WRITE YOUR LIFE – Session #5

Shape your ideas, dreams, anecdotes and memories

 into fascinating stories to share.

Exercise #1

Take the brief write-up of your dream and analyze it, identifying the following: POV, tone, mood, setting

Exercise #2

Using your dream paragraph as a starting point, write a short story, expanding the dream in any direction you want. E.g. fantasy, horror, comedy e.g. add characters, change setting, set POV.

Exercise #3

Work through the checklist below, writing out your answers, and using them to flesh in the character(s) in your story.

Checklist for Character Development

I think my characters are very normal, very typical people.

But I’m assuming the range of what is normal is very wide.

Mary Gaitskill 

  1. Ask yourself why? for everything your character does. Know your character’s motivation.
  2. Do you know how your character will act in the situations you place her in? Show how.
  3. Does your character have a dominant character trait and a subdominant trait? i.e. loyalty (strength), stubbornness (weakness). These can be effective tool for writing short stories.
  4. Do the characters experience conflict?
  5. Do you use one of the following to allow the reader to see the character’s emotions?Dialogue – words, tone and attitude show character’s emotionInterior dialogue thoughts – not about feelings but about what is causing feelings
  6. Setting – becomes a metaphor for the character’s feelings
  7. Action – behavior expresses feelings (i.e. striding, charging, tiptoeing)
  8. Does your character pull on the reader’s heartstrings?
  9. Does each character have his or her distinct voice?
  10. Do you make clear from whose Point of View you are writing?
  11. Is the dialogue effective?
  12. Do you use the simplicity of a minute detail to describe your characters? (read the great Russian writers: Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Gorky, Chekov – they are masters at this technique)
  13. Do you hear the underlying voice (your voice)? What picture of the writer does the reader get?
  14. Do you dole out character information a small bit at a time throughout the story, rather than dump it all on the first page.

A writer’s knowledge of himself, realistic and unromantic, is like a store of energy on which he must draw for a lifetime;

one volt of it properly directed will bring a character alive.

Graham Greene

How To Use Your Stories as Gifts

  • Tell a story about a person on a special occasion (wedding, anniversary)
  • Make a video and share it on a special occasion or at a family gathering.
  • Tape an absent member and play for gathering of connected people.
  • Self-publish a collection of your stories – family, community – give them as gifts or market them
  • Write out a story or collection and give it to each person in the family (Christmas, Easter or Valentines)
  • Sell your stories to periodicals or local news media
  • Send copies of your published stories to the people you interviewed for them
  • Use stories as quotes or inserts in photo albums
  • Use them as Eulogies at memorial services
  • Collect them as valuable information for an adopted child or a parent who has given up a child.
  • Write letters to a particular person (grandchild) that are collected for them to have as adults, these letters trace events in their life from your POV
  • Write or present poems or stories that honor someone you know –e.g., roast of a colleague
  • Write dramas for local church, community events, special occasions

Affirmation: My life has value. People are interested in knowing about me. My words have value.  I am creative and able to write my stories and the stories of others.

Assignment: Keep collecting ideas and writing stories from them.


Contact masmid@sasktel.net and request a customized course designed to help you meet your writing goals. I have an 88% rate of success. The 12% that don’t succeed give up on writing. I don’t give up on them.

Courses run from four to eight sessions, and are timed to your writing schedule (every week, two weeks, etc.) and are designed from beginner to advanced levels of writing.



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