How One Class Activity Has Helped Me Write

By Nicolas Lucente, Multiplatform Journalism Major, D.U.Quark Intern

For my internship, I have been writing for the D.U.Quark. I took on this internship because I need three extra credits for my minor, which is creative writing, and all of the creative writing classes were full. I am grateful for this internship, but the D.U.Quark is a science magazine and I am writing science fiction stories for the publication. I’m trying to combine the science that is the magazine’s purpose with the fiction background I have through my creative writing courses, good news is the science fiction is a thing and it works out great. 

However, in every fiction writing scenario, you eventually run into a wall. A wall where you really do not know where to go from there. Even before you get to that wall, coming up with a concept with an actual plot before you start writing can be just as difficult of an obstacle to overcome. That brings me to this topic, an in-class activity that helped me get through those initial steps faster and efficiently. It is not 100% effective and you won’t be writing the next Harry Potter series using this technique, but it helps.

In my junior year, I took a playwriting class, my first playwriting class. I had written fiction stories prior to this class, but I had never written a play, which I found to be very different. One day, I come to class and our professor decides to start the class off a little differently with a group activity. The directions were very simple, the professor would ask us a question and we would have somewhere between 20 and 30 seconds to write as much as we could in response to the question. Then, the professor would ask another question immediately after the time was up and we had to quickly switch from answering one question to the next.

Now for the most part, after about 10 straight questions, you will have a lot of content on a piece of paper that is mostly completely random and out of sorts. However, if done correctly, you will at least have a place, a character and an overall concept of a plot to build upon. It could be a terribly dumb plot, but it’s still a plot. From there you go wherever you want with what you have written down, the point is to get your brain moving.

I found that the activity forced me to completely switch how I was thinking in a moment’s notice, going from describing the environment of the scene to how the main character will act to the conflict that said character will have to encounter. 

I bring this up because I still use this activity when I feel stuck with my writing or I am simply feeling not creative. Since I am writing science fiction for my internship, I have used this activity just to get the juices flowing. Again, it does not always work in the way that you will have a whole concept of a story laid out by the end, but it will start up that creative engine.

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