Scene 1: There is Nothing to Writing. All You Do Is Sit Down at a Typewriter and Bleed.

Writing Guidelines

  1. Start the above timer.
  2. Write a first person narrative, in ten minutes or less.
  3. If at any point, the narrative derivates from the original prompt, let it; go where your creativity leads you.
  4. Resist the urge to edit new scenes, try to hold off until the end of the month, focus on your creative process and put the editor away for now.
  5. Stop writing when the timer stops. Take a break. Stand up. Grab a drink. Keep writing new words if you like or, if not, file the scene/narrative in your novel folder.
  6. If you would like to share your narrative, post it to the discussion board below and share it with your course peers. If you end up expanding this narrative into a fuller work and would like written, individualized feedback on it, we invite you to join us for a One on One Workshop. Submit your work at the bottom of this page.
  7. If you have already begun your narrative or are rewriting a fully drafted narrative, use this prompt to further explore character and place. Rewriting a scene can be a fantastic step in the revision process.


Writing Prompt

Who is the worst person you’ve ever known, someone with whom you have had personal experience? Place this person in front of a reflective surface—mirror, body of water, knife’s blade, window at night, television screen…—and make this person face self in a true, honest and vulnerable way. What is this person wearing? Where is this person? What is behind, below, etc. the reflective surface? Find the humanity in this person. There are no villains or saints.

Dig deep into your perspectives and memories for this. DO NOT FLINCH. If this person does not make you shudder or angry or fearful—emotional in some way—dig deeper for someone who has. Remember, we’re not writing villains and saints here. There is no good and evil in literary fiction. Everyone has both. You’ll need to find both in this character as you write the character. This will be difficult, yes, but it will also mine visceral experiences. Don’t worry. Your final draft and narrative will not be about this person. You will simply use pieces of this person, and this experience, to fuel characterization and mine what matters most to you as an artist and human. For this reason, don’t worry if this person is a family member or someone else you care about. This scene, today, is a starting point. By the end of this first draft, it will all be fiction and amalgamation. If this first scene is not difficult and emotional for you, then you aren’t digging deeply enough. “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed” (Ernest Hemingway).




Submit for Individualized Feedback

Please use Universal Manuscript Guidelines when submitting: .doc or .docx, double spacing, 10-12 pt font, Times New Roman, 1 inch margins, first page header with contact information, section breaks “***” or “#.”