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Warming up for 2015

January 14, 2015

Our group is hot and cold on warm-up exercises. Some people find the time-pressure of free writing too daunting and others don’t like to share the results unless they have time to edit.

But it’s a new year. We started our first meeting with a writing prompt from PRISM International:  Seeing Red by Clara Kumagai. “Begin with a colour. What’s your character’s favourite colour? Red?”

Each of us listed a colour. We wrote brainstormed lists of everything we could see with that colour. After 5 minutes or so, we took the exercise further and tried to imagine what our characters might notice in the world around them, what they cared about, and what they feared. I saw green

I saw a character who loves colour, notices gardens and needs to feed people. She grows tomatoes on her balcony, has no job and has a phobia about people wearing outdoor shoes indoors.

Another writer applied the exercise to a character she is struggling to develop. She saw periwinkle and sorted out a plot line. She gained insight into her character but couldn’t link the colour to phobias. We all agreed that the exercise helped us think about our fictional characters’ natural idiosyncrasies. We agreed that we could adapt the exercise to any sort of prompt–a mug, a car, a sound…. Try it! And check out the prompts page on PRISM.

Thanks, Clara.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jennifer Watkins permalink
    January 15, 2015 10:05 am


    My name is Jennifer Watkins and I have been receiving your emails for a few months now. I am currently working with choreographer Maxine Heppner. Her upcoming production New Dance, Old Stories takes place in downtown Toronto this February 5-8. As the show is about stories we are holding the Very Short Story Festival during the run.

    For the festival we are inviting people to share a very short 50-250 word story that will be posted at the theatre. You will find a press release with information about the show and festival and a notice with details of how to send us a story.

    I hope you will be able to share this information

    Thank you for your time and interest.

    Very best regards,


  2. Valerie McDonald permalink
    January 15, 2015 6:09 pm

    Hi Jennifer, Yes, I’m happy to share it. Thanks for the notice.

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