A few years ago, a bookseller at Boswell Book Company told me about The Fruit Bowl Project: 50 ways to tell a story by Sarah Durkee. In this novel, rock superstar Nick Thompson visits an eighth-grade writing class to talk about writing. Here’s what Nick tells the class about writing:
My theory is that for a writer, every song, or every story, that they sit down to write is just like a bowl of fruit that a painter sets out to paint. And every bowl of fruit is different. Then comes the good part. How many ways do you think there are to paint a simple bowl of fruit? (p. 11)
The class creates their own “fruit bowl” — a scene that the students will all write about. Each student tells the story in a unique way. Brilliant! When I get stuck, writing a scene in a different format or from a different point of view can help me find the core of the scene or idea. Before I know it, I am unstuck and moving forward in my own voice.
Here’s your assignment. Take a scene from your work in progress, an idea you need to communicate, or a story from your life, and write it in three different formats or from three different points of view. Here are some formats to work with (some of these come from my imagination, others are from the book The Fruit Bowl Project):
Your turn. What formats do you like to use when you are playing with words?