Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The value of writing exercises

Saskatchewan writer smilin' Edward Willett (above) does a weekly science column for the CBC and the Regina Leader Post. You can sign up to have the print version emailed to you for free each week right here.

Ed has twice been my writing student at the Banff Centre (in 2003 and 2005), and he begins his latest science column with this personal note:
I'm thrilled to announce I've sold a second novel to DAW Books, via my agent, Ethan Ellenberg, for publication in (probably) 2007. The as-yet untitled book will be a stand-alone science fiction novel, not a sequel to my science fiction novel Lost in Translation, which DAW is bringing out in mass-market paperback this October. (A Lost in Translation sequel remains a possibility for the future.)

It's not often I know the precise date when a story or novel was born, but I do in this case: it was born on September 20, 2005, during the Writing With Style workshop on writing speculative fiction taught by Robert J. Sawyer at the Banff School of Fine Arts. That morning I and fellow workshoppers were asked to write, as a classroom exercise, the opening lines of a story. The opening line I wrote became an unfinished short story which in turn became the basis of the synopsis that sold the new novel to DAW.


At July 18, 2006 9:42 PM , Blogger Scott said...

I totally agree that random writing exercises can sometimes generate the most creative ideas. Starting with a random sentence, seeing where it goes, playing with ideas, is often more productive than trying to pigeon-hole some preconceived idea into existence.

At July 19, 2006 12:31 AM , Blogger Edward Willett said...

It certainly worked for me this time!

Thanks for the mention, Rob, although upon reading your post I suddenly realized for the first time that I called the Banff Centre the Banff School of Fine Arts. Which of course it was...prior to 1989.

I may write about the future, but apparently I live in the past. :)


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