Sunday, January 06, 2013

Experiment with Your Fiction

Over the holidays a friend gave me a copy of Sexton Burke's The Writer's Lab, a guided writing practice book in which every page challenges you to create on demand. Don't be fooled by the mad scientist-styled cover art, either; this is a seriously amazing vault of excellent writing exercises.

The author devotes only a single preface page to explaining how to use the book before diving into the challenges, which range all over the place, from creating an autobiographical haiku to writing James Bond as if the character was a woman. You also get to practices writing things like killing off a character from your favorite book, finding love-worthy qualities about the person who most makes you miserable, and imagining what the pilots and passengers of a plane about to crash would do in the last fifty seconds before impact.

I liked everything about this book: the black-and-white minimalist design of the pages, the imaginative quality of the exercises, and the many ways in which the author pushes you to practice not only the art but the more difficult aspects of it. This one is going with me on my road trip, and I expect I'll be filling up the pages in no time. Definitely recommended for any writer who enjoys challenges, wants to improve their craft and have fun in the process.

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