Writing exercises

This weekend Patricia Wrede briefly discussed writing exercises in the context of how writers can try to improve.

In the comments, I said

I used to see little point to exercises. But after becoming a plotter rather than a pantser, I get much more out of them. Whenever I do exercises, I pick a story or book that’s in the planning stages, and do them with those characters/setting. It helps me generate ideas for that story, so it doesn’t feel like a waste of time.

I should be doing this now, actually, for the next novel I’m going to work on, so that when I really sit down to plan it out this fall I have a better idea of what the characters are like and what I want to have happen.

So far this year I’ve been doing a fair number of exercises: I’ve been taking a bunch of online workshops from various RWA chapters on characters and feelings and related topics. Right now I’m taking a class on revising for emotional impact, and the exercises have been to revise passages from our current project, keeping the current lesson’s topic in mind. Which is a useful kind of exercise, since I’d be revising those chapters anyway.

Do you guys find exercises useful?

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