I am posting a few exercises I did in an on-line writing class some years ago. They are such fun to do and a great way to practice writing when the inspiration for more serious work-in-progress needs a boost.
1: OBSERVATION AND DESCRIPTION:
“BARE DEAD BROWN YARD WHEN SNOW MELTS AWAY”
Well, it happened again.
Weather turned warmer, snow melted. Today is only February 25.
I feel disoriented.
A blanket of white should cover last fall’s detritus;
Sparkling mounds and humps and bumps would sculpt my yard into a cotton-batten bed
Anchored by clumps of dried cone flowers and sumac stalks in muted shades of orange and gold;
There should be a pristine landscape outside my windows.
Instead, a disheveled deadness greets my eye
Dun-drab leaves, matted chloroanemic ground-cover,
Ashen soil pock-marked with fallen acorns,
Patches of dingy flaccid snow-slush dribble down the drain
My yard is an eyesore that cannot be camouflaged by a colorful quilt as if it were an unmade bed.
But beauty can be found even in death
The camera frames a sleeping sepia-toned grove gilded by sunbeams cast down from a blue flannel sky.
Mother Earth in a tattered nighty is exposed beneath her misplaced blanket of snow.
A myriad of botanical trophies, withered and mummified by winter freeze,
Await the scavenger-artist to claim them.
2: FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE
The following exercise was done using a “word basket” and combining random combinations of verbs and nouns. It is one of my favorite writing exercises.
~The wounded deer’s death meanders across the snow like red icing dribbled on a white cake~
~Elk horns harp through a valley of sharp stones~
~My memory of her is framed by a rainbow~
~Icicles droop on the wire like angel wings frozen in sorrow~
~Mercury drowns in its own reflection~
~Neptune’s eyes gaze up from the aquamarine glass sea~
~Morning rises like marmalade roses blooming through the mist~
~Cottonwood trees argue with the whirling wind~
~Tulips, broken by a storm’s sharp talons, are gobbled by the hungry night~
~Cows sleep like hefty ships at port~
~Mystery drives the train like a magician’s wand cast across the plains~
~Daredevil gypsy spirit rides the carnival wheel of love~
~Detours haunt the calendar of my life where plans failed to materialize~
~The arms of daisies flutter, throwing kisses to the sky~
~A choir of crows chant their evensong from autumn’s woodland chapel~
~A minstrel’s flute brushed the air like the feathers of a robin settling in its nest~
3: DESCRIPTION USING ANIMISM OR PERSONIFICATION
Memory treads through our subconscious like a sleuth ransacking a forsaken garret for cues to give meaning to our being. Its flashlight beam darts over the terrain of our experience, highlighting nooks of reminiscences, sacks of souvenirs, crannies of keepsakes. Back-tracking, it hovers over discarded passions, abandoned romances, neglected talents. Turning them over, it reveals the rotted undersides of old hopes and dreams. Picking from among relics of remembrances, it selects trophies to enhance our present possibilities.
Moving on, Memory leaves cobwebs of forgotten fancies dangling among shards of cherished reflections from our youth. Emotional ticks of our younger days, caught like moths in a spider’s snare, are gathered into Memory’s field-kit for further examination. Stealthily slipping through cracks in locked trunks of our heritage, the arm of Memory reaches into depths of racial, ethnic, tribal and clannish lore, drawing forth superstition, prejudice, hidebound intolerance and irrational fear. These Memory holds up to the light of a harsh reality, revealing stains on the fabric of our soul which may now be washed away.
4: SENSORY PERCEPTION & DETAIL
SOFT: fat stomach, fluffy kitten, down quilt, whisper, tickle of whiskers, paw pads, bread dough, pillow
SCRATCHY: pin cushion, cat’s claws, kitten’s tongue-licks, snoring, old phonograph record, sharp pebbles
ROUND: bowl, swirling galaxies, full moon, balls of yarn, circling birds, round-dance
Soft round stomach of old woman offers cushy pillow for fluffy kitten to lie upon while napping. Bowl of bread dough, kneaded and rising in warm kitchen waft tickles of tasty memory into snoring noses. Tiny claws poke through quilted bathrobe, pin-cushioning wrinkled skin. Swirling purrs whisper a dreamland serenade: balls of yarn chased around a full moon amidst galaxies of circling birds. Raspy croak of old phonograph re-plays a long-gone round-dance. Muffled cry falls like sharp pebbles on a beach. Suddenly a scratchy pink tongue licks a tear-salted cheek and both dreamers wake.