Fiction Writing Exercises: Become Your Nemesis
These fiction writing exercises will benefit both fiction and nonfiction writers.
They are designed to help fiction writers gain a better understanding of antagonistic or elusive characters and will help nonfiction writers relate to contradictory or opposing viewpoints.
The idea is to try and view the world from a perspective that is completely different from your own and to get inside the head of someone who is not like you.
Fiction Writing Exercises
Fiction writing exercises are a great way to work your writing muscles, especially when you’re feeling uninspired. And while this exercise doesn’t exactly deal with politics, it sure is good practice for political and advocacy writers, as it will help with making predictions about an opponents’ arguments and addressing them in advance.
And like all fiction writing exercises, these are great for aspiring novelists and folks who enjoy penning short stories. Characters are the heart and soul of any story, and to make them real and vivid, you have to be able to get inside their heads. And that’s a challenge.
Never underestimate the power of a challenge. For example, can you put yourself in someone else’s shoes — someone who is completely your opposite?
Step into My Shoes – I Dare You!
By stepping into another person’s shoes, or writing from a viewpoint that contradicts our own, we can generate characters that are more realistic, and we can craft stronger arguments. For this writing exercise, you will select a person, position, or belief with which you are at odds. Do you have a neighbor who argues that he should not pay his share for the fencing on your shared property line? Are you for or against the death penalty? Do you adhere to the Ten Commandments?
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Think of a person that constantly has you gritting your teeth. It could be someone close to you, perhaps a relative. Or it could be someone in the media spotlight — a politician, celebrity, or sports star. It could even be a character from a book or movie. It needs to be someone with whom you feel inner conflict and who possibly makes you uncomfortable.
When you sit down to write, you will write as if you are this individual. Write an essay, in first person, from this individual’s perspective, and make a concentrated effort to address those things that bother you.
Many of us have very strong positions on various issues. Some are serious and others aren’t very important in the grand scheme of things. Do you eat meat or are you a vegetarian? Are you a conservative or a liberal? Do you support stem cell research? Are you for or against the war in Iraq? Look at some of the top news stories this week for more ideas. For a more lighthearted approach, look to lifestyle differences. Do people outside the mainstream intrigue or offend you? How important are table manners? Mac or PC?
Whatever your personal stance is, write as if you held the exact opposite position. Argue against your own arguments and discover what the other side is thinking. This can build empathy and lead to discovery and insight.
What religion or philosophy do you adhere to? Chances are, whatever it is you believe with regard to ethics and spirituality, there are a whole bunch of people out there who see things in quite a different light. Are you an atheist? Write as a Catholic. Do you believe in evolution or intelligent design? Write as an agnostic.
Use this exercise to better understand the similarities and differences between contrary ways of thinking and believing.
Write at least 1000 words as your own nemesis. The piece can take the form of a letter (especially useful if you choose a person), an opinion editorial, personal essay, or memoir. Don’t be afraid to get creative! Try writing a poem (great approach if you’ve chosen to write about beliefs) or flash fiction.
This is a great writing exercise to revisit, especially if you get stuck with one of your fictional characters. Can’t figure out what your villain would do next? Write a short piece in first person point of view from your villain’s perspective.
Remember, you’re not mimicking the other side, you are stepping into it. Try to relate to the way your opposite thinks and feels, and remember that each of us is shaped by our life experiences.
Good luck and try to have fun with these and other fiction writing exercises!
If you have any fiction writing exercises to share, feel free to post them in the comments.
Are you looking for more fiction writing exercises? Pick up a copy of 101 Creative Writing Exercises, available in paperback and ebook.