Writing is an avenue of self-discovery. Often times, personal unearthing talks through the pen, and we aren’t even aware until we read what we’ve written. Try writing a few paragraphs about your favorite place to write and the length of time that usually works for you. You might learn new information about your writing process.
Smell is the first sense we are aware of and the last sense we may lose. Smell is attached to memory, a whiff of a familiar scent may instantly bring up a memory from your childhood for instance. Write about smells from your childhood—list five you remember well, then choose one to explore. What associations do you have with that smell? Such as early morning aromas from the kitchen, certain holidays as you walked into a room, smells from a farm, summer cut hay, cough syrup? What other emotional memory goes along with it?
The prompt for your writers’ group for September 8th is to write a piece that anthropomorphizes Time. Give Time a persona and let Time tell a tale. Time can write a poem. Time can narrate a piece of memoir. Time can tell on itself in an essay or reveal a story. It can be forward-looking or explore the past. Is it always truth-telling or can Time deceive? Is Time witty or severe? The novel, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is written from the point of view of Death, an omniscient observer of events. Time can do the same.
Sally, Jackie, and I will write to this prompt also and post next week. I will post my take on Monday, Sally on Wednesday, and Jackie on Friday. Part of the fun of a writers’ group is to see the different directions in which a single prompt can lead. I hope you enjoy this creative nudge.
In our book, Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets, we have an index of prompts that inspired and challenged us through the years.
“A red pony colt was looking at him out of the box stall. Its tense ears were forward and a light of disobedience was in its eyes. Jody’s throat collapsed in on itself, and cut his breath short.”
John Steinbeck published The Red Pony in 1937. Start with the last sentence of the paragraph above and tell us why Jody’s throat collapsed in on itself, as Steinbeck writes. Was Jody surprised, scared, shocked, excited? See where your imagination takes you.
I love sensory details: smell, sound, sight, touch, taste, and yes, a 6th, extrasensory perception/intuition. Use as many of these as you like to write a short story…one page or less.
You are walking on a beach and see this little girl. As you get closer, she looks up and asks you to write her name in the sand. What does her little voice sound like? What is her name, and what do you do? Do you have a conversation? What are the sounds and smells around you?
Write a conversation with two meanings, an expressed one in which your characters talk about a certain topic or event but with an underlying implied meaning. Use something from your own experience or a snippet of something you may have overheard at a restaurant. An example of this is in Chapter 2 of our book Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets. The story is called Things Taken.
First person gives your story a strong voice. With first person, the readers think and feel right along with the narrator. Here’s the prompt: Begin a story in which the first-person narrator is at work. They will use jargon or slang to describe what they’re doing. Don’t use too much though, a little goes a long way.
Think of a small area you know well but usually don’t think about — a hall closet, an empty lot, the garage where you park your car, inside of a drawer… Write three paragraphs of praise for this place and the particulars about it. Don’t worry if it seems silly and farfetched. Just let yourself find details to praise.
Write a “How to” from the second person point of view. Instead of first person “I”, talk to the reader and use “you”. Bring the reader into the story. It can be an essay, a story, or a poem. Give an explanation of something as if the reader was part of the conversation. An example of second person point of view is in Jay McInerney’s novel Bright Lights, Big City about a young man struggling with reality.
On a lighter note read page 65 of Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets to see how I wrote a humorous short short story of How to Bake Bread. Please feel free to share your creation with us. We would love to be part of your writers’ group.