Sunday Shape Up: Oval

June 22, 2014  Prompt #51

eggs

For this week’s Sunday Shape-Up, we will carefully press a circle into an oval and give it a spin.

Instructions

  1. Quick Tip: The word oval originates from the Latin ov or egg. Hence, oval means egg-shaped.
  2. For five minutes, jot down phrases and images that come to mind when you hear the word oval.
  3. Re-read what you’ve written and underline a phrase or sentence that stands out.
  4. Write that phrase on the top of a new sheet of paper.  Write for 15 minutes.

Further Writing

  • Running tracks are oval. Imagine you (or one of your characters) approach one at 6 a.m. on a spring morning. What happens next?  Include outward descriptions and inward thoughts. Write for 20 minutes.
  • Oval Office.
    • Get inside the head of a U.S. president. Imagine what he thinks about when he is alone in the Oval.
    • Write about your favorite fictional U.S. president.

Variation for Writing Groups

Eggs

  1. Bring two eggs (raw, boiled or both) to writing group. Pass them around (gently). Feel the weight of them in your hand. If you are at someone’s home, try cracking one open or peeling one.
  2. Next, for 10 minutes, write down all your associations with eggs.
  3. Read your work out loud.
  4. The person to your left chooses one word or phrase they find inspiring from your writing and uses it as their prompt.
  5. Continue around the circle until everyone has a key word for their prompt.
  6. If you have more than 4 people in your group, pair or triple up to share work and choose a prompt word.

Ovaltine

  1. Stir up a glass of Ovaltine.
  2. Sip and write. Sip and write.

 

Picture {Postcard} Perfect

June 19, 2014.  Prompt #49

denver2Today’s prompt may take you to places unknown.

Have a marvelous journey.

 

 

Instructions

  1. Do you have a collection of old travel postcards?  If so, choose one for this prompt.
  2. If not, in Google image, Flickr, or another image search, type “travel postcards.” Choose a postcard image from it.
  3. Write down thoughts and sensations inspired by the postcard. Write for 10 minutes.
  4. Rewrite your last line on the top of a new page. Write for 15 minutes.

Further Writing

  • Postcards are known for limited space.  Write a haiku elicited by the postcard.
  • Imagine you sent this postcard. What would you have written on the back? Who would you have sent it to? What would you have told them to console them, to lure them, or to make them jealous?

Variations for Writing Groups

  1. Postcards often offer a candy-coated version of what they depict. Write a short prose piece (200 words or less) either building on this lie or debunking it. Start the piece with three adjectives in a row.
  2. Bring a postcard to your group and have everyone write a poem or short prose piece based on it. Write for 10 minutes.
  3. Share your work. Do common themes emerge?
  4. Repeat the prompt with another postcard.

Next Week

Two of next week’s prompts will focus on editing and revision.  To prepare, find a story, poem, or essay to revisit.  You can use a rough draft or a polished piece with which you are willing to experiment.

 

By The Sea

June 17, 2014.  Prompt #47

DSCN0600

I’ve been steadily editing a novel of mine that takes place at a beach. Even while I am typing away here in landlocked Colorado, much of my brain has relocated to a Jersey Shore beach town circa 1993.

For today’s prompt, therefore, we’ll work with words associated with oceans, bays, beaches and shorelines. May a wave of creativity wash over you.

(For those of you who have been reading this blog closely, you’ll see this is a variation on the post “Plant.”)

 

Instructions

  1. Choose nine words from this list: bay, beach, boat, bob, breakers, bright, brisk, dive, dolphin, dunes, fish, foot prints, kite, life guard, nap, salt, sand, shell, shore, swim, tan, tide, umbrella, wave.
  2. Using the nine words and others of your own, write a nine line poem.
  3. Write for 9 minutes.

Further Writing

  • Use the same nine words and write a piece that has nothing to do with beaches. Write for 15 minutes.
  • Choose one of the verbs from the list and use it in a poem or piece of short prose nine times. Vary it at least three times, using different forms of the verb.  For instance, if you choose dive, try using also using dives, diving, dove, or diver. Write for 15 minutes.

Variation for Writing Groups

  1. Choose one or two words from the list which are both noun and verb. Play with those combinations in a short piece. This is a chance to use repetition in a deliberate way. Write for 15 minutes.
  2. Choose words from the lists that have more than one definition, such as wave, bob, shell, or tan. Write a piece that makes use of their multiple meanings.
  3. Read your writing out loud. What do you notice about its rhythm and pacing?

Next Week

Two of next week’s prompts will focus on editing and revision.  To prepare, find a story, poem, or essay to revisit.  You can use a rough draft or a polished piece with which you are willing to experiment.

 

Sunday Shape Up: Oval

June 22, 2014  Prompt #51

eggs

For this week’s Sunday Shape-Up, we will carefully press a circle into an oval and give it a spin.

Instructions

  1. Quick Tip: The word oval originates from the Latin ov or egg. Hence, oval means egg-shaped.
  2. For five minutes, jot down phrases and images that come to mind when you hear the word oval.
  3. Re-read what you’ve written and underline a phrase or sentence that stands out.
  4. Write that phrase on the top of a new sheet of paper.  Write for 15 minutes.

Further Writing

  • Running tracks are oval. Imagine you (or one of your characters) approach one at 6 a.m. on a spring morning. What happens next?  Include outward descriptions and inward thoughts. Write for 20 minutes.
  • Oval Office.
    • Get inside the head of a U.S. president. Imagine what he thinks about when he is alone in the Oval.
    • Write about your favorite fictional U.S. president.

Variation for Writing Groups

Eggs

  1. Bring two eggs (raw, boiled or both) to writing group. Pass them around (gently). Feel the weight of them in your hand. If you are at someone’s home, try cracking one open or peeling one.
  2. Next, for 10 minutes, write down all your associations with eggs.
  3. Read your work out loud.
  4. The person to your left chooses one word or phrase they find inspiring from your writing and uses it as their prompt.
  5. Continue around the circle until everyone has a key word for their prompt.
  6. If you have more than 4 people in your group, pair or triple up to share work and choose a prompt word.

Ovaltine

  1. Stir up a glass of Ovaltine.
  2. Sip and write. Sip and write.

 

De-Construction

June 12, 2014.  Prompt #43

photo

photo

 

 

 

 

 

Walking with friends along Pearl Street tonight, we came across the demolition of the Daily Camera building, a structure that housed our local newspaper for decades. (It moved east of downtown several years ago.)

For today’s prompt (somewhat the philosophical opposite of yesterday’s prompt) we’ll work with words associated with destruction, rubble, and, perhaps, transformation

Instructions

  1. Choose nine words from this list: wreck, boom, brick, clear, concrete, dust, empty, engine, expose, fence, hard hat, haul, lot, reduce, rubble, shatter, torn, truck, watch, wreck, zone.
  2. Using the nine words and others of your own, write a nine line poem.
  3. Write for 9 minutes.

Further Writing

  • Write about something physical that is gone from your life. Tie it in, perhaps, with an emotional state.
  • Write about an old man or young girl watching a building being torn down. Describe their thoughts, conversations, or reactions. Include descriptions on sounds and the physical atmosphere.

Variation for Writing Groups

  1. Choose one or two of the words from the list which are both noun and verb. Play with those combinations in a short piece. This is a chance to use repetition in a deliberate way. Write for 15 minutes.
  2. Visit a wrecking site. Take notes.  Using your imagination, write about the construction of the building currently being torn down.

 

Plant

June 11, 2014.  Prompt #42

garden bed

For the last six weeks I’ve been working on my flower bed, vegetable garden, and planters. Spring gardening is annual ritual that is sometimes hectic as I work to get soil turned and amended, seeds and seedlings planted, and everything watered in between bouts of rain and sometimes snow. Mostly, though, it is just plain joyous to get my hands in the soil and start the starts off on their new lives.

For today’s prompt, we’ll work with words associated with plants and planting. May your writing bud and blossom!

Instructions

  1. Choose nine words from this list: bed, beet, bloom, bury, dig, dry, fruit, iris, leaf, peas, pepper, pollen, rain, rock, root, seed, soil, sow, sprout, squash, stem, sun, trim, turn, water, weed, wilt.
  2. Using the nine words and others of your own, write a nine line poem.
  3. Write for 9 minutes.

Further Writing

  • Use the same nine words and write a piece that has nothing to do with gardening. Write for 15 minutes.
  • Choose one of the verbs from the list and use it in a poem or piece of short prose nine times. Vary it at least three times, using different forms of the verb.  For instance, if you choose dig, try using also using digs, digging, dug, or digger. Write for 15 minutes.

Variation for Writing Groups

  1. Choose one or two of the words from the list which are both noun and verb. Play with those combinations in a short piece. This is a chance to use repetition in a deliberate way. Write for 15 minutes.
  2. Choose words from the lists that have more than one definition, such as bed, pepper, or iris. Write a piece that makes use of their multiple meanings.
  3. Read your writing out loud. What do you notice about its rhythm and pacing?

 

Breaking News

telegramJune 9, 2014.  Prompt #40

I just finished binge watching marathon viewing four seasons of Downtown Abbey. The very first episode opens with a close-up of a telegraph in motion, complete with taps and beeps as the operator sends a message. The telegraph not only grounds the story in history (in this case, 1912) but also conveys the urgency of the news being sent.

Instructions

  1. Write a piece that begins with the delivery of news.
  2. Start with an object of communication, for instance, a television, computer, or newspaper. You could choose a newer form of communication, such as an email, text, or Skype call, or one from the past—a telegram, letter on the Pony Express, or a phone call on a party line.
  3. Next, choose a message to be delivered. What does the message say? Who sends it? Who receives it? Who announces it? Who hears it?
  4. What happens next?

Further Writing

  • If you wrote about bad news, write a second version with good news or ambiguous news. If you wrote about good news, try making it disturbing or unclear. What is the effect on the tension, tone, or pacing of your piece?
  • Slow down the action. Record in detail the moment that the news is received. Describe in detail in the surroundings, the sounds, the smells and the textures.

Variation for Writing Groups

  1. On an index card, write two messages in the style of a telegram: clear and concise.
  2. Place the cards in the middle of the table. Either deliberately or at random, choose one and write in response to it. Write for 20 minutes.