Lifting stories off a floor plan

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Here’s an exercise designed to get a writer thinking about history, daring prose and point of view. Draw out the floor plan for a house in your life. Simple, not complex drawing, but include every room you can recall.

Now that you have your floor plan, take 20 minutes to write a story about an event that took place in that house. Positive, negative, scary, surprising. Something significant that happened in that floor plan.

Write the story from the point of view of the house. Let the house speak as if it knows what’s happening only from what it can hear the occupants say, or see what they do.

If this is a house from your childhood, so much the better. The writing has a chance to be more daring, truthful. Don’t worry about what your parents or your siblings will say about your writing. Everything that has happened in your life is your story to tell. Your version is just as truthful as anyone else’s.

In the safe environment we create in The Writer’s Workshop, following the AWA methods, you can push down into the deepest part of your memories, the writing that is not therapy, but theraputic. It can begin with a sketch of a building, one that has stories to tell over many years. The exercise is a way of making the old adage come alive: If these walls could talk…

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