If you'd like to find out more about the Imaginary Worlds course, you can read about it and book here. You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to get reminders.


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