Saturday, December 10, 2011

getting some exercise

This week I thought I'd pass along a short writing exercise even though I can't take any credit for it. It was introduced by Lisa Rector-Maass at a workshop I attended last year. This is a powerful exercise having to do with evoking emotion and mood through setting. You'll see what I mean if you give it a try.

Picture a barn. In front of it stands a farmer. He has just received word that his daughter has given birth to his first grandchild, a healthy baby boy. Describe the barn through his eyes but do not mention the farmer, his daughter, or his new grandson.
Picture the same barn. In front of it stands the same farmer. He has just received word that his only son has been killed at war. Describe the barn without mentioning the farmer, his son, or the fact that his son has died.

Setting can reflect intense emotion and evoke powerful moods by engaging the senses in visual images, sounds, smells, colors, light, and motion. If a barn can come alive...any setting can. Setting then moves the story along instead of taking the reader out.

Or this?
I loved this exercise. What did you think of it?
"It's not what you look at that matters,
it's what you see."
--Henry David Thoreau--
If for some reason I don't find time to post next week, I want to wish everyone a wonderful, deep, white Christmas and a peaceful New Year!


  1. This is a great exercise! I can see it modified for different characters and settings. It could be used as a warm up or as a regular exercise. I sure need to practice.

    Happy holidays and best wishes to you!


  2. You're so right, Ana. This is a great tool. Wishing you a peaceful holiday season. Thanks for stopping by.