In my workshops I like to focus on introspective study. The exercise, Fiction, is a sampling of this approach, and may also be used by those who are not aspiring screenwriters (as mentioned in the title - not exclusive for screenwriters).
Fiction is one of my favorite exercises, in which our character runs itself through a sophisticated washing machine, while having full control over the machine’s settings: the spinning speed, drum rotation, water consumption, detergent amount. In addition, it has the capability to launder emotions, cleanse feelings, and of course, soften them.
Before the character activates its laundering cycle, it contemplates and ponders, as needed. It can add background music. It has full control to end the cycle, at any moment.
This can be a washing machine in a self-service laundromat, a consumer machine, a device in a communal laundry facility, one in a hotel, it can even be a portable machine, or a wandering washer ("The Chronicles of the Wandering Washer"), a cute idea for a film.
Execution of this exercise is best when you're alone, in quiet and comfortable surroundings. It's recommended to read the material twice before beginning.
1. Quiet your mind and think only of the character (you may close your eyes). Feel the load being tossed into the washer. Focus your mind on each garment, who it belongs to. Which memories and feelings emerge?
2. With your eyes shut, imagine touching the fabric and feeling its texture. What kind of material is it? How does the garment make you feel? What is its scent?
3. What music is playing in the background? Does the music change during laundering? If so, why?
*Write down your answers (300 - 500 words).