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Skyros Blog

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We thought we'd bring you some wisdom from Sam North, author of over 8 novels, and facilitator of the June Writers' Lab holiday: 8 - 15 June (£595) to be held at The Skyros Centre in Skyros island, Greece.

These exercises are a sure-fire way to improve your writing style and bring your characters to life so that they jump off the page!

1. Take one of your characters for a drive.

Put him (or her) behind the steering wheel of an old banger, and while he drives you can interrogate his thoughts, his situation. Now write the sequence again, and put him (or her) behind the wheel of a very new, luxury car, of some description. After leaving the material to sit for a while, read both again and measure your own reaction, as a reader, to the evidence of wealth. 

2 Command a character to perform five acts of kindness.

Then, make that character even kinder –– until they are kind to a fault. Put them in a situation where their virtue transforms into a vice and that the character's kindness becomes some a weakness it leads to their downfall.

3. Stand your characters next to each other ...

... and list in which ways they are similar and in which ways they are opposite to each other, both in terms of their physical attributes, their characters and their deep, unavoidable character traits. It makes a difference to put a rich person next to a poor person, a person with good table manners next to a sloppy eater, a brave person next to a timid person. Once you have made these lists, swap them around, play God. And watch out for any nuggets of a story, of incident, that come to mind as a consequence of this exercise. Make a note of these incidents.

More exercises and advice can be found in the 'Five Analogies for Fiction Writing' by Sam North, now available at The Book Depository. Or, you can follow Sam's 'Five Analogies for Fiction Writing' on twitter:



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