I’ve taken two writing workshops with Monica Wood (whose Pocket Muse books I highly recommend), and in each she did an exercise where we went around the room each person saying a word until we had quite a lengthy list, maybe three to five rounds depending on the number of people you had in the room. Then everyone wrote a story using the words generated.
I called these lists Word Hoards, a term I learned from Beowulf. I’ve done this exercise in turn with groups I’ve led, and keep the list in a notebook so I can go back and find words to inspire me. Over time, I started doing Word Hoards for my characters. I imagine I am one of my characters and that I’m participating in this exercise, and start listing out the words that the character would say, often with surprising results.
This exercise is both about voice because you are thinking about the specific vocabulary of the character, but also about letting yourself go and seeing where you characters will take you.
The exercise: Using a current work in progress, take three or four of your characters and create Word Hoards for them.
moist befuddled squeaky For all that I love words and word play, that's all I can think of. I'm going to take it, and add more as I think of more. This will be a work in progress.