Thursday, April 30, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 30, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: Title Mania!

About today's writing prompt genre: Instead of just using a random generator, for today's exercise I will offer up six titles. Pick the title that appeals the most to you and run with it. If you want to leave your choice up to chance use this random number generator. I will also have a small list of possible last words or phrases that you can use as an end-goal if you feel like you need a little extra direction/constraint for the piece.

Titles:

1) Obbligato
2) Milk Powder
3) Cleaning the Arena
4) Simple Calcification
5) Undanced
6) Smudged Too Much to Read

Words or phrases to end with:

1) Blackened
2) In Twilight
3) Overgrown
4) Mellifluously
5) Downsizing
6) Just a Pinch

Again, if you want to leave this to chance, use the random number generator.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 29, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: Wordbank.

For wordbank exercises take a few minutes to look through the following links which will have various lists of words. Pick out a dozen or so words that you like, whether you are drawn to them for their uniqueness, their sound, their meaning, whatever the reason, pick a bunch of words, at least 12. If any of the words' meanings are not crystal clear spend a little time both checking it out in the dictionary but also check through wikipedia for history of the word and its usage, if it's the name of a place or has some significance in the world aside from just its meaning. In your notebook take note of anything interesting that you come across. Be sure to look through all the related words and antonyms. You won't need to use all the words now, just some of them and it's good to have a pool to choose from.


Once you have your list, have done some research and have at least a half dozen notes try to following exercises.

1) Use three of the words in the same sentence. Then take those same words and use them in a new sentence but in the reverse order.
2) Use two of the words in a sentence that also includes the word "Dystopian."
3) Write two separate sentences that each use one word from the wordbank and the name of a city or neighborhood in the US that has a population density of at least 10,000 per square mile.
4) Use two of the words in a phrase or sentence fragment that is under six words.
5) Either use the phrase from #4 as a title and write either a poem or a piece of short prose to fit it, or the sentence from #2 as the first line of your poem or story. If you feel extra adventurous, use the name of the neighborhood or city from #4 in either the title or the last line/sentence.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 28, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: The How-To.

Today we'll work with the good old 'how-to' genre. Write a 'list poem' (or a regular poem) or a piece of prose that explains various ways or steps in how-to do something.




Today's how-to is...

How to conserve water.


With California facing one of its worst droughts in recorded history, this seemed an apt How To subject. Whether you find a way to incorporate actual conservation techniques or you get a little absurd (capture your own tears and sweat, sleep under a conical plastic form to reclaim lost moisture) or you look at places like the Atacama desert (or a desert island) and discuss finding water to avoid dehydration like their Fog Catchers. Maybe the conserving of water is merely the vessel to tell a larger narrative. However you approach it, have fun.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 27, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: Five Random Constraints.

About today's writing prompt genre: This is an exercise to make your brain work within a confined space. There will be a few constraints pressed upon your writing, some meant to help drive narrative, some meant to slow the process of the ever-flowing feed of words that stream through the mind. To make you meditate on specific word choice not necessarily at the most important plot places, but irregularly so that even connections can dictate concern and consideration at the word-level.

Today's constraints are...

1) The piece must be one block of text (no stanza or paragraph breaks).
2) You must include at least one long /E/ sound in each sentence.
3) At least two sentences/lines must begin with the word "Before".
4) You must include the names of two different cities.
5) Your title must be at least six words long.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 26, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: Title Mania!

About today's writing prompt genre: Instead of just using a random generator, for today's exercise I will offer up six titles. Pick the title that appeals the most to you and run with it. If you want to leave your choice up to chance use this random number generator. I will also have a small list of possible last words or phrases that you can use as an end-goal if you feel like you need a little extra direction/constraint for the piece.

Titles:

1) A Field of Mirrors
2) More Unfortunate Timing
3) Broken Mandolin
4) Crater Lake
5) Formulaic Enough to Pass
6) They Were Boys

Words or phrases to end with:

1) Purpose
2) No
3) In Disgust
4) Leaking
5) Forked
6) Lightning Striking

Again, if you want to leave this to chance, use the random number generator.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 25, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: Wordbank.

For wordbank exercises take a few minutes to look through the following links which will have various lists of words. Pick out a dozen or so you like, whether for their uniqueness, their sound, even just their meaning, whatever the reason, pick a bunch of words. If any of the words' meanings are not crystal clear spend a little time both checking it out in the dictionary but also check through wikipedia for history of the word and its usage, if it's a place or has some significance in the world aside from just its meaning. In your notebook take note of anything interesting that you come across. Be sure to look through all the related words and antonyms. You won't need to use all the words now, just some of them and it's good to have a pool to choose from.

Khumbu from Mountain.org
Once you have your list, have done some research and have at least a half dozen notes try to following exercises.

1) Use three of the words in the same sentence. Then take those same words and use them in a new sentence but in the reverse order.
2) Use two of the words in a sentence that describes a place you have never been. Here is a list of places you've probably never been. Here is another. Find a place you're interested in and do a couple minutes reading/searching about it then write.
3) Write two separate sentences that each use one word from the wordbank and the name of a US National Park (you don't have to include the words "National Park" in the sentence.
4) Use two of the words in a phrase or sentence fragment that is under six words.
5) Either use the phrase from #4 as a title and write either a poem or a piece of short prose to fit it, or the sentence from #2 as the first line of your poem or story. Or if you were captured by the park you researched for #3, use one of those sentences as the penultimate sentence or stanza.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 24, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: The How-To.

About today's writing prompt genre: Today we'll work with the good old 'how-to' genre. Write a 'list poem' (or a regular poem) or a piece of prose that explains various ways or steps in how-to do something.


Today's how-to is...

How to get through the day.


This could be as depressing as it sounds, or it could be a more playful piece, describing simple or mundane things as well as fanciful or surreal events. It all depends on how you feel at the moment. Is part of the day hopping over every crack in the sidewalk to avoid "breaking your momma's back" or preparing a healthy breakfast that you burn, resulting in getting coffee or McDonald's? Is part of getting through the day pulling yourself out of bed like scraping overcooked eggs from a pan, or do you leap out of bed like a jack in the box excited to brush your teeth? Plenty of ways to approach this, have fun with it.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 23, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: Title Mania!

About today's writing prompt genre: Instead of just using a random generator, for today's exercise I will offer up six titles. Pick the title that appeals the most to you and run with it. If you want to leave your choice up to chance use this random number generator. I will also have a small list of possible last words or phrases that you can use as an end-goal if you feel like you need a little extra direction/constraint for the piece.

Titles:

1) Tragedy at the Fair
2) Bluebird, Unscathed
3) This is Not the Right Time
4) Lake of the Woods
5) 2 a.m. in Budapest
6) No Warm-up

Words or phrases to end with:

1) Endless
2) Froth
3) Denial
4) Nocturne
5) Incidental
6) Adieu

Again, if you want to leave this to chance, use the random number generator.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 22, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: Ekphrasis.

About today's writing prompt genre: Ekphrasis is from Greek meaning the description of a work of art as a rhetorical device. That's actually pretty straight forward, but another way to look at it, is it's highfalutin fan fiction, usually about paintings or pieces of music, but it can be about virtually anything. Look at or listen to the following piece of art and write a piece of prose or poetry that is inspired by some aspect of it.


Today's artwork is...

The poem "The Lost Thing" by Stephen Dunn. This poem is from Dunn's collection Everything Else in the World, (as of now there are two used copies available for under ten cents) though the poem was first published in the Gettysburg Review and subsequently in The Common Line Journal online. I've long been a fan of Stephen Dunn's straightforward, usually short poems. As Poetry Foundation describes his work:

"Dunn’s poetry reflects the social, cultural, psychological, and philosophical territory of the American middle class; his intelligent, lyrical poems narrate the regular episodes of an everyman speaker’s growth... His poetry is concerned with the anxieties, fears, joys, and problems of how to co-exist in the world with all those who are part of our daily lives. "


The Lost Thing

The truth is
it never belonged to anybody.
It's not a music box or a locket;
it doesn't bear our initials.
It has none of the tragic glamour
of a lost child, won't be found
on any front page. It's like
the river that confuses
search dogs, like the promise
on the far side of the ellipsis.
Look for it in the margins,
is the conventional wisdom.
Look for it as late afternoon light
drips below the horizon.
But it's not to be seen.
Nor does it have a heart
or give off any signal.
It's as if . . . is how some of us
keep trying to reach it.
Once, long ago, I felt sure
I was in its vicinity.


--

Whether you are struck by the idea of that unnamed thing that cannot be found or quite recalled, a line from the poem (or perhaps you wish to take the title "The Lost Thing" as your own for a new piece), an image from the poem, or the melancholic tone of its ending, that feeling of once being so close to... to something ethereal, to something great, wonderful, life-changing... whatever it is that strikes you about this poem, run with it. We'll get back to non-poetry ekphrastic exercises once National Poetry Month is over, but for now, even if you're writing prose, just bear with me and read some sweet poems. :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 21, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: Narrative thread.

About today's writing prompt genre: Take the following story aspect and work it into a piece, whether poetry or prose, whether you explore what led up to this place in the story, it begins with the thread, or the thread is merely a tiny aspect of the story that has crystallized around the original image. However you choose to write it, use the following as a jumping off point.




Today's thread is...


The soda machine at work (or in an apartment complex/dorm) one day no longer has your favorite drink. Instead it is mysteriously replaced with a handwritten placard that reads only "Luck" and is priced at $20.


--

Whether this ends up being merely a scam, a monkeypaw scenario, a joke, or genuine luck dispensed somehow, is up to you. You decide if the luck is real, or perhaps no one ever even tries the option in your story or poem. However you choose to write it.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 20, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: Title Mania!

About today's writing prompt genre: Instead of just using a random title generator, for today's exercise I will offer up six titles. Pick the title that appeals the most to you and run with it. If you want to leave your choice still somewhat up to chance use this random number generator. I will also have a small list of possible last words or phrases that you can use as an end-goal if you feel like you need a little extra direction/constraint for the piece.

Titles:

1) Topping Beehives
2) Under the Town's Skin
3) Blame Roberto Clemente
4) When Combustion Fails
5) Crippling Affection

Words or phrases to end with:

1) Park
2) Green
3) Foreign
4) Coup de foudre (french phrase which means that lightning like striking of "Love at first sight")
5) Donations
6) Exalted

Again, if you want to leave this to chance, use the random number generator.

And finally, while April 20th means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, to me it will always be the day which I happened to propose to the lovely lady who would become my wife, so as an extra bonus exercise, it being National Poetry Month and all, I'll add as an Ekphrastic Exercise the poem that I wrote her for the occasion of asking her to marry me, which was subsequently published in The Briar Cliff Review, in their 2008 issue.

This may not sound romantic, for which I’m sorry
for Jessica

Where there is limestone bedrock,
water seeps meticulously through the dirt
and finds fine cracks where it can settle.
This allows the acidity it’d gathered
along the way, like wild azaleas,
to feast on the rock’s surface until
small caverns take shape.
Eventually, those caverns are deep enough
that the water’s trickling rubs away
tiny particles of rock and creates a cave.

Given time and exposure to the passage of
any force that can be felt on the fingertips
of the planet’s paper thin skin,
hollows are formed for lack of that anything
that once touched it, had once run its
finger ever so gently across its epidermis.
Craggy peaks are smoothed by the wind’s
soft whisper, stoic drips kiss caverns
out of solid rock, and lazy rivers
ride the prairie into grand canyons.

These sites of erosion don’t want
for the surface matter that has been
so carefully sloughed off like dead skin cells.
They have ultimately taken shape with touch,
and if anything, want for more.
They practically beg for it, as if to say
“What you’ve done to me is amazing,
and we’re just getting started.”


--

If the idea of erosion—don't forget Eros is how the word starts ;)—strikes something in your brain, of writing a love poem, of caves or geologic features, of the anti-love love poem, of whatever, write it! Or stick with the Title Mania exercise. Whatever gets you creating the best, do it.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 19, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: Ekphrasis.

Painting by Yary Dluhos
About today's writing prompt genre: Ekphrasis is from Greek meaning the description of a work of art as a rhetorical device. That's actually pretty straight forward, but another way to look at it, is it's highfalutin fan fiction, usually about paintings or pieces of music, but it can be about virtually anything. Look at or listen to the following piece of art and write a piece of prose or poetry that is inspired by some aspect of it.



Today's artwork is...


The poem "Boulevard Slick with Rain" by Jennifer Grotz. This poem is from Grotz' first collection Cusp (2003) which won the Bread Loaf Bakeless Prize, and is one of the few poems that wasn't originally published in a literary journal first but it was my favorite.


Boulevard Slick with Rain

In the blue light, each of us looks
        For a place we belong.
We don't know how far
        We'll have to walk to catch the metro.

Our shoes scrape against the sidewalk,
        Jan's hand squeezing mine. We fight
Over who carries the suitcase, my black dress
        Stuffed inside for her father's funeral.

Jan wants the weight in her hand.
        Like the painter who carried his portrait under his arm,
As if he might revise it anywhere. Not his fresco
        Fixed in a monastery, where a woman

In a surgical mask studies the palimpsest of dust
        And candle smoke, tries to undo
The damage of hundreds of years.
        It is twilight, all boundary, and the boulevard

Is ribbon winding slowly lighter—entre chien et loup.
        Pigeons strut at the iron gate, restless,
And the boulevard is slick with rain.
        Jan searches her coin purse for francs.

The street funnels the headlights
        From cars, holds them, arranges them in long lines,
Red and white and yellow, our shoes
        Extinguishing the light beneath the sfumato air.

The sidewalk glows metallic—I could go on:
        It silvers, reflects sky. And the artist
With his rolled-up canvas, his brush and egg yolk,
        Perhaps he wanted to preserve this light

Our shoes press into or
        The way we watch a man
Walk to his car, unlock the door,
        Light in his hair as he climbs in,

Gesture of stretching seatbelt, door slam.
        How can we preserve any of this?
Coughing of engine, white reverse lights,
        His head twists backwards as

My lips try to brighten Jan's face with a kiss.
        A woman restores the fresco, one square
Inch per month, and we see the entrance to the metro
        As the boulevard unravels beneath our feet.


--

Whatever it is that strikes you about this poem, run with it. Whether it's the painterly descriptions, the use of French terms (here are some other popular ones), the vignette of a walk, consoling someone who has recently lost a relative, the restoration of art (the infamous attempt to restore Ecco Homo by Elías García Martínez is one thing that immediately comes to mind), specifically the term sfumato is intriguing if that might be something you are sparked by. Perhaps the jagged quatrain structure has struck a chord with you during this, National Poetry Month. Maybe it's something as small as the act of searching for change, or something as large as being unable to distinguish between dog and wolf—innocent and dangerous. Have fun!

For an explication of the poem check out the page Between Dog and Wolf.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 18, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: Ekphrasis.

About today's writing prompt genre: Ekphrasis is from Greek meaning the description of a work of art as a rhetorical device. That's actually pretty straight forward, but another way to look at it, is it's highfalutin fan fiction, usually about paintings or pieces of music, but it can be about virtually anything. Look at or listen to the following piece of art and write a piece of prose or poetry that is inspired by some aspect of it.


Today's artwork is...

The poem "Explaining a Few Things" by Charles Simic from his collection A Wedding in Hell as well as his National Book Finalist collection  The Voice at 3:00 A.M. Selected and Late Poems. Charles Simic won the Pulitzer Prize for his collection The World Doesn't End, and a professor emeritus at The University of New Hampshire. Although many classify him as a surrealist poet, when asked about his surrealism by Cortland Review editor J.M. Spalding he responded: "I'm a hard-nosed realist. Surrealism means nothing in a country like ours where supposedly millions of Americans took joyrides in UFOs. Our cities are full of homeless and mad people going around talking to themselves. Not many people seem to notice them. I watch them and eavesdrop on them."

Explaining a Few Things

Every worm is a martyr,
Every sparrow subject to injustice,
I said to my cat,
Since there was no one else around.

It's raining. In spite of their huge armies
What can ants do?
And the roach on the wall
Like a waiter in an empty restaurant?

I'm going down to the cellar
To stroke the rat caught in a trap.
You watch the sky.
If it clears, scratch on the door.


**

However you are inspired by this poem, go for it. Whether it's the form of quatrains, the title (which is reminiscent of Pablo Neruda's "I'm Explaining a Few Things" which is a very powerful war poem about the Spanish civil war. It could be the idea of addressing your pet because no one else is around. It could use the idea of petting a trapped pest, or questioning what purpose insects can have, or what they can do against the grand forces of the world, as Simic does wondering what ants can do to defend against the rain. Maybe you were intrigued by the first line, and want to adapt that to "Every ______ is a martyr" and build from that. Or perhaps you were intrigued by the tone of the poem and want to adopt it for your piece. Have a wonderful time!

Friday, April 17, 2015

I was featured in the first online version of Roanoke Review


Be Wary Citizens!

I know this isn't an exercise, and I've been trying to keep posts mostly for that purpose, but if I'm going to have a blog, I might as well self promote a little, especially if I can promote a great journal at the same time.


The Roanoke Review has gone digital!


And as luck would have it, they've featured a sestina of mine:

"I try to remind my little sister of the time we watched Fargo"

and they even tweeted about it.



I'm very proud to be in their first online issue, and this is the second time I've had a poem in their fine pages, the first being my poem "In Bed at 4 a.m." in their 2007 print issue.

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 17, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: Five Random Constraints.

About today's writing prompt genre: This is an exercise to make your brain work within a confined space. There will be a few constraints pressed upon your writing, some meant to help drive narrative, some meant to slow the process of the ever-flowing feed of words that stream through the mind. To make you meditate on specific word choice not necessarily at the most important plot places, but irregularly so that even connections can dictate concern and consideration at the word-level.

Today's constraints are...

1) Whether a poem or a story, the word count must be under 150 words.
2) You must include three numbers in your piece.
3) At least two sentences/lines must begin with the word "You" or "You're."
4) You must include at least two sentences/lines that only contain three words.
5) Your title or the first line must include the word "Funnel."

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 16, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: Narrative thread.

About today's writing prompt genre: Take the following story aspect and work it into a piece, whether poetry or prose, whether you explore what led up to this place in the story, it begins with the thread, or the thread is merely a tiny aspect of the story that has crystallized around the original image. However you choose to write it, use the following as a jumping off point.




Today's thread is...



Talking with an old friend you haven't seen in many years, you bring up a fond memory and he proceeds to explain how wrong you were about your recollection.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 15, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: Ekphrasis.

With You by Andre Kohn
Ekphrasis is from Greek meaning the description of a work of art as a rhetorical device. That's actually pretty straight forward, but another way to look at it, is it's highfalutin fan fiction, usually about paintings or pieces of music, but it can be about virtually anything.


Today's artwork is...


With You by Andre Kohn


One of the things I really like about this painting is that it looks almost as if the scene is happening within the paint, as opposed to on the surface of the canvas. The texture of the paint works tremendously with the wet nature of the scene. I also really like the vague figures farther back in the scene, the couple also with an umbrella, the solo person with an umbrella, and the two without. The two individuals without umbrellas is especially interesting: why don't they have umbrellas? Why are they out in the rain? But also, the couple right in front also begs for a narrative. Many options to translate aspects of the painting into a story or poem.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 14, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: The How-To.

About today's writing prompt genre: Today we'll work with the good old 'how-to' genre. Write a 'list poem' (or a regular poem) or a piece of prose that explains various ways or steps in how-to do something.


Today's how-to is...



How to bake cookies with your dog.



Dogs aren't traditionally thought of as helpers in the kitchen, usually more of beggars for food. Is the dog actually helpful, or an adorable/frustrating hindrance? Why is the dog 'helping' in the first place? Do you get into the actual ingredients of some sort of cookie, or are the cookies meant for the dog (like homemade dog biscuits)? I'm a sucker for the image of a golden retriever with a smudge of flour on its nose, but are you going with the 'cute' motif, or something more sinister or upsetting?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 13, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: Wordbank.

For wordbank exercises take a few minutes to look through the following links which will have various lists of words. Pick out a dozen or so you like, whether for their uniqueness, their sound, even just their meaning, whatever the reason, pick a bunch of words. If any of the words' meanings are not crystal clear spend a little time both checking it out in the dictionary but also check through wikipedia for history of the word and its usage, if it's a place or has some significance in the world aside from just its meaning. In your notebook take note of anything interesting that you come across. Be sure to look through all the related words and antonyms. You won't need to use all the words now, just some of them and it's good to have a pool to choose from.


Once you have your list, have done some research and have at least a half dozen notes try to following exercises.

1) Use three of the words in the same sentence. Then take those same words and use them in a new sentence but in the reverse order.
2) Use two of the words in a sentence that also includes the word "Maroon."
3) Write two separate sentences that each use one word from the wordbank and a proper noun.
4) Use two of the words in a phrase or sentence fragment that is under six words.
5) Either use the phrase from #4 as a title and write either a poem or a piece of short prose to fit it, or the sentence from #2 as the first line of your poem or story.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 12, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: Narrative thread.

About today's writing prompt genre: Take the following story aspect and work it into a piece, whether poetry or prose, whether you explore what led up to this place in the story, it begins with the thread, or the thread is merely a tiny aspect of the story that has crystallized around the original image. However you choose to write it, use the following as a jumping off point.


Today's thread is...


Waiting for a bus, a man approaches you with a very unusual request...


How do you react? What is he asking? Paint the scene for us, whether it's creepy, kooky, or just plain weird. What's the bus stop like, where are you going, why on the bus? What does the man look like? Have fun with it.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 11, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: Ekphrasis.

Knowledge by Angel Boligan
About today's writing prompt genre: Ekphrasis is from Greek meaning the description of a work of art as a rhetorical device. That's actually pretty straight forward, but another way to look at it, is it's highfalutin fan fiction, usually about paintings or pieces of music, but it can be about virtually anything.

Today's artwork is...

Knowledge by Angel Boligan

This fantastic piece of digital art by Cuban artist Angel Boligan has a lot going on that we writers can use as jumping off points. Whether it's the actual conversation between the elderly man and the child, a comparison of their disparate experience as seen by the man, or by the child. It could be various aspects of experience that can be seen in the man's trail of experience, a representation of the actual visual that appears, or the larger conflict of communication difficulties between generations. Whatever path you take for this, have a good time, and man, what a cool piece of art.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 10, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: Five Random Constraints.

About today's writing prompt genre: This is an exercise to make your brain work within a confined space. There will be a few constraints pressed upon your writing, some meant to help drive narrative, some meant to slow the process of the ever-flowing feed of words that stream through the mind. To make you meditate on specific word choice not necessarily at the most important plot places, but irregularly so that even connections can dictate concern and consideration at the word-level.

Today's constraints are...

1) The words "Moist" and "Toast" must appear in either the title or the last sentence.
2) A cartoon character (actual, or invented for this piece) must be described.
3) You must include at least three pairs of homonyms somewhere in your piece.
4) Your story must have an at least somewhat unreliable narrator.
5) You must describe one sound in two very different ways, in different paragraphs.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 9, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: Random Generation.

About today's writing prompt genre: Random Generation exercises allow computers to help you find your prompt, you know, instead of visiting this website via messenger pigeon and cranking out the pages with your mechanical typewriter. Write a piece or fragment that utilizes the following random element.


Today's random generation is...

The Title Factory. For today's random generation use Kitt.net's random title generator five times. Write down at least one title from each grouping. From this list you will pick both the title for this exercise, as well as two phrases that you must use somewhere in the story or poem. Feel free to alter the titles slightly (changing articles or tenses etc). If you're having a hard time picking which will be the title, use the one that comes first alphabetically.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 8, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: The How-To.

About today's writing prompt genre: Today we'll work with the good old 'how-to' genre. Write a 'list poem' (or a regular poem) or a piece of prose that explains various ways or steps in how-to do something.


Today's how-to is...


How to read in the dark.


Now, what is being read? Totally up to you—are you reading the stars? Braille or its little-known older brother Sonography (or night writing)? Are you straining your eyes to read a book after lights out (what book, why still reading etc)? Squinting to make out potential predator's tracks? Or is it more metaphorical? Are you explaining how to make decisions despite not knowing details of a situation (being in the dark). Or do you take the opposite tact? Why you can't or shouldn't read in the dark. Let's see some creativity here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 7, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: Narrative thread.

About today's writing prompt genre: Take the following story aspect and work it into a piece, whether poetry or prose, whether you explore what led up to this place in the story, it begins with the thread, or the thread is merely a tiny aspect of the story that has crystallized around the original image. However you choose to write it, use the following as a jumping off point.
This is a photo of the Bender Knife used in a gruesome
series of murders in southeast Kansas in the 1870s

Today's thread is...

Hidden in your six year old nephew's closet you find a knife covered in what looks like dried blood.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 6, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: Five Random Constraints.

About today's writing prompt genre: This is an exercise to make your brain work within a confined space. There will be a few constraints pressed upon your writing, some meant to help drive narrative, some meant to slow the process of the ever-flowing feed of words that stream through the mind. To make you meditate on specific word choice not necessarily at the most important plot places, but irregularly so that even connections can dictate concern and consideration at the word-level.

Today's constraints are...

1) You must use the word "Ball" somewhere in your title.
2) Your first paragraph must have an odd number of sentences, your second must be even, third odd and so forth.
3) The piece must be written in first person.
4) A broken (or non-operational) phone must come into play somehow.
5) A secondary color (orange, purple or green) must appear in the first and final paragraph.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 5, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: Ekphrasis.

About today's writing prompt genre: Ekphrasis is from Greek meaning the description of a work of art as a rhetorical device. That's actually pretty straight forward, but another way to look at it, is it's highfalutin fan fiction, usually about paintings or pieces of music, but it can be about virtually anything. Look at or listen to the following piece of art and write a piece of prose or poetry that is inspired by some aspect of it.


Today's artwork is...

The poem "Brother of the Unknown Ancient Man" by James Tate (from his Selected Poems which won the Pulitzer Prize and the William Carlos Williams Award). From poetryfoundation.org about James Tate for those unfamiliar with his work:  "James Tate’s poems have been described as tragic, comic, absurdist, nihilistic, hopeful, haunting, lonely, and surreal." I think that's a pretty good summary.

Brother of the Unknown Ancient Man

I think you are in love with more
than a story this is the story of
stories and what you have done with it

The food has been cooked the wine
has been chilled and the guest of
honor is at the bottom of the lake

He had a hunger for the flying
machine funny these white clouds
don't feel like toilet paper

Bony fingers of death heaven knows
when I'll be able to talk to anyone
like I'm talking to you know

I'm in a family way ninety-proof
fiction the party is next door
and that's the way it's always been

What manner of me are these
I hate airports too many airplanes
what could I ever do but love her

Brother of the unknown ancient man
he forsook all earthbound vanities
throw the dirt gently onto his grave.


**

Whether you're inspired by poem's form with jumbledness of some of the lines without punctuation where two ideas are mashed together on the same line, an individual image or phrase from the poem like "ninety-proof fiction" or perhaps a sequence (I really like the L4 through the first word of L8 as the seed for an interesting piece).

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 4, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: Narrative thread.

About today's writing prompt genre: Take the following story aspect and work it into a piece, whether poetry or prose, whether you explore what led up to this place in the story, it begins with the thread, or the thread is merely a tiny aspect of the story that has crystallized around the original image. However you choose to write it, use the following as a jumping off point.
Screencap from the movie L.A. Story



Today's thread is...



The electronic bank sign just outside your window that normally just reads the time, date, and temperature begins communicating with you in short broken phrases late one night.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 3, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: The How-To.

About today's writing prompt genre: Today we'll work with the good old 'how-to' genre. Write a 'list poem' (or a regular poem) or a piece of prose that explains various ways or steps in how-to do something.


Today's how-to is...

How to build a snowman in Fiji.


While this may seem relatively impossible at first thought, how could it be possible? That's your job today, how could you possibly build a snowman on the tropical island of Fiji? Or is it a metaphor for attempting what might be impossible, improbable, or something easily dismissed? Good luck.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 2, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: Ekphrasis.

About today's writing prompt genre: Ekphrasis is from Greek meaning the description of a work of art as a rhetorical device. That's actually pretty straight forward, but another way to look at it, is it's highfalutin fan fiction, usually about paintings or pieces of music, but it can be about virtually anything. Look at or listen to the following piece of art and write a piece of prose or poetry that is inspired by some aspect of it.


Today's artwork is...


Fragile Dream by Joe Hisaishi from his album Piano Stories 4.

Listen to the whole song (I like to do it with my eyes closed when trying to write an ekphrastic piece from music). As you go along, try to pick parts that stand out, and isolate one or two to flesh out. The interplay of violin and piano definitely lends itself to a dialog or perhaps something of a symbiosis or dependency between two things or people, but the piece lilts in many ways. It may remind you of a specific place, a memory, it could transport you to somewhere you've seen in a movie or in a picture. Maybe you have the Wii game Fragile Dreams and the name of the song transported you to some of the game's story or art. Listen to the music at least three times before you finish your piece.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015