I noticed recently that my writing (at least in my first drafts) is getting a bit limited in terms of expressiveness, vocabulary, and so on. A quick google search for ‘writing exercises’ uncovered plenty of ideas for kickstarting the flow of creative juices and building good habits; but not so many that focused on improving the quality of your prose. So, I decided to come up with some of my own.

Here’s a disclaimer: at this point in time I’ve not put any of these to the test. I’m publishing them in case anyone else finds them useful or inspiring, and also to see if anyone has any other excellent writing exercises to share. Please use the comments with vigorous abandon! In the meantime, once I’ve tried these (or any other suggested exercises) I’ll report back on my experiences.

Writing exercises

Exercise 1

Rewrite the following scene as many times, with as many variations, as you like, without using the words ‘turn’ or ‘look’:

Bob looked at Alice. “I never realised you were so beautiful.”
Alice turned to face Bob: “I never knew you were so observant.”

Exercise 2

Take a favourite scene from a movie or TV show. Write at least three different prose ‘novelisations’ of that scene: the first relating the scene as depicted; subsequent versions using different character viewpoints or perspectives. Avoiding repeating any phrases across your different versions.

Exercise 3

Write a prose narration as you undertake this exercise: writing about the process of you writing about writing. (e.g. “I put my pen to the paper and …”)

Exercise 4

Describe an object that you can see right now without using the name of that object. Avoid describing the object in purely literal terms (e.g. of the sun: “it is bright, yellow and round and we orbit around it”).

Exercise 5

Write a short passage about two people communicating without speaking to one another.