Fall Writing Exercise Series #28: Ekphrastic Lakeside Sunrise

The Notebooking Daily Fall Writing Series is a daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep your creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

These exercises are not meant to be a standard writing session. They are meant to be productive and to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink them, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

Ekphrastic Lakeside Sunrise

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 the following image by French digital artist Clement Dartigues.

If nothing right off strikes you try the following exercises along with the image.

  1. Imagine three different people who live in this building, one young, one adult and one elderly. In a simple paragraph for each describe their average day, or at least four events that would be commonplace.
  2. Think of three strange occurrences that might happen in this location (a meteorite strike, a monster sighting, someone returning from the dead or from presumed dead etc) and write a paragraph or stanza for each of them.
  3. Pick your favorite character from #1 and your favorite strange occurrence from #2 and write a piece that combines the two, perhaps using anaphora or listing of what 'normally' happens.
  4. Pick what you think is the weakest, most boring paragraph or stanza from #1 or #2. Figure out why you don't like it. Write four alternatives to the part you don't like. Expand your new favorite to between 60 and 120 words.
Or, alternatively, complete these exercises:
  1. The quality and tone of light indicates that this is morning sunlight. In a list of at least seven incomplete sentences describe what you imagine the scene would look like with sunset's light (coming from the left of the frame, and more orange as opposed to yellow). Now make a list of seven incomplete sentences describing the scene as it is.
  2. Find your favorite thing listed in #5. That's how your vignette/poem ends. Add three more things from either sunset or sunrise to your list from #5. Pick your favorite from the opposite list (if your piece ends with sunset, now you're picking from sunrise descriptions), that's the opening of your piece. Add three more things to that list (sunrise/set). Pick your favorite - other things from each list. Think of it as 2 sections, sunrise and sunset, each section must include the words "At sun____" with the corresponding time at least 3 times. Now you have the scaffolding, just add the facade and, baby, you've got yourself a piece of writing.


If you'd like background writing music try this mix of Studio Ghibli soundtrack music by the genius Joe Hisaishi.