Creole began to tell us what the blues are all about. They were not about anything very new. He and his boys up there were keeping it new, at the risk of ruin, destruction, madness, and death, in order to find new ways to make us listen. For, while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard. There isn’t any other tale to tell, it’s the only light we’ve got in all this darkness.
~James Baldwin and “Sonny’s Blues” as read by Margot Livesay and The Hidden Machinery
Consider these opening strategies for the beginnings of stories, but consider them as ways of revising the beginnings of chapters or sections within your novella. They are part of the ever excellent Metro: Journeys in Writing Creatively.
Consider this exercise from the making of a story by Alice LaPlante:
- Write about an event in your character’s past without which the current situation couldn’t exist.
- Write about the current situation from the point of view of a character looking back from ten years in the future.
- Make a list of the things that won’t happen to the characters as a result of the current situation. (554)
Write a note to yourself about how knowledge from this exercise might inform your revision plans.
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)
Consider this Q and A exercise from Brian Kiteley’s outstanding The 3 A.M. Epiphany.
From the outstanding Metro: Journeys in Writing Creatively by Hans Ostrom, Wendy Bishop, and Katherine Haake, consider this exercise about names.
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 MetaphorByMetaphor.com.