This week I gave a workshop on revision for the Knoxville chapter of Friends of Literacy. Here’s one of our exercises. Often in fiction (or non-fiction) characters enter a “new land,” sometimes literally, but often simply a radically new situation. This exercise helps you unlock the potential of the “new land.” It’s fast and fun and may lead to profitable revisions. If it helps you, let me know! I’ll be posting other revision exercises.
IN A STRANGE LAND: You (or your character) leaves a familiar place. Old skills, connections and knowledge don’t help. Answer quickly. Notice that the exercise starts with sensory reality and moves to emotional reality. Don’t overthink your answers. There’s time for that later.
1. I (s/he) was a stranger in a strange land when . . .
2. I (s/he) looked around and saw . . .
3. and heard . . . .
4. and felt/tasted/smelled . . .
5. and remembered . . .
6. and was afraid (or excited) because . . . .
7. and more than anything wanted, needed . . .
8. usually, I/he/she would have . . . . .but this time, I discovered . . . .
9. I/he/she felt so . . . .
10. one comfort, one hope or strength was that . . .
11. I/he/she I decided to . . . .
12. and then . . .