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Get Your Groove On!

It's summer and the days are longer. So there's more time to write. In that spirit, here are some exercises to get you started and keep you going.

Q & A

Read Passport by Deb Olin Unferth. Use this story as a template for your own story. First, choose a question to put at the end of your story. Then start at the beginning and answer this question in the body. Add a changing refrain throughout, like in "Passport," playing off of the subject of your story: "Her blue bathroom pass…" and "Her welcome parade…" and "Her marked cards…"

Word by Word

Start by choosing a noun and a verb from the lists below. Construct a sentence around these two words. Let the next sentence be informed by the one that comes before it. Take risks. Don't self-censor. Continue, word by word, sentence by sentence. Write slowly, carefully. This exercise is the opposite of freewriting.


  • cake
  • hedge
  • fist
  • snow
  • wing


  • flipped
  • jumped
  • cropped
  • plugged
  • crimped


Write a how-to piece with a twist. Use terminology specific to a craft or profession that you are familiar with. For example:

  • How to knit your ex-lover into a sleeveless sweater.
  • How to write performance reviews of family members.
  • How to undo many of life's troubles, written like a Help file.

Twisted Tales

Take a favorite fairy tale or children's story and turn it on its head. For example:

  • Reimagine Rapunzel as a male.
  • Have the princess eat the pea.
  • Create a boring and harmless giant for Jack.
  • Write about the three little wigs instead of pigs.

Exercise Books

If you like writing exercises, you may want to check out What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers by Bernays and Painter or The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises from Poets Who Teach by Behn and Twichell.

Write on!

Copyright © 2003–2009 Angela Jane Fountas. All rights reserved.
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