Paint Chip Poetry

May 9, 2014  Prompt #8


paint chips Preparation  For today’s prompt, we’ll use the paint chips mentioned in the May 4th blog entry. If you haven’t already procured paint chips, try this prompt once you’ve gotten them or cut up three of more squares of different colors from magazines or catalogs.While paint chip hunting, try to find paint chips with interesting names (such as Lost Lake Blue or Summer Time Yellow). Choose 3 or 4 samples and take them home.

Instructions I’ve used this exercise many times in my writing classes. It’s usually a big hit with elementary school kids who often write startling profound stories about their colors. If you have children or other young people in your life, try it with them.

  1. From your paint chips, choose a color that particularly attracts or repels you.
  2. Looking at your color,  answer these questions.
  • If this color was a verb, what would it be?
  • If this color was an emotion, what would it be?
  • If this color was a person or an animal, who or what would it be?

For instance, if your color is Sea Green, you might write “wander,” “bored” and “mermaid” (which technically is neither a person or animal, but you have creative license.).

3. Write a sentence using your three words, such as “Sea Green is a bored mermaid, wandering the ocean in search of something new.”
4. Use that sentence as an opening line for a poem or story.  The style of writing is up to you.  Write for ten minutes.

How This Prompt Can Strengthen Your Writing

  • Encourages you to link the visual with written language.
  • Helps you make connections between seemingly unrelated concepts (color, verbs, emotions, animals.)

Further Writing

  1. Focus on just one of the questions above. For instance, if  Sea Green conjures wandering, write for ten minutes about wandering.
  2. Choose a second color and repeat the steps above.
  3. Choose the same color, then choose a new verb, emotion, and person or animal.

Variations for Writing Groups

  1. Ask everyone in the group to bring in two or more paint chips. Put them in the middle of your table. Everyone chooses one for the exercise.
  2. Ask everyone write about the same color. Afterwards, read your writing aloud. Listen for differences and overlaps. What surprised you?

Looking ahead:  Hold on to your paint chips. We’ll use them again in the weeks to come.





One thought on “Paint Chip Poetry

  1. Dear Ellen. I had a friend who snapped a phone-photo of a Cthulu-type ghost that slithered through his apartment. I got a look a the photo before he deleted it. It had two black eyes without pupils and it was also black, and had tentacles spreading out from below its jaw, and a ridge on its head. I couldn’t get it out of my mind until I drew a picture, and then I felt much better about it. No kidding. How could I ever write about it if it’s gone?

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