Body Parts, Inc.

May 5, 2014  Prompt #4

Today’s Prompt: Embodied


Here’s a simple but surprisingly powerful writing prompt. I first used it when I was leading writing workshops for GLBT high school students.


  1. Choose a body part from the word list below and match it with an adjective from the list below that.  Feel free to add your own body part or adjective too.
  2. Write both words on the top of a fresh page of paper.
  3. After looking at your phrase (such as “big ears,” “sturdy ankles,” thin hair,” or “powerful arms”), close your eyes and repeat the phrase out loud three times.
  4. Open your eyes and write for 10 minutes.

Body Parts   abs  ankle  arms  breast  butt   chest  cheeks crotch  calves ears  elbow  eyebrow  eyes  face  foot  fingers  gums   hair   hands   head  hips  junk  knee  lashes  leg  lip  mind  muscle  nose  nails neck  package  palm   shoulder  six-pack   skin  sole  stomach  teeth  thigh  tongue toes  waist

Body Adjectives   bad  big  blotchy  bony  built  butch  cow  crooked  curved  curly  cute  cut dark  dark  dull  fairy  fat  fierce femme  flabby  flat   fleshy   freakish   frizzy   generous   girly   good gross gums hair hairy hands hips hot knee knobby light   limp   loaded   mannish   patchy  powerful  pretty   puffy round  sexy shiny   short skinny  small  straight   strong  sturdy   tall   thick   thin   ugly   waifish   weak  wide wrinkled

How This Prompt Can Strengthen Your Writing

  1. It can give you insight into your own perceptions of your body, which is generally a useful thing.
  2. It can give you insight into a character’s perception of his, her, or hiz body—also a useful thing for character development.
  3. You might write on a topic you have not considered before—even though you live in your body all day.
  4. It offer the opportunity to go from the specific (such as an elbow or ear) to a large theme, such as fear and desire, overcoming shame, family lineage, and human connection.

Next Steps for More Writing

  • Read your piece out loud. Circle a sentence that was difficult to write and rewrite on the top of a new sheet of paper. Write in response to it for 10 or 20 minutes more.
  • Keep the same body part but choose a new adjective. Write in response to the new phrase.
  • Keep the same adjective part but choose a new body part. Write in response to the new phrase.

Tips and Variations for Writing Groups

  • At the end of the 10 minutes,  everyone rotates their body part word clockwise to create a new phrase. Write for ten more minutes.
  • If you feel comfortable, share your pieces. Listen for a phrase in the work of others that particularly troubles or puzzles you. Write it on the top of a new sheet of paper. Write for 10 more minutes.

Looking Ahead

For tomorrow’s prompt, you’ll need to find a domestic object to write about it. It could be range of things, for instance, a chair, a rug, a chess piece, a hat, book, hammer, button, ring, spool of thread, or box of fishing tackle. Choose what inspires you, but try to find something at least 20 years old. Even older is better!


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