PHOTO EXERCISE (NARRATIVE VOICE)

Select a photograph from the file of "solitary characters." (If you don't want to do photos, just skip directly down to Variation 4, below.) Any magazine photograph of one person will do. It usually helps if the person is looking in the direction of the camera, but this is not essential. Gaze at the photograph, and begin writing what it is the person/photo subject wants to say. Write from the mouth of the photo subject, whatever needs to be said, without thinking of a story, without organizing the narration in advance to be certain it makes sense. Just write and become the voice of the photo subject. After ten minutes, stop, unless you're cooking along, in which case, don't stop. Let it run as long as you keep the energy.

[Try each of variations 1 through 3, and go with the one that works best for you.]

Variation 1: Now that you know the photo subject, have him/her narrate the episode that was happening at or immediately prior to the taking of the photograph.

Variation 2: Have the photo subject recount a recent sad or happy or touching story about someone dear to him/her.

Variation 3: Have the photo subject recount a touching episode from a long long time ago. (If the subject is an adult, you can go back as far as you want to. If the subject happens to be a child, six months ago can be a long long time ago.)

Variation 4: Forget the photograph. Try variations 1 through 3 without one. Come up with a character in your mind. You might base the character upon your memory of a real person you know or have known. It might be a person you have encountered but never met. It might even be a character or an actor from the cinema or from television. You might create your character out of an amalgam of people.