Creative Writing Exercises #5:
Home for the Holidays

Creative writing exercises are meant to give you motivation and inspiration to come up with new and interesting ideas for your stories. One of the best ways to do this is to think up a completely different perspective to write from and see what comes of it. As we all hunker down with our families for Thanksgiving, I figured an exercise that focuses on these major holiday occasions would be a hit. Holidays are often about gifts, food and family. As a writer, I like to use them for creating characters as well.

Creative Writing Exercises #5: Home for the Holidays

Thanksgiving and Christmas are fantastic sources of inspiration for writing. After all, holiday movies that feature a November or December motif like Home Alone and Planes, Trains and Automobiles have been watched year in and year out for decades. People love these stories because of the involvement of family. They relate to the wild and crazy Uncle or the bratty cousin because they've seen all these types before, in their own homes.

Of all the creative writing exercises on the list, I think this one will hit home with most of you. Make a list of as many relatives as you can think of who attend your Thanksgiving or Christmas festivities. Include all of the in-laws, cousins and friends. Then, think of some of the wildest memories you have of those holiday events, such as the time grandpa's pants caught on fire or that time the turkey exploded. Pick three of your relatives that you think would make the most interesting characters on page. Then take the three events that are the most vivid in your mind.

Start the exercise by writing a short version of the first event from your own perspective. Include as much detail as possible, but also make sure to include as much of your own philosophy and your own opinions. Next, re-write the story from the perspective of one of those relatives. This is why you included your own point of view as heavily as possible, because this relatively obviously has a different set of beliefs and context than you do. Repeat the same process with all of the relatives you've chosen, then move onto the second and third memory.

This exercise can be extremely helpful if you create characters that tend to sound the same. Writing the same event from multiple perspectives can help you to understand that different characters tend to react differently to the same event. Learning how to write a character's philosophy will help you to make sure that your character are diverse and interesting.

As a bonus, as you sit down to your Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, think about how these different relatives are experiencing the current holiday. How are they reacting differently to things that you like or dislike? 

Done with Home for the Holidays? Go back to Creative Writing Exercises. 

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Written by Bryan Cohen

Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on and Facebook.
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