Living Inside Your Book

Writing exercise from our writing dinner – Living Inside My Book – 2 November 2011

Use life experiences to make your characters three dimensional. If you use your emotions and your reactions to settings, usually though the senses, you can make your characters more believable.

Writing exercise: Remember your first day at work.

  1. How old are you?
  2. What is the date?
  3. Where are you?
  4. What is your job description?
  5. What is your favourite song?
  6. Who is the love of your life?

Now close your eyes. Fill in the following:

I see
I smell
I hear
I taste
I touch
I am wearing
The weather outside is
I am with
I feel

Our first impressions are always based on our senses. You need to use these senses in your writing to show your setting. You need to add small details. If you were to write a scene in the above setting, you need to include at least two powerful sensory details that make the setting come alive for the reader.

  1. Now, pick a random character.
  2. Give him / her a name.
  3. Place this person in your shoes.
  4. Use your senses, your emotions and your setting to describe his / her first day at work.
  5. Start with these words: Sam looked around the office. Could she work here for the next two years? The smell of …

Our Guest: James Hendry, author of A Year in the Wild, used his life experience to write his novel

From Essentially: James Hendry (Interview)

Why did you choose to write this particular book?

I had so many stories from working in the bush for 10 years. The people I worked with inspired me to write the book. The people I met and their stories needed an outlet somewhere.

What was the hardest part about writing this book?

I loved it. The challenge was to keep a plotline going instead of merely having a collection of anecdotes. The structure of the story – with the brothers emailing their sister their stories helped sort this out.

About the book…

Angus and Hugh MacNaughton are brothers. They dislike each other … A lot. In an attempt to forge a brotherly bond between the two, Mr and Mrs MacNaughton secure them jobs at an exclusive five-star game lodge. Angus is the bitterly sarcastic game ranger and Hugh is the over-eager lodge manager.

A Year in the Wild tells the cringe-worthy and hilarious tales of Angus and Hugh in the form of weekly emails to their sister Julia. Their experiences include encounters with guests (often rich, over-demanding and adulterous), animals (mostly normal), and bush lodge staff (often crazy).

Read our review – A Year In The Wild

More photos from this event.


Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write – Write to communicate

Posted on: 3rd November 2011