Tag Archives: writing prompts

Wednesday Writing Exercise: Character Studies

We’ve got two creative writing exercises for you today, both designed to add wonderful flesh to your characters’ bare bones. They’re brought to you courtesy of author and Academy tutor, Richard Skinner.

If you don’t have a work-in-progress, or you fancy doing a little palate-cleanser


A couple are taking part in a pub quiz. The woman wants a baby, but, unbeknownst to her, her partner is about to end their relationship.

Write a scene of dialogue.

If you do have a manuscript on the move


Make a character you’re having trouble with write a letter to you, the author.


Richard Skinner

Richard Skinner is the Director of Fiction at Faber Academy. He’s a tutor on our six-month Writing a Novel course, now accepting applications for October, and also teaches our Start to Write one day courses.

For more creative writing exercises, why not play QuickFic with us on Friday? Write a short story using a new prompt each week for the chance to win books!

Wednesday Writing Exercise: Achieving the Impossible

What can we say? We like to aim big.WednesdayWritingExercise_carousel_icon

Giving your main character a goal is an essential way to drive plot. Their motivations can change over the course of the novel, but they should always be there. Katniss wants to protect her sister, and then she wants to survive. Pip wants Estella to love him, and therefore to become a gentleman. Later, realising the error of his ways, the thing he wants most dearly is Joe’s forgiveness. These desires propel the characters into action, and action propels the novel.

This week on our Edit Your Novel course, the students are talking about middles. Middles are hard bits, aren’t they? They can be too saggy or too short, they can lose direction or a sense of imperative. With that in mind, our first writing exercise is for those of you who might be stuck in the middle of a project.

If you’ve got a work-in-progress on the go

Spend some time thinking about each of your characters and what they’re trying to achieve at this point in your novel. What do they want? How do they plan to get it? Is it out of their reach, and will that stop them trying? And if it isn’t out of their reach, how can you take it away from them?

And if you aren’t working on something at the moment



500 words on this chap please. Where is he going? Where has he come from?

Enjoy this? Join us each Wednesday for new creative writing exercises and prompts. You could also check out our QuickFic competition each Friday – write a 250 word story on our chosen writing prompt for the chance to win a stack of books!


QuickFic 06/02/12: The Winner

Well. Wasn’t that fun?

As you’ll recall, this was this week’s prompt:



We asked you, as we always do, to write us a story about it in 250 words or less. We fully expected at least half of those to be Potter-ish. That did not happen. Instead, you went full-out inspired-to-the-max and came up with all kinds of things.

But we had to choose a winner so we could give them all of the books, and so choose a winner we did.

RUNNER-UP: Liam Hogan


It was plainly ridiculous. The result of watching too many sci-fi horror films too late at night. I should know; I was the one who’d been showing them to him.

“For starters, a house is not alive.” I told him.

He looked at me from under that daft fringe. “Even old ones? Even… Granddad’s house?”

I reddened, but refused to take the bait. The feelings you get as a kid are no basis for rational argument.

“They’re not alive, they can’t sustain life – “

“People live in them…”

“ – and even if they could, what sort of creature would burst out of a second story roof?”

“That,” he said, with a half grimace, “is what’s worrying me.”

I shook my head, an exaggerated expression I’d seen Mum do to much greater effect. “Come on, quit dragging your heels.”

The memory of the old house, its roof burst open, lingered even after it was out of sight. We walked in silence, until Tommy clutched my arm and pointed through a chain-link fence opposite our destination.

A digger stood at a jaunty angle halfway up a pile of bricks. In the low sun, it gleamed black rather than yellow, the swoop of its outstretched arm loomed over us, poised to strike.

I nodded in relief. This was safe, this was known.

I took a deep breath and straightened the sombre tie around his neck as we mounted the wreathed steps and rang the bell of our Granddad’s house for the very last time.


WINNER: Sharon Telfer


“Sorry, hard hats on, please.”

Their entrance had disturbed the air. Dust motes spiralled, a double helix in the shafts of sun. 

“It’s actually much more structurally sound than it looks. But got to keep the Health and Safety chaps happy…”

She had expected damp and mustiness. Instead, warmth swaddled her. She thought she could smell baking bread.

“…once one of the most important houses in town… Oh, you’ve seen the Pevsner entry? That fireplace, of course. Magnificent.” 

The leaded lights scattered the floor with diamonds. At the edge of her eye she saw something flicker, but when she turned her head, it had gone.

“Yes, we understand the council will be very sympathetic. All sorts of grants available…”

At each tread the wood gave a little, then rocked gently back. Nothing in the house was still.

“Do mind the stairs. The floors have all been treated but it’s still very uneven!” 

There were wings around her head, a beating of wings up into the sun. She felt as light as air.

“The pigeons have made themselves at home, I’m afraid. Soon sorted, though, once the roof’s done…”

A down feather settled at her feet. Deep inside, she sensed something shift.

“I say, steady there… All right? As I said, the floors… All part of the charm…”

She would take the test when they got home but already she knew. Time opened up before her.


Congratulations, Liam and Sharon!

And thanks for all the brilliant entries. We’ll be back at ten to ten next Friday with a brand new prompt. Happy weekends, all.

If writing competitions are your bag and you can’t wait until next Friday, why not check out our Wednesday writing exercise? There’s no prize except productivity – but we’d still love to see what you come up with. 

QuickFic 06/02/15

Good morning, QuickFic-ers! It’s 9:50am, which means a brand-new writing prompt just for you.

BUT FIRST! A brief reminder of how this thing works:

At ten to ten every Friday morning, we give you a prompt. You write up to 250 words of fiction about that prompt, give it a title, and send them to us at academy@faber.co.uk by 2.50pm.

At 3.30pm, we announce a winner, and the winner wins a stack of wonderful books. You can see a picture of those at the bottom of the page.

Anyway. Let’s get going, shall we? This week’s prompt is THIS:



And those books that the winner will win? T’is these:



L-R: The New York Trilogy, Open City, After I’m Gone, Hidden Symptoms, The Hard Problem

See you back here at 3.30!

If it’s writing competitions you’re after, we do this every Friday. We also give you a new writing exercise each Wednesday, although all you win for those is the joy of a page full of words. And what better prize than words??