Happy Friday! Happy early Thanksgiving.
This week’s Word of the Day webinar is about using Thanksgiving to create a new scene for your current dramatic project or for a non-fiction book or blog.
First, we did warm-up exercises to improve our visualization and connect ourselves with our authentic selves:
1. The Self-Hug, which immediately creates an inner state where we tune in to ourselves and are ready to take some creative chances.
2. A warm-up to massage your hands and lower arms to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome, followed by a brief self-massage of our faces to bring our senses online.
4. The Fake Smile is a technique that helps you feel great by simply turning up the corners of your mouth, sending happy chemicals to your brain.
5. In a flow state, we verbally identified foods we personally associated with Thanksgiving, created a Word of the Day cluster, and then shared our memories of Thanksgiving past.
6. Then, we brainstormed a Word of the Day cluster for our imaginary characters.
7. Next, we wrote a scene for seven minutes using the following prompt: Students were asked to imagine where their characters would be on Thanksgiving and to begin the scene when the turkey was served.
The results were excellent. One student attended the class to inspire herself to complete an unfinished novel. In her scene, the main character’s husband carelessly breaks a treasured dish while carving the bird. Another student, who has been working on a screenplay based on a personal experience, wrote a new scene about a couple who are estranged after the terrible tragedy of being forced to spend Thanksgiving alone after the other guests cancel. Wow. Another student wrote a scene for two characters who come to a crisis at the Thanksgiving dinner table. The main character has to decide whether she will defend her daughter or the man she’s invited as a guest. Again, Wow! The non-fiction writer wrote a scene that dramatized her own mother’s impossible choices on Thanksgiving: her husband cooked, and her brother was always late for the meal.
These scenes were brave, and the writing was sure-footed and original. It’s always amazing to me what can be accomplished in a short time.
My scene was about my mother, who fell and broke her hip on Thanksgiving. This was the event that led to her demise on January 10. Writing the scene brought me a new insight: my mother was raised religiously Jewish, but when she had to prepare for her hip operation, she recited a kundalini yoga incantation I’d taught her. It hadn’t occurred to me until I wrote the scene that she was an atheist, and without this mantra, she would’ve had no one and nothing to connect to that was larger than herself!
We all got a lot out of the class, and here’s the email I received from one student:
The Word of the Day exercise last night was so thought-provoking. Food and holidays are so important in our lives that bringing Thanksgiving into my play was like opening a wormhole to another world. Holidays should be food, fun, and family; they are so much more. Thank you again for another opportunity to expand my horizons in building my characters and strengthening their dialogue.
Please join us for the next seminar on November 29.
The newsletter will resume on December 1st.
Here’s to your writing success,
Professor Marilyn Horowitz