The mystery in your draft

Consider exercise #197 from The 3 A.M. Epiphany by Brian Kiteley:

Embracing the mystery. Write a brief description of something you do not understand about the story or novel you are working on. It is quite likely you’ll begin to understand this mystery as you write it down, but try to avoid coming to a conclusion as long as possible. Describe the mystery as carefully as you can, leaving out explanations and rationalizations. (239)

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I am your draft. AMA.

Consider this Q and A exercise from Brian Kiteley’s outstanding The 3 A.M. Epiphany.

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2250 Names

From the outstanding Metro: Journeys in Writing Creatively by Hans Ostrom, Wendy Bishop, and Katherine Haake, consider this exercise about names.

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Poems as dialogue

From David Starkey’s excellent Creative Writing,

Read published poems . . . and respond to them with poems of your own. It doesn’t matter whether you respond to the subject of the other person’s poem or just a single line or image. Generally it’s most effective to find the moment of maximum energy or tension in the published poem. Identify what excites you about the poem, then make the same thing happen in your own work.

Try this using either a favorite poem or one of the “2250 Five poems” at

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Poems as letters

From David Starkey’s excellent Creative Writing,

Write a poem in the form of a letter. Richard Hugo’s book 31 Letters and 13 Dreams is a great source for these types of poems. Hugo addresses poems to close old friends and to newer fiends he doesn’t yet know well. He brings these people detailed news of his own life and asks for information about their world. However, because the letter is in the form of a poem, Hugo condenses what he has to say and present the material as eloquently—and as imagistically—as possible.

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2250 Five poems

Consider these five poems.

We will talk about them in more detail during class.

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Toward a synopsis

Answer each of the following questions. Use just one sentence in each answer.

  • How did your protagonist get involved in the story?
  • What conflict arises to move the novella forward?
  • What is the broad setting of your novella?
  • What is the main thing that that will make your novella interesting to readers?

Combine the above information into a paragraph of fewer than 50 words.


Write a one-page synopsis in the following format:

  • Use the paragraph you’ve just written.
  • Then, in one paragraph, explain the plot points involving your main character. Mention only the main plot points. Mention the most important secondary characters.
  • Then, in one paragraph, describe how the novella’s main conflicts are resolved. Reveal the ending.

(inspired by a post at

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