Are there any useful exercises you could give to a writer who’s trying to improve their technique? I’ve heard the one about four different people describing the same place, but I was wondering if you had any other good ones.
Try to describe an extended scene, with various things happening, four different times, once with a focus on visuals, once on scents, once using touch, once using sounds. See if you can evoke a different feel each time, using the same scene but different senses.
Practice both discovery writing and outline writing. Meaning, practice writing stories where you just go off on whatever strikes you, and practice writing a story where you spend a lot of time on an outline. Try to figure out which method works best for you when trying a specific type of story, and perhaps try some hybrids. Anything that helps you write better stories more regularly is a tool to keep practicing.
Try a dialogue scene, where you try to evoke character and setting using ONLY dialogue. No descriptions allowed. (This is best when you’re focused on making the characters each distinct simply through how they talk.)
Finally, listen to the Writing Excuses podcast. We provide a writing prompt or exercise at the end of each episode.