Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Summer Writing Exercise Series #30: Title Mania with Benny


#30
For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which uses one of the following as its title. For a bonus challenge, try to use as many of the titles in your piece as you can manage organically.


Titles:

  1. Dark Clouds Quickly Approaching
  2. Ocelot
  3. Look No Hands
  4. In a Carmine Jacket
  5. With Woodwinds

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try Benny Goodman At Sala Kongresowa, Warsaw Poland 197




Monday, July 22, 2019

Summer Writing Exercise Series #29: 3x5x5 Wordbank 4


#29
For today's writing exercise you will pick one word from each of three groups and write a sentence that includes all of the words, feel free to change tense, pluralize etc. Repeat the process at least five (5) times using different combinations. Now write a piece of fiction or poetry that uses at least two (2) of those sentences. Try to use as many of the sentences as you can.


Word Bank 1:
  • Singular
  • Enamel
  • Grace
  • Grip
  • Welt
Wordbank 2:
  • Redeemable
  • Kept
  • Boor
  • Wallow
  • Swelter
Wordbank 3:
  • Examine
  • Hamper
  • Toss
  • Froth
  • Toothless

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try the album No Angel by Dido.



Sunday, July 21, 2019

Summer Writing Exercise Series #28: Three Things in Zimbabwe


#28
For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which contains the following three things. Nice and simple. If you're not intimately familiar with these things do a little reading and see if a piece of info sticks out.


  1. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
  2. Yellow Dye #5 (Tartrazine)
  3. A Slinky

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try the soundtrack to "The Theory of Everything".






Saturday, July 20, 2019

Summer Writing Exercise Series #27: Starting with Paint


#27
For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which begins with one of the following sentences.


Sentence 1: The paint would never have a chance to dry.

Sentence 2: The sound of an aerosol paint can rattling is well known to every beat cop.
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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this iconic underground hip hop album 2000 Fold by Styles of Beyond. I have many great memories of listening to this album when I first moved to San Diego and was riding the trolley and bus everyday for hours. Listening to indie hip hop and punk and reading tons of books. Good times.



Friday, July 19, 2019

Summer Writing Exercise Series #26: Title Mania with Spontaneous Inventions


#26
For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which uses one of the following as its title. For a bonus challenge, try to use as many of the titles in your piece as you can manage organically.


Titles:

  1. Of the Air
  2. Pillars Beneath
  3. Not Distracted But Disinterested
  4. Caduceus
  5. En Route to Salem Oregon, Existence Comes Undone Just a Tiny Bit

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this video of Bobby McFerrin's Spontaneous Inventions album.




Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Summer Writing Exercise Series #24: Rob Gonsalves at the Beach


#24
For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which is inspired by the following piece of art: Pursuit of Balance by the amazing surrealist Rob Gonsalves



Many options here from the converging scenes that Gonsalves is famous for. It can be focused on the scenery or the person viewing the scenery. You can write this from the perspective of the boy or someone viewing the scene, whether a random person, the young man as an older adult, a omniscient narrator, whatever you'd like. I adore Gonsalves' work and someday I'll own a print of my own.

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If you would like some music to write to, try Ani DiFranco's album "Not a Pretty Girl".





Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Summer Writing Exercise Series #23: Five Words with Tribe


#23
For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which contains the following five words. Nice and simple.


Words:

  1. Pager
  2. Train
  3. Drastic
  4. Gravy
  5. Flummox

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try one of my all-time favorite albums Low End Theory by A Tribe Called Quest.





Monday, July 15, 2019

Summer Writing Exercise Series #22: Starting with a Wig


#22
For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which begins with one of the following sentences.


Sentence 1: The borrowed wig scratched his ears.

Sentence 2: The wig wasn't intended to look realistic.
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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this mix of mellow music from Game of Thrones.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Summer Writing Exercise Series #21: Title Mania in Coruscant


#21
For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which uses one of the following as its title. For a bonus challenge, try to use as many of the titles in your piece as you can manage organically.


Titles:

  1. Cold Cold Cold
  2. Hack Jobs, Failures and Pompous Buffoons
  3. Self Portrait, In Memoriam
  4. Wading
  5. Bedlam

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try the background sounds try this simulated sci-fi apartment noise inspired by Star Wars Coruscant.



Saturday, July 13, 2019

Summer Writing Exercise Series #20: Erasing The Crystal Egg 3


#20
For today's exercise we have split paths for fiction and poetry, though I highly recommend that even fiction writers try the poetry exercise. For fiction, write a piece with a repetition of the dialog sentence "Five pounds is my price." For poetry do an erasure or black-out poem from the following selection of H.G. Wells' short story "The Crystal Egg". An Erasure/Blackout is really simple: you take the given text and remove many words to make it your own new piece. One way to go about the erasure that I like to do is to copy the text and paste it twice into your document before you start erasing or blacking out (in MS Word set the text background color to black), that way if you get further into the erasure and decide you want a somewhat different tone or direction, it's easy to go to the unaltered version and make the erasure/black-out piece smoother. Another tip is to look for recurring words, in this example Cave occurs many times and could be a good touchstone for your piece.


Erasure Selection:

from The Crystal Egg

Mr. Cave’s answers were wretched; he could only mumble weak assertions that he knew his own business best. They drove him from his half-eaten supper into the shop, to close it for the night, his ears aflame and tears of vexation behind his spectacles. Why had he left the crystal in the window so long? The folly of it! That was the trouble closest in his mind. For a time he could see no way of evading sale.

After supper his step-daughter and step-son smartened themselves up and went out and his wife retired upstairs to reflect upon the business aspects of the crystal, over a little sugar and lemon and so forth in hot water. Mr. Cave went into the shop, and stayed there until late, ostensibly to make ornamental rockeries for gold-fish cases, but really for a private purpose that will be better explained later. The next day Mrs. Cave found that the crystal had been removed from the window, and was lying behind some second-hand books on angling. She replaced it in a conspicuous position. But she did not argue further about it, as a nervous headache disinclined her from debate. Mr. Cave was always disinclined. The day passed disagreeably. Mr. Cave was, if anything, more absent-minded than usual, and uncommonly irritable withal. In the afternoon, when his wife was taking her customary sleep, he removed the crystal from the window again.

The next day Mr. Cave had to deliver a consignment of dog-fish at one of the hospital schools, where they were needed for dissection. In his absence Mrs. Cave’s mind reverted to the topic of the crystal, and the methods of expenditure suitable to a windfall of five pounds. She had already devised some very agreeable expedients, among others a dress of green silk for herself and a trip to Richmond, when a jangling of the front door bell summoned her into the shop. The customer was an examination coach who came to complain of the non-delivery of certain frogs asked for the previous day. Mrs. Cave did not approve of this particular branch of Mr. Cave’s business, and the gentleman, who had called in a somewhat aggressive mood, retired after a brief exchange of words — entirely civil, so far as he was concerned. Mrs. Cave’s eye then naturally turned to the window; for the sight of the crystal was an assurance of the five pounds and of her dreams. What was her surprise to find it gone!

She went to the place behind the locker on the counter, where she had discovered it the day before. It was not there; and she immediately began an eager search about the shop.

When Mr. Cave returned from his business with the dogfish, about a quarter to two in the afternoon, he found the shop in some confusion, and his wife, extremely exasperated and on her knees behind the counter, routing among his taxidermic material. Her face came up hot and angry over the counter, as the jangling bell announced his return, and she forthwith accused him of “hiding it.”

“Hid what?” asked Mr. Cave.

“The crystal!”

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this playlist of the Beastie Boys instrumental album The Mix-Up

Friday, July 12, 2019

Summer Writing Exercise Series #19: Five Words and a Toaster


#19
For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which contains the following five words. Nice and simple.


Words:

  1. Extra
  2. Frolic
  3. Tangle
  4. Tamp
  5. Credence

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this best of The Toasters album: In Retrospective.




Thursday, July 11, 2019

Summer Writing Exercise Series #18: 3x5x5 Wordbank 3


#18
For today's writing exercise you will pick one word from each of three groups and write a sentence that includes all of the words, feel free to change tense, pluralize etc. Repeat the process five (5) times using different combinations. Now write a piece of fiction or poetry that uses at least two (2) of those sentences. Try to use as many of the sentences as you can.


Word Bank 1:
  • Twin
  • Weaken
  • Falsify
  • Runt
  • Plus
Wordbank 2:
  • Weather
  • Keeper
  • Retina
  • Opine
  • Queasy
Wordbank 3:
  • Group
  • Lear
  • Flare
  • Smoke
  • Iridescent

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try the instrumental bonus tracks from the album Days to Come by Bonobo.


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Summer Writing Exercise Series #17: Ekphrastic gif

#17

For today, we're going to write a poem or prose piece inspired by another piece of art or an ekphrastic piece. The piece of art in question is this photo from Pulitzer Prize winning Reuters photographer Adrees Latif:





Whether you're writing a lyric poem about what the man or boy are thinking in this moment, the lead up story to this climactic event (who is the man and how did he get to that place and time of fording the river with so many others), or if this is the impetus for a greater story, a moment that is flashed back to by the child or father later in life. There's a ton of possibilities.

If you'd like background writing music here is indie hip hop producer Rjd2's first solo album Deadringer (2002).



Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Summer Writing Exercise Series #16: Erasing The Crystal Egg 2


#16
For today's exercise we have split paths for fiction and poetry, though I highly recommend that even fiction writers try the poetry exercise. For fiction, write a piece with a repetition of the dialog sentence "Five pounds is my price." For poetry do an erasure or black-out poem from the following selection of H.G. Wells' short story "The Crystal Egg". An Erasure/Blackout is really simple: you take the given text and remove many words to make it your own new piece. One way to go about the erasure that I like to do is to copy the text and paste it twice into your document before you start erasing or blacking out (in MS Word set the text background color to black), that way if you get further into the erasure and decide you want a somewhat different tone or direction, it's easy to go to the unaltered version and make the erasure/black-out piece smoother. Another tip is to look for recurring words, in this example Cave occurs many times and could be a good touchstone for your piece.


Erasure Selection:

from The Crystal Egg


The swarthy young man had so far remained a spectator, watching Cave keenly. Now he spoke. “Give him five pounds,” he said. The clergyman glanced at him to see if he were in earnest, and when he looked at Mr. Cave again, he saw that the latter’s face was white. “It’s a lot of money,” said the clergyman, and, diving into his pocket, began counting his resources. He had little more than thirty shillings, and he appealed to his companion, with whom he seemed to be on terms of considerable intimacy. This gave Mr. Cave an opportunity of collecting his thoughts, and he began to explain in an agitated manner that the crystal was not, as a matter of fact, entirely free for sale. His two customers were naturally surprised at this, and inquired why he had not thought of that before he began to bargain. Mr. Cave became confused, but he stuck to his story, that the crystal was not in the market that afternoon, that a probable purchaser of it had already appeared. The two, treating this as an attempt to raise the price still further, made as if they would leave the shop. But at this point the parlour door opened, and the owner of the dark fringe and the little eyes appeared.

She was a coarse-featured, corpulent woman, younger and very much larger than Mr. Cave; she walked heavily, and her face was flushed. “That crystal is for sale,” she said. “And five pounds is a good enough price for it. I can’t think what you’re about, Cave, not to take the gentleman’s offer!”

Mr. Cave, greatly perturbed by the irruption, looked angrily at her over the rims of his spectacles, and, without excessive assurance, asserted his right to manage his business in his own way. An altercation began. The two customers watched the scene with interest and some amusement, occasionally assisting Mrs. Cave with suggestions. Mr. Cave, hard driven, persisted in a confused and impossible story of an inquiry for the crystal that morning, and his agitation became painful. But he stuck to his point with extraordinary persistence. It was the young Oriental who ended this curious controversy. He proposed that they should call again in the course of two days — so as to give the alleged inquirer a fair chance. “And then we must insist,” said the clergyman. “Five pounds.” Mrs. Cave took it on herself to apologise for her husband, explaining that he was sometimes “a little odd,” and as the two customers left, the couple prepared for a free discussion of the incident in all its bearings.
Mrs. Cave talked to her husband with singular directness. The poor little man, quivering with emotion, muddled himself between his stories, maintaining on the one hand that he had another customer in view, and on the other asserting that the crystal was honestly worth ten guineas. “Why did you ask five pounds?” said his wife. “Do let me manage my business my own way!” said Mr. Cave.

Mr. Cave had living with him a step-daughter and a step-son, and at supper that night the transaction was re-discussed. None of them had a high opinion of Mr. Cave’s business methods, and this action seemed a culminating folly.

“It’s my opinion he’s refused that crystal before,” said the step-son, a loose-limbed lout of eighteen.

“But Five Pounds!” said the step-daughter, an argumentative young woman of six-and-twenty.

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this playlist of the soundtrack to the movie Gross Pointe Blank


Saturday, July 6, 2019

Summer Writing Exercise Series #15: Five Word Start


#15
For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which contains the following five words. Nice and simple.


Words:

  1. Worsen
  2. Endemic
  3. Trunk
  4. Adjourned
  5. Ratchet

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this 1983 recording of Stravinsky's The Firebird Suite by the London Symphony Orchestra.



Friday, July 5, 2019

Summer Writing Exercise Series #14: Title Mania with Cardinals


#14
For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which uses one of the following as its title. For a bonus challenge, try to use as many of the titles in your piece as you can manage organically.


Titles:

  1. Fallen From a Cloudless Sky
  2. Tripod, Wolf
  3. Atop Yet Another Mountain
  4. Whiffed
  5. Birdsong

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try the background sounds of 30 minutes of Northern Cardinal and woods sounds, you can feel like you're sitting alongside a forest path as you compose.


Thursday, June 20, 2019

Summer Writing Exercise Series #11: Micro 101 Episode 001


#11
For today's writing exercise you will write a few micro-poems or micro-fictions. These will be either poems under 12 lines or stories under 100 words.

For inspiration go read some micro or hint fiction in this Buzzfeed article, at Microfiction Monday32 Poems and Nanoism.

Micro Exercise 1: Describe one central action, and things that happened in the proximity simultaneously but which are unrelated.
Micro Exercise 2: Make a list of ten items which are yellow. Write a micro piece which uses at least seven of the items you listed.
Micro Exercise 3: Write a micro which uses the items not used in Micro #2, as well as a hole in the ground that is at least three feet deep.
Micro Exercise 4: Pick two interesting words from this Random Word Generator.
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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this waterfall and jungle ambiance video.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Summer Writing Exercise Series #13: 3x5x5 Wordbank 2


#13
For today's writing exercise you will pick one word from each of three groups and write a sentence that includes all of the words, feel free to change tense, pluralize etc. Repeat the process four times using different words. Now write a piece of fiction or poetry that uses at least two of those sentences (or the majority of them).


Word Bank 1:
  • Jerk
  • Remove
  • Swap
  • Prop
  • Icicle
Wordbank 2:
  • Keep
  • Knee
  • Whisk
  • Wisp
  • Quake
Wordbank 3:
  • Groove
  • Leap
  • Flake
  • Smirk
  • Fake

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this compilation of Spanish guitar music.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Summer Writing Exercise Series #10: Erasing The Crystal Egg 1


#10
For today's exercise we have split paths for fiction and poetry, though I highly recommend that even fiction writers try the poetry exercise. For fiction, write a piece with a repetition of the dialog sentence "Five pounds is my price." For poetry do an erasure or black-out poem from the following selection of H.G. Wells' short story "The Crystal Egg". An Erasure/Blackout is really simple: you take the given text and remove many words to make it your own new piece. One way to go about the erasure that I like to do is to copy the text and paste it twice into your document before you start erasing or blacking out (in MS Word set the text background color to black), that way if you get further into the erasure and decide you want a somewhat different tone or direction, it's easy to go to the unaltered version and make the erasure/black-out piece smoother. Another tip is to look for recurring words, in this example Cave occurs many times and could be a good touchstone for your piece.


Erasure Selection:

The Crystal Egg

There was, until a year ago, a little and very grimy-looking shop near Seven Dials, over which, in weather-worn yellow lettering, the name of “C. Cave, Naturalist and Dealer in Antiquities,” was inscribed. The contents of its window were curiously variegated. They comprised some elephant tusks and an imperfect set of chessmen, beads and weapons, a box of eyes, two skulls of tigers and one human, several moth-eaten stuffed monkeys (one holding a lamp), an old-fashioned cabinet, a fly-blown ostrich egg or so, some fishing-tackle, and an extraordinarily dirty, empty glass fish-tank. There was also, at the moment the story begins, a mass of crystal, worked into the shape of an egg and brilliantly polished. And at that two people who stood outside the window were looking, one of them a tall, thin clergyman, the other a black-bearded young man of dusky complexion and unobtrusive costume. The dusky young man spoke with eager gesticulation, and seemed anxious for his companion to purchase the article.

While they were there, Mr. Cave came into his shop, his beard still wagging with the bread and butter of his tea. When he saw these men and the object of their regard, his countenance fell. He glanced guiltily over his shoulder, and softly shut the door. He was a little old man, with pale face and peculiar watery blue eyes; his hair was a dirty grey, and he wore a shabby blue frock-coat, an ancient silk hat, and carpet slippers very much down at heel. He remained watching the two men as they talked. The clergyman went deep into his trouser pocket, examined a handful of money, and showed his teeth in an agreeable smile. Mr. Cave seemed still more depressed when they came into the shop.

The clergyman, without any ceremony, asked the price of the crystal egg. Mr. Cave glanced nervously towards the door leading into the parlour, and said five pounds. The clergyman protested that the price was high, to his companion as well as to Mr. Cave — it was, indeed, very much more than Mr. Cave had intended to ask when he had stocked the article — and an attempt at bargaining ensued. Mr. Cave stepped to the shop door, and held it open. “Five pounds is my price,” he said, as though he wished to save himself the trouble of unprofitable discussion. As he did so, the upper portion of a woman’s face appeared above the blind in the glass upper panel of the door leading into the parlour, and stared curiously at the two customers. “Five pounds is my price,” said Mr. Cave, with a quiver in his voice.

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this playlist of the Beastie Boys instrumental album The Mix-Up




Monday, June 10, 2019

Summer Writing Exercise Series #9: 3x5x5 Wordbank 1


#9
For today's writing exercise you will pick one word from each of three groups and write a sentence that includes all of the words, feel free to change tense, pluralize etc. Repeat the process four times using different words. Now write a piece of fiction or poetry that uses at least two of those sentences (or the majority of them).


Word Bank 1:

  • Escalate
  • Prove
  • Swamp
  • Ferret
  • Groom
Wordbank 2:

  • Rust
  • Error
  • Spike
  • Glove
  • Plate
Wordbank 3:

  • Peach
  • Spoon
  • Clump
  • Brisk
  • Inflate

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this lo-fi hip hop version of the soundtrack of Spirited Away by Joe Hisaishi.