Improving on talent: writing exercises

Ever since I decided to get more serious about writing a novel (as opposed to a screenplay), I began to look for materials on how to improve my quality of writing and to expand my scope of style and voice.The thing is, my writing skills so far have been a product of my own talent. I learned very little on how to write well. My ability to write is an innate one, not an actively learned one. However, I knew that I could achieve even greater levels of aptitude. Up until now, I could only spout the words that emerged from my mind. I had no clue as to what my own personal style was, and I had no idea how to verbalize and solidify my observations on the usage of the written word.

And so I decided to educate myself on such matters. Among a great number of books I obtained in pursuit of greater knowledge, I found Immediate Fiction: A Complete Writing Course. I thoroughly enjoy the author’s style. Not only is it welcoming, his story of how he came to be a writing coach echos my own experiences and confirms many of my beliefs about writing as an art.One of the first exercises in his book was to simply write for half an hour. At the time, I only lasted five minutes for lack of creative energy, but here is what I came up with (the first topic that was suggested was a blind date: I chose it instantly)

Victor was calming his nerves. He had already made it this far: an hour and a half away from home by train, Victor walked up the stairs to emerge from the subway station. He took the phone out of his pocket and scrolled his way down to his blind date: Helen. He held his breathe for a second, hesitating. He had never seen Helen before. All he knew was that she was from Europe and that she was “dealing with some issues.” So for all he knew he could be meeting a strung out psychopathic woman of nightmarish proportions. Oh how the thought of such an ugly personality frightened Victor. He began to wonder what Helen looked like, but just as quickly as those thoughts drifted into consciousness, he wiped them clean from his mind. He was terribly ashamed for thinking such disgustingly superficial thoughts. What was it that brought him here in the first place? No photos, no phone calls. Only the idea that this Helen could be the woman of his dreams. Victor was a rare type of man, and he was looking for a rare type of woman. And Helen was a perfect match, at least from what he could tell from the short email exchange that they had so far. So with a great faith in his own abilities to figure people out, Victor pressed the dial button. With the phone ringing, he cleared his throat and hummed a low tone, hoping to make his voice deeper and clearer.

“Hi, Helen?”
“Hey. I’m here,” a feminine and slightly accented voice replied.

I’ll come back to this, I suppose it will be in a total of six parts.