Posts Tagged ‘Writing Exercises’

Talking Wordles Here

August 7, 2012 5 comments

Wordle (Photo credit: Oompoo)

I decided to do something different today for a short post. I’ve been writing for submissions today and this is a little poem that I did for the site The Sunday Wordle.

For those who don’t know what a wordle is, here’s how it goes. Choose a group of related/unrelated words–from seven to ten of them–and then write a poem using those words. If you’re not a poem kind of person, write a piece of fiction/non-fiction of no more than 100 words using all of the given words.

Think of this as a writing exercise that anyone can do. It doesn’t matter really how expert it sounds or how off-the-wall. It’s your wordle–make it what you want. One thing you’ll find with that this exercise forces your mind to shift gears and look at how you put things together and how you use language for the meaning you want to transmit.

Take a chance and have a whirl with a wordle. And when you think you’re ready, share it here or jump over to The Sunday Whirl and share there. Enjoy yourself. That’s the main purpose of it all.

Home’s Destination

A link to my port of call,

a deck on which to stand,

as I navigate foreign waters,

I store up scents and sights

to anchor me within time,

to sink into my marrow,

never to wake from this dream,

even as I pitch against the rail

of stern reminders of days gone

missing and lives gone stale of use.

© Claudette J. Young 2012

Write a Life Event Poem

April 19, 2012 4 comments
Title page from the second edition of A Memoir...

Title page from the second edition of A Memoir of Jane Austen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Memoir seems to be a hot genre at present. Everywhere I look I find courses on writing it, sites to encourage it, challenges that require it.

All writers use elements of memoir each time they sit down to a keyboard. The act of writing itself teems with memoir elements.

Today’s Poetic Asides prompt merely brought it out of the shadows and onto a broader page for viewing. Poetry rides in a horse called sensory memory. That horse’s saddles bags are filled with personal experiences, perceptions, life’s illusions, and emotive qualities. The poet’s spurs are used to guide, not goad her mount toward an end goal.

A life event is by definition a memory that has changed a person’s perspective, at the very least. It probably also changed the person’s life in some way. All of us have such experiences, and sooner or later, we write them out for others to see. The following poem is my offering for this prompt of “Write a Life Event Poem.” Enjoy.

Shattered Glass and Mental Mirrors

Fractured images greeted me

With wide-open eyes that day,

Leaving behind panic, dismay,

Never thoughts of revelry.

Beyond doctors and onto life,

I built myself a future,

Complete plan to fight any strife,

To cut losses and suture

Together paths for new learning

Canes, dogs, all necessary

For work within limits, churning

With needs that I not tarry.

Years passed, moving toward this place

I come to with verse’s words,

Telling tales of things done and faced

This group of kindest souls, this space.

© Claudette J. Young 2012

Whether You’re Warmed Up or Not

March 14, 2012 1 comment


Today’s entrée is a set of exercises meant to help the writer shift perspective and get those creative muscles flexed and toned.

These small forays into new territory will, hopefully, help you gain in your battle with daily wordsmithing. Are you ready? Here goes.

Circumvent the cliché. While Little Johnny can’t read, does that mean that Little Jill has educational challenges as well? If all of your eggs are in one basket, will they all break when that basket is dropped?

We live with hackneyed and cliché phrases every day. They speak to the simplistic and real metaphors of our lives. That’s the reason they still hang around our necks like a broad-winged bird descended from a pterodactyl.

Take each of the following adages/sayings/clichés and devise three ways of saying the same thing, with the same semantics. Make each new “saying” as fresh as possible.

  1. Rolling stones gather no moss.
  2. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
  3. The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.

Recast old characters in new roles. Most people can hear a line of dialogue or see one frame of a favorite movie and give you the name of the characters involved. Like favorite books, the stories that flow across a screen at the theaters make a place for themselves in our mental storage lockers, waiting for future review.

The following exercise is meant to help the writer change well-worn paths carved out by characters we know well and as an exploration of possibilities for such characters that wouldn’t otherwise be tackled.

  1. Most adults over the age of 35 will probably remember the character name “Maverick” as Tom Cruise’s character from Top Gun. The exercise is to recast this character as a “Cowboy,” complete with name. If it helps, picture TC when you’re putting together an action scene in the old/new west. Only one scene is necessary to write, but if a full story evolves from this exercise, so much the better.
  2. C. S. Lewis’s character of Lucy in “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” presents us with a sweet child of remarkable resolve and steel spine when faced with adversity. Yet her complex personality allows for uncommon loyalty, self-doubt, and approval-seeking behavior.

Recast Lucy’s character, complete with name, as an adult. Place her in a           romance where finding her soul mate and an unforeseen future is the goal           of the scene. This will be a toughy, I think.

Make your practice work for you. When you’ve completed your exercises, take a good look at them. Evaluate them as you would anything you’d written for possible publication. Do an edit if you feel the piece needs it. You have been writing, after all.

Once you feel that you’ve done all you could with these little teasers, look at each one as an editor would. Is there a spark present that could build into a good story, article, poem, essay, etc.? Could you pitch any of these ideas? Do you see anything in any of them that that you hadn’t expected; a depth or challenge that startles you?

If you can answer yet to any of the above questions, perhaps, you’ve stumbled onto a new story for expansion. Take advantage of that possibility. Practice in all forms always helps a writer.

Put the exercises away when you’ve finished with them. Don’t throw them out. They can be used at later for prompts or more practice.

Also, if you’d like to share your efforts here, please do so in a comment. I’d be interested to see what you come up with. I might even be persuaded to add my own in an additional post.

Most of all have fun with this. Yes, it’s a useful exercise, but it can be hilarious, too, if given the right treatment. See you all back here soon.

Writing for Definition and Enjoyment

February 29, 2012 4 comments


Writers are forever looking for material to use for a journal article or magazine, characters or plot fragments for stories, workable settings for novels that don’t require major research, and a niche to market their work.

During this past month’s blogging challenge, those writers who’ve managed to follow-through each day have also upped their A-game in material. Some of the challenged writers kept their posts closely related to those subjects that they’d already fostered on their blogs.

Others looked at the “relative” nature of their ordinarily chosen subjects, and either expanded on them or moved to relate them to additional topics that weren’t usually equated with them.

Either strategy was legitimate. Also, such strategies created new perspectives and approaches toward future writing projects. Any time a writer can pull that off is a good day.

Since I took the challenge literally, I came away with material for memoir, essays, poetry, stories, books, and the list goes on. The constant reliving of details and personal responses allowed me to find new characters that had stories to tell. Poetry flowed within each memory, whether as a retelling of it or simply as a visceral impression and emotional recapping of it.

It hadn’t occurred to me at the beginning of this assignment that I would have such a strong emotional reaction to those recollections from so long ago; recollections that were incomplete and, sometimes, beyond vague.

This learning experience has opened up areas of writing that I hadn’t seriously considered before. I might have toyed with an idea here and there, but I hadn’t pinned down those ideas with any certainty.

Suddenly, I was seeing plots, twists, character development and settings that had never occurred to me before. And if I wasn’t seeing fiction, the brain was in overdrive about poetry or non-fiction pieces that could go to this market or that one.

Some days I felt like a voyeur as I took note of how I approached a subject differently than I would have two months before, and how my style shifted with each person I chose to write about. Some style elements remained fairly constant, while others wavered or developed new execution phases.

Prior to this, I had only foggy understanding of how my style shifted and when. That’s cleared up for me now.

I finally set my future writing projects and knew what I would tackle in the months ahead. The projects haven’t changed, but how I handle them will change. I’ve already come to that conclusion.

This challenge has given me more than its creators could ever imagine. It gave me a closer look at myself and why I choose to write what I do and how. It gave me a clearer picture of what my future will look like and my place in it. And if gave me the ability to focus on one aspect of a project (each day’s post) to the exclusion of everything else around me for the time I was working on it.

All of these things have come from a simple writing challenge. In some ways it doesn’t matter what the prompt was. It could have been anything, as long as I could relate to it enough to accept the challenge and stay focused on it.

In other respects, because I chose to deal with personal family members and issues, I came away a winner, regardless of who finishes first or who writes the most, etc. I came away with intangible bits of myself that I didn’t know I was missing until now. I regained an ability to focus on one project at a time until it was complete. And I learned that I thoroughly enjoy writing in areas that I hadn’t concentrated on before.

I think that’s pretty good for one month of writing. Later tonight I’ll do one last post on this subject to finish out the month. I’m running a day behind right now. I’ll do one more post on family and how I define it and experience it.

Tomorrow my subject prompt will change. I look forward to seeing what it will be and I look forward to meeting new friends along this road of discovery called LIFE.