Thursday, February 28, 2013

WRITERS BLOCK: No Handlebars

As writers, we do a lot of exercises to get inside the heads of our characters. We want to understand them and their motivations.

I do a writing exercise I call No Handlebars. It comes from one of my kids' favorite songs, Handlebars by Flobots, a band out of Denver. It's a simple exercise based on the lyrics of the song. The song starts with:

I can ride my bike with no handlebars
No handlebars
No handlebar

The singer continues with a list of those simple accomplishments, the things he's proud of, the things that make him unique.

I can take apart the remote control
And I can almost put it back together
I can tie a knot in a cherry stem
I can tell you about Leif Ericson

The list escalates as we see what's important to him as we see him aging or maturing. The song is broken into three verses, so I view it naturally as where he came from, who he is now, and finally who he aspires to be.

So my writing challenge: take the lyrics of the song Handlebars  and rewrite them for your character. Though they are important, don't just focus on the material and the tangible. What are those deep-seated desires and longings that motivate your character's actions?

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