Writing Activities: Building Your Writing Skills (with Friends)
Somehow, this is already my 50th post, so I wanted to take a slightly different, more fun approach to writing and discuss some writing games and activities.
Whether you have a writing club at your school, a group of writing buddies, or just some friends who want to get involved with writing, group writing activities can make for a fun bonding experience while enhancing your writing skills. Here, I have a list of some writing-related activities to try out, including some that can be completed individually.
Collaboration Stories: Determine a premise for your story with a group discussion, a decision from the first contributor, or a prompt generator. Contributors then take turns contributing paragraphs, sentences, or even words if you really want to mix it up. Decide how often you want to switch people before starting. You can have contributors simply call out (or type up) the next sentence when they get a good idea, but this lack of order may create chaos or a situation where only two people are contributing. Use your judgment to decide if you want to moderate the collaboration. Eventually, you’ll have an incredible story with little pieces and ideas from multiple authors. This can help you discover how your writing style and thought process is unique and learn from others.
Guess the Character: Each person can write a description of a literary character’s personality (without mentioning their specific experiences, setting, name, or any defining parts of their identity). Shuffle and redistribute these descriptions and have everyone try to guess the character based on the descriptions. This can help you with character development and description.
Story Cards: Give each person a random one-word topic. Have one person start a story with a sentence that includes their word. Another should continue with a sentence that includes their word. See how long you can extend the story if each person keeps getting new words. This forces you to be creative and find connections between seemingly unconnected things.
Pitching: The writing industry is a scary and difficult place, but being able to pitch an idea well can make it a whole lot easier. What better place to start practicing than with friends? Have everyone prepare pitches for story ideas they have or stories they have already written. If they don’t have anything in mind, you could give them a writing prompt or a story that has already been written. Each person then takes turns presenting their “elevator pitches.” If they want it, open the floor to constructive criticism or feedback from others. And after all the pitches are done, everyone can vote (blindly, to avoid bias) on their favorite pitches and choose to “publish” one.
Activities that Can be Completed Individually:
The activities below can be done individually, but they’re always more fun when other people are struggling alongside you and can help you analyze your final product. You can also use them as warm-ups for writing sessions.
Impromptu Writing: Use a random topic generator or any other method to come up with an arbitrary writing topic. Take a short amount of time (2–3 minutes) to write a couple paragraphs or a story about the topic. These one-word topics are slightly different from typical writing prompts, because writing about a specific topic requires a different thought process than writing about a theme or developing a story from the premise. Most importantly: don’t pass your topic even if you know nothing about it! Sometimes, we have to write about things we don’t like or understand and it is an important skill to develop.
Bad Writing: Think about your biggest bad habit when writing (ex: vague descriptions, unnatural dialogue, overly long sentences, overuse of adverbs, etc.). Then, either write a story based on a prompt or rewrite an old piece accentuating that bad habit. For example, if your bad habit is overusing commas, write a piece filled with commas. To increase the fun: read the piece out-loud, pausing at all the commas. This increases your awareness of your bad habit and can subconsciously deter you from resorting to it in the future.
Pitch from a Character: Write a letter from the perspective of a character of your choice (an existing one or one from your creation). This letter should be a pitch from the character explaining why an author should write about them. Talk about how interesting their life is and what lessons they have learned through their experiences.
Switching Styles: Take a piece (that you, a published author, or a friend wrote) and switch the format. Take a work of prose and make it a poem, or turn a poem into a screenplay. This forces you to think about the story or piece of writing from a different perspective and write in a different manner. Switching formats can open your eyes to the formatting and grammatical guidelines of different writing styles.
Description (five senses): Take a generic scene (scuba diving, karaoke night, etc.) and write the scene using one of the five senses other than sight (because that’s too easy). If you’re playing with multiple people, switch with someone and continue while using another sense (again, not sight). Every experience engages multiple senses, and it’s important to practice writing these senses.
Alphabet Story: Write a short story with twenty-six words, each starting with the corresponding letter of the alphabet. It doesn’t have to make much sense, but it shouldn’t be complete gibberish either. As a challenge, make it grammatically correct.
What writing activities have you tried or do you plan to try? Let me know in the comments!