7/25/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #206: Erasing Roger Ebert 34 "Top Gun"

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#206
Erasing Roger Ebert 34 "Top Gun"

For today's exercise we have split paths for fiction and poetry, though I highly recommend that even fiction writers try the poetry exercise, because erasures can be a blast!

Poetry: For poetry do an erasure or black-out poem from the following:  Roger Ebert's review of the 1986 film "Top Gun" (Two and a Half Stars).

Roger Ebert has been the archetypal film critic for decades, and he's written thousands of reviews. Because of their nature, almost their own bit of ekphrastic art, this series of erasures will be lots of fun!

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 'bingo' occurs multiple times and could be a good touchstone for your piece.

Fiction or (poetry): If you insist on fiction (or just feel like writing a "Title Mania" piece), write a piece with one of these  titles taken from this section:

  1. Dying Art
  2. The Mystery of the Heroic Father
  3. Grimly Predictable
  4. At Top Gun School
  5. A Washout
  6. Almost Palpable
  7. Obligatory Crisis of Conscience


Erasure Selection:

Roger Ebert's review of "Top Gun" 

In the opening moments of "Top Gun," an ace Navy pilot flies upside down about 18 inches above a Russian-built MiG and snaps a Polaroid picture of the enemy pilot. Then he flips him the finger and peels off.

It's a hot-dog stunt, but it makes the pilot (Tom Cruise) famous within the small circle of Navy personnel who are cleared to receive information about close encounters with enemy aircraft. And the pilot, whose code name is Maverick, is selected for the Navy's elite flying school, which is dedicated to the dying art of aerial dogfights.

The best graduate from each class at the school is known as "Top Gun." And there, I think, you have the basic materials of this movie, except, of course, for three more obligatory ingredients in all movies about brave young pilots: (1) the girl, (2) the mystery of the heroic father and (3) the rivalry with another pilot. It turns out that Maverick's dad was a brilliant Navy jet pilot during the Vietnam era, until he and his plane disappeared in unexplained circumstances. And it also turns out that one of the instructors at the flying school is a pretty young brunet (Kelly McGillis) who wants to know a lot more about how Maverick snapped that other pilot's picture.

"Top Gun" settles fairly quickly into alternating ground and air scenes, and the simplest way to sum up the movie is to declare the air scenes brilliant and the earthbound scenes grimly predictable. This is a movie that comes in two parts: It knows exactly what to do with special effects, but doesn't have a clue as to how two people in love might act and talk and think.

Aerial scenes always present a special challenge in a movie.

There's the danger that the audience will become spatially disoriented.

We're used to seeing things within a frame that respects left and right, up and down, but the fighter pilot lives in a world of 360-degree turns. The remarkable achievement in "Top Gun" is that it presents seven or eight aerial encounters that are so well choreographed that we can actually follow them most of the time, and the movie gives us a good secondhand sense of what it might be like to be in a dogfight.

The movie's first and last sequences involve encounters with enemy planes. Although the planes are MiGs, the movie provides no nationalities for their pilots. We're told the battles take place in the Indian Ocean, and that's it. All of the sequences in between take place at Top Gun school, where Maverick quickly gets locked into a personal duel with another brilliant pilot, Iceman (Val Kilmer). In one sequence after another, the sound track trembles as the sleek planes pursue each other through the clouds, and, yeah, it's exciting. But the love story between Cruise and McGillis is a washout.

It's pale and unconvincing compared with the chemistry between Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay in "Risky Business," and between McGillis and Harrison Ford in "Witness" - not to mention between Richard Gere and Debra Winger in "An Officer and a Gentleman," which obviously inspired "Top Gun." Cruise and McGillis spend a lot of time squinting uneasily at each other and exchanging words as if they were weapons, and when they finally get physical, they look like the stars of one of those sexy new perfume ads. There's no flesh and blood here, which is remarkable, given the almost palpable physical presence McGillis had in "Witness." In its other scenes on the ground, the movie seems content to recycle old cliches and conventions out of countless other war movies.

Wouldn't you know, for example, that Maverick's commanding officer at the flying school is the only man who knows what happened to the kid's father in Vietnam? And are we surprised when Maverick's best friend dies in his arms? Is there any suspense as Maverick undergoes his obligatory crisis of conscience, wondering whether he can ever fly again? Movies like "Top Gun" are hard to review because the good parts are so good and the bad parts are so relentless. The dogfights are absolutely the best since Clint Eastwood's electrifying aerial scenes in "Firefox." But look out for the scenes where the people talk to one another.

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If you'd like some background music, try this "Just chillin'" lofi mix.
 

7/24/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #205: Beginning, Middle & End 19

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#205
Beginning, Middle & End 19

For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which begins with one image, scenario, line of dialog or place, includes another thing or event somewhere beyond the first and before the last stanza/paragraph, and ends with another required 'thing'.

Begin WithA rock skipping across a lake.

Somewhere in the middle: Show a tree stump being exploded (by people or lightning).

End WithSomething sinking in water.

Extra Credit RequirementsYour title or first line must include the word "Bongos", and we should get at least three smells in the piece.

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If you'd like some background writing music try this "Feelin' Real Beachy" upbeat lofi mix.

7/23/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #204: How to... 14

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#204
How to... 14

For today's prompt we are focusing on imperative directional pieces. What does that mean? A "How to"! You don't have to title your piece "How to ..." (though you certainly can if you'd like to), you could write a prose piece that merely includes someone giving another directions or you could make it a step by step process like a recipe, however you want to interpret the prompt, the process that is the 'how to' should merely be described at some length during your piece, in some fashion. 

For a couple examples of "How to" pieces. "How to Get There" by Philip Levine, "How to tie a knot" by James Kimbrell, the villanelle "The Grammar Lesson" by Steve Kowit, Mónica de la Torre's wonderful "How to Look at Mexican Highways". and the awesome short story "How to Write a True War Story" by Tim O'Brien.

How toInhale (When Your Body Only Wants to Clench Itself Tightly As Possible).

Today's 'How to' is a bit quirky, so feel free to interpret this how you will, or as an alternate "How to: Inhale While Sobbing Hysterically".

Extra Credit RequirementsYour piece must include a desert setting (or reference) and the words "Yellow" "Presidents" "Beagle" "Frowning" and "Cloth".

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If you'd like some background music try this 2018 album by Chet Baker: "Late Night Jazz"

7/22/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #203: Ekphrastic Fantastic 17

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#203
Ekphrastic Fantastic 17

For today, we're pairing images for you to respond to. The two images will be contrasting and it will be up to you how they can interact, how your writing can make the two pieces of art meet. Or, just pick one of the images and run with it if you'd rather. I'm not here to tell you exactly what to do, just to help you get the ball rolling. But if it was me, I would look for commonalities or how one image could be an imagination or memory or media within the other image, or if they exist in the same 'world', how you can get from one point in space and time to the other. But you do you boo-boo.


Image 1: This 1835 Color woodblock print titled The Seaweed-gathering Ritual in Nagato Province (Nagato mekari no shinji), from the series “Famous Places in the Provinces (Shokoku meisho)” by the Japanese artist  Totoya Hokkei.


Image 2:  This 1903 'Pen and brown ink and colored crayons on tan wove paper' piece titled "Beggar with a Crutch" by Pablo Picasso


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How do these two images play off of each other in your mind? Are you going from one to the other or do they intermingle in your piece? Is the man with the crutch someone who used to harvest the seaweed? Is he watching it? Is it just something he knows about? Does he have a tale of woe and someone confronts him with the seaweed gathering dangers? Something totally different? How might they be connected? Are they completely unrelated? You decide. Don't overthink it, take a couple minutes perhaps, but dive in and make this happen!

You got this!
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If you'd like background writing music, try this lofi mix "Heavy Rain".



7/21/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #202: Erasing EAP "The Oblong Box" 7

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes. 

#202
Erasing EAP "The Oblong Box" 7

For today's exercise we have split paths for fiction and poetry, though I highly recommend that even fiction writers try the poetry exercise, because erasures can be a blast!

For poetry do an erasure or black-out poem from the following selection of Edgar Allen Poe's 1844 short story "The Oblong Box".

THIS IS IT! THE FINAL SECTION!

Edgar Allen Poe is considered by some to be the writer that solidified the short story genre as, well, a genre. Not the first writer of short stories, or even popular short stories, but he wrote enough of them that with the stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charles Dickens, Irving Washington and others, critics were finally like—fine. Short stories can be a thing.

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, or themes.

If you insist on fiction (or if one of these strikes you), write a piece with one of these titles taken from this section:

  1. The Madman
  2. Several Turns (of a Three-Inch-Rope)
  3. Observe, Captain
  4. Not Till the Salt Melts
  5. At Some More Appropriate Time 
  6. Four Days of Intense Distress 
  7. The Pseudo-Wife


Erasure Selection:

from "The Oblong Box"

    As our distance from the wreck rapidly increased, the madman (for as such only could we regard him) was seen to emerge from the companion—way, up which by dint of strength that appeared gigantic, he dragged, bodily, the oblong box. While we gazed in the extremity of astonishment, he passed, rapidly, several turns of a three-inch rope, first around the box and then around his body. In another instant both body and box were in the sea—disappearing suddenly, at once and forever.

    We lingered awhile sadly upon our oars, with our eyes riveted upon the spot. At length we pulled away. The silence remained unbroken for an hour. Finally, I hazarded a remark.

"Did you observe, captain, how suddenly they sank? Was not that an exceedingly singular thing? I confess that I entertained some feeble hope of his final deliverance, when I saw him lash himself to the box, and commit himself to the sea."

"They sank as a matter of course," replied the captain, "and that like a shot. They will soon rise again, however—BUT NOT TILL THE SALT MELTS."

"The salt!" I ejaculated.

"Hush!" said the captain, pointing to the wife and sisters of the deceased. "We must talk of these things at some more appropriate time."

    We suffered much, and made a narrow escape, but fortune befriended us, as well as our mates in the long-boat. We landed, in fine, more dead than alive, after four days of intense distress, upon the beach opposite Roanoke Island. We remained here a week, were not ill-treated by the wreckers, and at length obtained a passage to New York.

    About a month after the loss of the "Independence," I happened to meet Captain Hardy in Broadway. Our conversation turned, naturally, upon the disaster, and especially upon the sad fate of poor Wyatt. I thus learned the following particulars.

    The artist had engaged passage for himself, wife, two sisters and a servant. His wife was, indeed, as she had been represented, a most lovely, and most accomplished woman. On the morning of the fourteenth of June (the day in which I first visited the ship), the lady suddenly sickened and died. The young husband was frantic with grief—but circumstances imperatively forbade the deferring his voyage to New York. It was necessary to take to her mother the corpse of his adored wife, and, on the other hand, the universal prejudice which would prevent his doing so openly was well known. Nine-tenths of the passengers would have abandoned the ship rather than take passage with a dead body.

    In this dilemma, Captain Hardy arranged that the corpse, being first partially embalmed, and packed, with a large quantity of salt, in a box of suitable dimensions, should be conveyed on board as merchandise. Nothing was to be said of the lady's decease; and, as it was well understood that Mr. Wyatt had engaged passage for his wife, it became necessary that some person should personate her during the voyage. This the deceased lady's-maid was easily prevailed on to do. The extra state-room, originally engaged for this girl during her mistress' life, was now merely retained. In this state-room the pseudo-wife, slept, of course, every night. In the daytime she performed, to the best of her ability, the part of her mistress—whose person, it had been carefully ascertained, was unknown to any of the passengers on board.

    My own mistake arose, naturally enough, through too careless, too inquisitive, and too impulsive a temperament. But of late, it is a rare thing that I sleep soundly at night. There is a countenance which haunts me, turn as I will. There is an hysterical laugh which will forever ring within my ears.
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As your background music sommelier, I've chosen to again pair Vangelis with your "Erasing Edgar Allen Poe", "The Obling Box" series. For this sampling I've selected Vangelis' 1977 studio album "Spiral".

7/20/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #201: Title Mania "Elastic" 18

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#201
Title Mania "Elastic" 18

For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose that utilizes one of the following titles, and if you want extra 'bonus points' also include the three items from below the title list. There is absolutely nothing that these potential titles have in common, I swear.

Titles:
  1. Elasticity
  2. Stretched Elastic Bands
  3. Elastic Waistbands
  4. Static, Elastic
  5. Whether Plastic, Elastic or Bombastic 
  6. The Grand Band Debate: Elastic or Rubber 
Bonus Exercise: Three Things
(Your piece must also include the following three 'things', if you choose this option)
  1. Hut
  2.  Plug
  3. Juxtaposition
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If you'd like some background music try the 1964 album "Idle Moments" by Grant Green.

7/19/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #200: 'Wedding' Multi-Prompt 9—DOUBLED UP!

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#200
'Wedding' Multi-Prompt 9—DOUBLED UP!
For today's writing exercise you actually have 4 choices! In the spirit of a wedding needing "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Blue." The first offered prompt is one from Notebooking Daily's past, the second is a brand new prompt for the day of one prompt theme or another, the third prompt is a 'borrowed' prompt from one of Sparked's 'Prompting Partners', and the fourth prompt is a wildcard riffing on the idea of 'Something Blue'. Take a look and dive in! First thought, best thought for these prompts.

In honor of being our 200th prompt of the year, this multi-prompt is even more multi-er! A double dose from each category to give you an overwhelming number of prompts. But don't be overwhelmed. Do a couple of them.

Something Old: 1) Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise July 6, 2015 (Five Random Constraints) (Published on Notebooking Daily on 7/6/15 this day has five constraints—for instance, the first is "1) Your title must be four words long and not include an E.").
2) Fall Writing Exercise Series #94: 3x5x10+ Wordbank 15 (Published on Notebooking Daily on 12/4/19)

Something New: 1) Six Word Shootout (include these words in a piece): Floored, Sword, Gourd, Backboard, Ford, Ignored
2) Anaphora Files: Use the following phrase to begin at least 4 sentences in your piece: "From the edges". 

Something Borrowed: 1) 3Elements Literary Magazine ISSUE NO. 14 SPRING 2017 (include the following three things: Husk, Echo, Quell). Reminder, this piece can be sent to Sparked Lit Mag! It doesn't have to have been written when the issue was currently reading.
2) Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge July 2016Reminder, this piece can be sent to Sparked Lit Mag! It doesn't have to have been written when the issue was currently reading.

Something Blue: 1) Write a piece in which someone roams the streets of Santorini with their famous blue roofs and white walls.

2) Write a piece where a blue jay catches the eye of someone doing something that they know they will regret.

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Breeze" Lofi mix.

7/18/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #199: First Line Bonanza 17

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#199
First Line Bonanza 17

For today's writing exercise write a piece that begins with one of the following first lines.

1) The spot was given away by a swirl of flies that glittered in the mid-day sunlight.
2) There would be no apology.
3) Unlearning is much more difficult a task than acquiring knowledge.
4) A full recovery, she thought, was unlikely.
5) It would later be branded as a rebirth—from the ashes like a phoenix—but I knew better.
6) Shadows hid their more subtle gestures.

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Bonus 'constraint': You must include a paragraph/stanza in which we get shades of all primary color (maroon, teal, canary etc—but just plain blue red and yellow works too).
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If you'd like some background music to write to, try Canadian virtuoso jazz pianist Oscar Peterson's album "Bossa Nova".

7/17/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #198 The Trouble with Anaphora—Repetition Files 11

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#198
The Trouble with Anaphora—Repetition Files 11

For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which focuses on repetition. In this instance we will work with anaphora. It's a handy little bit of poetic craft that goes a little something like this:

the repetition of a word or words at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, or lines to create a sonic effect.
Take a moment and read the above-linked Poetry Foundation article, even if you know the term. For even more fun check out this longer article called Adventures in Anaphora.

Your mission is to use the following phrase to begin at least 5 sentences. 

The word or phrase we'll use for our exercise today is:

"The trouble with..." 

    There are a number of ways you could approach this bit of anaphora—is the running meaning working, retreating from something, advancing on something, is it giving the finer points of running track as opposed to just 'running'? Whatever you do, just be sure that the repeated phrase earns its worth in your piece, and it should in some way build upon what came before it. The repetition should be necessary and not merely redundant.


    Bonus Exercise:
     Include these five words into your piece "Forensic" "Humored" "Jet" "Nuance" and "Lower".
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    If you'd like some background music to write to, try Oscar Peterson's "A Jazz Portrait Of Frank Sinatra" from 1959.

    7/16/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #197: Three Things, Five Words 18

    The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

    This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

    #197
    Three Things, Five Words 18
    For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which contains the following three things, and these five individual words. The three things should be important to the piece, not just a throwaway reference used because it has to be. This is prompt time, baby! 

    If you're not sure where to start, begin by finding a connection between two of the 'things'—whether that is a shared appearance, locale, one of the things might interact with another (or all three), some way that the two are likened or could be physically together. Use one of the things with two of the 'words' in the beginning of the piece and explore for a bit, knowing that you're aiming at the second ''thing' (where the two 'things' have their connection) about 1/3-1/2 of the way through what you imagine the length of the piece (which may be totally off). By then you should have a direction and it's off to the races, with that third 'thing' in your pathway to the finishing line.

    'Three Things'
    1. A Coral Reef
    2. Mt. Everest
    3. A Slinky
    'Five Words' 
    Include these five words in your piece: 
    Stapled, Clamor, Chalk, Pliers, Effervescent.

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    If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Moment of Solitude" lofi mix from our lofi buddy Dreamy

    7/15/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #196: Dueling Six Word Shootout 18

    The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

    This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

    #196
    Dueling Six Word Shootout 18
    For today's writing exercise write a piece that includes one or both of the following sets of 6 words. Don't front-load them all into the beginning of your piece, save at least one or two for somewhere to 'aim' your piece. Remember sestinas have 6 different end-words, but don't let me tell you what to write. Just use all 6 (or twelve) words in a fashion that isn't throw-away. Don't put them in in a way that you'll definitely later edit them out because they don't add to the piece. Make them important. This might require a little brainstorming at first. Don't be afraid, you can do it!

    Set 1: 
    1) French 
    2) Wrench
    3) Mention 
    4) Enchanted 
    5)  Talented
    6) Plead 

    Set 2:
    7) Bench 
    8) Urgent 
    9) Plaid 
    10) Thread
    11) Stench
    12) Squid

    ---
    Bonus Exercise: If that's not enough, also include the following three things: An Eel, A Mango, and The Indian Ocean.
    ------------------------------------

    If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "72 Degrees and Sunny" lofi mix.

    7/14/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #195: Beginning, Middle & End 18

    The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

    This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

    #195
    Beginning, Middle & End 18

    For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which begins with one image, scenario, line of dialog or place, includes another thing or event somewhere beyond the first and before the last stanza/paragraph, and ends with another required 'thing'.

    Begin WithAn earthquake.

    Somewhere in the middle: A horse throws its rider.

    End WithA bunch of grapes being eaten.

    Extra Credit RequirementsYour title or first line must include the word "Equipped", and we should get at least three sentences which begin with "It's not".

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    If you'd like some background writing music try The Bill Evans Trio's 1962 album "Moon Beams" .

    7/13/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #194: Erasing EAP "The Oblong Box" 6

    The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

    This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes. 

    #194
    Erasing EAP "The Oblong Box" 6

    For today's exercise we have split paths for fiction and poetry, though I highly recommend that even fiction writers try the poetry exercise, because erasures can be a blast!

    For poetry do an erasure or black-out poem from the following selection of Edgar Allen Poe's 1844 short story "The Oblong Box".

    Edgar Allen Poe is considered by some to be the writer that solidified the short story genre as, well, a genre. Not the first writer of short stories, or even popular short stories, but he wrote enough of them that with the stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charles Dickens, Irving Washington and others, critics were finally like—fine. Short stories can be a thing.

    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, or themes.

    If you insist on fiction (or if one of these strikes you), write a piece with one of these titles taken from this section:

    1. Lighten the Ship
    2. At the Pumps
    3. Swamping
    4. Necessary Instruments
    5. A Piece of Good Fortune
    6. A Few Fathoms
    7. Capsize


    Erasure Selection:

    from "The Oblong Box"

        All was now confusion and despair—but an effort was made to lighten the ship by throwing overboard as much of her cargo as could be reached, and by cutting away the two masts that remained. This we at last accomplished—but we were still unable to do any thing at the pumps; and, in the meantime, the leak gained on us very fast.

        At sundown, the gale had sensibly diminished in violence, and as the sea went down with it, we still entertained faint hopes of saving ourselves in the boats. At eight P. M., the clouds broke away to windward, and we had the advantage of a full moon—a piece of good fortune which served wonderfully to cheer our drooping spirits.

        After incredible labor we succeeded, at length, in getting the longboat over the side without material accident, and into this we crowded the whole of the crew and most of the passengers. This party made off immediately, and, after undergoing much suffering, finally arrived, in safety, at Ocracoke Inlet, on the third day after the wreck.

        Fourteen passengers, with the captain, remained on board, resolving to trust their fortunes to the jolly-boat at the stern. We lowered it without difficulty, although it was only by a miracle that we prevented it from swamping as it touched the water. It contained, when afloat, the captain and his wife, Mr. Wyatt and party, a Mexican officer, wife, four children, and myself, with a negro valet.

        We had no room, of course, for any thing except a few positively necessary instruments, some provisions, and the clothes upon our backs. No one had thought of even attempting to save any thing more. What must have been the astonishment of all, then, when having proceeded a few fathoms from the ship, Mr. Wyatt stood up in the stern-sheets, and coolly demanded of Captain Hardy that the boat should be put back for the purpose of taking in his oblong box!

        "Sit down, Mr. Wyatt," replied the captain, somewhat sternly, "you will capsize us if you do not sit quite still. Our gunwhale is almost in the water now."

        "The box!" vociferated Mr. Wyatt, still standing—"the box, I say! Captain Hardy, you cannot, you will not refuse me. Its weight will be but a trifle—it is nothing—mere nothing. By the mother who bore you—for the love of Heaven—by your hope of salvation, I implore you to put back for the box!"

        The captain, for a moment, seemed touched by the earnest appeal of the artist, but he regained his stern composure, and merely said:

        "Mr. Wyatt, you are mad. I cannot listen to you. Sit down, I say, or you will swamp the boat. Stay—hold him—seize him!—he is about to spring overboard! There—I knew it—he is over!"

        As the captain said this, Mr. Wyatt, in fact, sprang from the boat, and, as we were yet in the lee of the wreck, succeeded, by almost superhuman exertion, in getting hold of a rope which hung from the fore-chains. In another moment he was on board, and rushing frantically down into the cabin.

        In the meantime, we had been swept astern of the ship, and being quite out of her lee, were at the mercy of the tremendous sea which was still running. We made a determined effort to put back, but our little boat was like a feather in the breath of the tempest. We saw at a glance that the doom of the unfortunate artist was sealed.
    ------------------------------------

    As your background music sommelier, I've chosen to again pair Vangelis with your "Erasing Edgar Allen Poe", "The Obling Box" series. For this sampling I've selected Vangelis' 2015 studio album "Rosetta".

    7/12/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #193: Erasing Roger Ebert 33 "The Breakfast Club"

    The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

    This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

    #193
    Erasing Roger Ebert 33 "The Breakfast Club"

    For today's exercise we have split paths for fiction and poetry, though I highly recommend that even fiction writers try the poetry exercise, because erasures can be a blast!

    Poetry: For poetry do an erasure or black-out poem from the following:  Roger Ebert's review of the 1985 film "The Breakfast Club" (Three Stars).

    Roger Ebert has been the archetypal film critic for decades, and he's written thousands of reviews. Because of their nature, almost their own bit of ekphrastic art, this series of erasures will be lots of fun!

    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 'bingo' occurs multiple times and could be a good touchstone for your piece.

    Fiction or (poetry): If you insist on fiction (or just feel like writing a "Title Mania" piece), write a piece with one of these  titles taken from this section:

    1. An Old Dramatic Standby
    2. Five Teenage Kids
    3. An Aggressive Desire Not to Have Anything in Common
    4. Standard Hang-Ups 
    5. Teenagers Who Seem Plausible to Other Teenagers
    6. Nostalgia-Drenched Memories
    7. Potted Philosophical Talk


    Erasure Selection:

    Roger Ebert's review of "The Breakfast Club" 

    "The Breakfast Club" begins with an old dramatic standby. You isolate a group of people in a room, you have them talk, and eventually they exchange truths about themselves and come to new understandings. William Saroyan and Eugene O'Neill have been here before, but they used saloons and drunks. "The Breakfast Club" uses a high school library and five teenage kids.

    The movie takes place on a Saturday. The five kids have all violated high school rules in one way or another, and they've qualified for a special version of detention: all day long, from 8 to 4, in the school library. They arrive at the school one at a time. There's the arrogant, swaggering tough guy (Judd Nelson). The insecure neurotic (Ally Sheedy) who hides behind her hair and clothes. The jock from the wrestling team (Emilio Estevez). The prom queen (Molly Ringwald). And the class brain (Anthony Michael Hall).

    These kids have nothing in common, and they have an aggressive desire not to have anything in common. In ways peculiar to teenagers, who sometimes have a studious disinterest in anything that contradicts their self-image, these kids aren't even curious about each other. Not at first, anyway. But then the day grows longer and the library grows more oppressive, and finally the tough kid can't resist picking on the prom queen, and then there is a series of exchanges.

    Nothing that happens in "The Breakfast Club" is all that surprising. The truths that are exchanged are more or less predictable, and the kids have fairly standard hang-ups. It comes as no surprise, for example, to learn that the jock's father is a perfectionist, or that the prom queen's parents give her material rewards but withhold their love. But "The Breakfast Club" doesn't need earthshaking revelations; it's about kids who grow willing to talk to one another, and it has a surprisingly good ear for the way they speak. (Ever notice the way lots of teenage girls, repeating a conversation, say "she goes ... rather than "she says..."?)

    The movie was written and directed by John Hughes, who also made last year's "Sixteen Candles." Two of the stars of that movie (Ringwald and Hall) are back again, and there's another similarity: Both movies make an honest attempt to create teenagers who might seem plausible to other teenagers. Most Hollywood teenage movies give us underage nymphos or nostalgia-drenched memories of the 1950s.

    The performances are wonderful, but then this is an all-star cast, as younger actors go; in addition to Hall and Ringwald from "Sixteen Candles," there's Sheedy from "War Games" and Estevez from "Repo Man." Judd Nelson is not yet as well known, but his character creates the strong center of the film; his aggression is what breaks the silence and knocks over the walls.

    The only weaknesses in Hughes' writing are in the adult characters: The teacher is one-dimensional and one-note, and the janitor is brought onstage with a potted philosophical talk that isn't really necessary. Typically, the kids don't pay much attention.

    Note: The "R" rating on this film refers to language; I think a PG-I3 rating would have been more reasonable. The film is certainly appropriate for thoughtful teenagers.

    ------------------------------------

    If you'd like some background music, try music from the anime Samurai Champloo selected for the 2013 vinyl collection "The Way of the Samurai".
     

    7/11/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #192: How to... 13

    The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

    This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

    #192
    How to... 13

    For today's prompt we are focusing on imperative directional pieces. What does that mean? A "How to"! You don't have to title your piece "How to ..." (though you certainly can if you'd like to), you could write a prose piece that merely includes someone giving another directions or you could make it a step by step process like a recipe, however you want to interpret the prompt, the process that is the 'how to' should merely be described at some length during your piece, in some fashion. 

    For a couple examples of "How to" pieces. "How to Get There" by Philip Levine, "How to tie a knot" by James Kimbrell, the villanelle "The Grammar Lesson" by Steve Kowit, Mónica de la Torre's wonderful "How to Look at Mexican Highways". and the awesome short story "How to Write a True War Story" by Tim O'Brien.

    How toDestroy a Healthy Relationship.

    Extra Credit RequirementsYour piece must include a kitchen, and the words "Floss" "Guillotine" "Groove" "Bolt" and "Nuance".

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    If you'd like some background music try The Thelonius Monk Quartet's 1963 album "Monk's Dream".

    7/10/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #191: 'Wedding' Multi-Prompt 8

    The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

    This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

    #191
    'Wedding' Multi-Prompt 8
    For today's writing exercise you actually have 4 choices! In the spirit of a wedding needing "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Blue." The first offered prompt is one from Notebooking Daily's past, the second is a brand new prompt for the day of one prompt theme or another, the third prompt is a 'borrowed' prompt from one of Sparked's 'Prompting Partners', and the fourth prompt is a wildcard riffing on the idea of 'Something Blue'. Take a look and dive in! First thought, best thought for these prompts.

    Something Old: Weekend Triple Threat: Title Mania, Three Things, How To (Published on Notebooking Daily on 4/17/16 this day has three different prompt options).

    Something New: Six Word Shootout (include these words in a piece): Spiderweb, Bass, Guide, Butter, Hovel, Barnacle

    Something Borrowed: 3Elements Literary Magazine ISSUE NO. 17 WINTER 2018 (include the following three things: Delusion, Blueprint, Fisherman). Reminder, this piece can be sent to Sparked Lit Mag! It doesn't have to have been written when the issue was currently reading.

    Something Blue: Write a piece in which someone repeatedly, unsuccessfully tries to calm themselves by imagining a calm blue pool.

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    If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Burn to ash" Lofi mix again from our lofi buddy Dreamy.

    7/9/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #190: Between a Fact and an Exact Place 14

    The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

    This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes. 

    #190
    Between a Fact and an Exact Place 14

    For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which contains the following place (either as the setting, referenced or some aspect of it described) and the following fact in some way (its discovery, used as a metaphor, witnessed etc).


    Exact Place:  The Tower of Hercules, Lighthouse in Spain (here is more info about the location—it is the oldest extant lighthouse, built in Spain by Romans in the first century) Here is from on the lighthouse.

    As an additional assignment, should you choose to incorporate it, is as follows: Also include the words "Robbery" "Baby" "Advice" "Stem" and "Doctor".

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    If you'd like some background music to write to, try soundtrack to jazz trumpeter Chet Baker's 1988 documentary "Let's Get Lost".


    7/8/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #189: Sentence Calisthenics 7

    The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

    This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 45 minutes.

    #189
    Sentence Calisthenics 7
    For today's writing exercise complete the following steps for a specific period of time, using the timer on your phone or computer and setting it for 5 minutes for each 'set'. The point here is to produce at very least 6 sentences in each set, but you're looking for both quality and quantity. Don't write a bunch of sentences with the same construction or that are boring—it's better if you have no idea how in the heck you might use the sentence. Something funky, interesting.  Normal, well-phrased sentences are of course good to have in the mix too, but include some quirky ones in each set.

    At the end of every set mark your favorite 1-2 sentences.

    In order to complete the large number of sentences demanded of this exercise it is imperative that you write fast. Don't stop to think too much at all until you've reached the final exercise. The process of this quick production is to thrust past second guesses or other stumbling blocks that sometimes impede your writing. You're aiming to write 30 individual, unlinked sentences in 25 minutes so you have ten minutes to organize and write that actual piece using the 'round up' prompt. This means you're going to be writing more than a sentence a minute. You can't do that if you're dawdling or trying to figure out the 'perfect' phrasing. The first couple times writing to these sprint-style prompts you may barely squeak the lines out in time, but as you get more used to it you'll get more both in quantity and in quality of your sentences. 

    Save all of your sentences to a "Sentence Calisthenics" document, if you participate for awhile we'll have some bonus exercises that will refer back to these sentences, because sometimes you can't see the gold hiding in plain sight when you've just written something. Having fresh eyes might result in a quick, awesome piece. So, save those sentences!

    WRITE FAST, DON'T OVERTHINK

    Getting into the mindset: Before you start your timer, take a moment and breathe and think about keeping cool during a very hot day (and also during hot nights). Think about the feeling of a hot night, trying to sleep when sweating/covered in sweat or however else you experience a hot night or day. Think both humid and dry heat. Keep thinking of these things in the back of your mind as you're writing and in between sets. By no means should all of your sentences revolve around these things, we just want your mind centered with a few anchors in place before we charge into our piece, DON'T LET THIS DISTRACT YOU FROM YOUR SENTENCES. When you feel set, read the set instructions, appropriate Wordbank, and start that timer. 

    When the timer goes off move on to the next set regardless of if you met the 6 sentence goal, you wrote only 3, or 12—when the timer rings, move along and if you don't hit 6 for one set, do your dangedest to knock out 6 in the next set even if some of them are short or silly or straightforward or even a fragment.

    Set 1: Using the first word bank write six (6) or more sentences which include one of the words and an animal you might find in a zoo. 

    Wordbank 1:
    • Flexed
    • Winking
    • Bloated
    • Scruff
    • Apology
    Set 2: Now write six (6) or more sentences which use two words from that first bank. At least two (2) of the sentences must be fewer than six words. 

    Remember to mark 1-2 favorites for each set.

    Wordbank 2:
    • Humid
    • Olive
    • Fumes
    • Lunch
    • Rarest
    Set 3: Now write six (6) or more sentences which use one word from Wordbank 1 and one from Wordbank 2.

    Set 4:
     Now take a minute to look through this list of 'zoology specialties' and write down at least 5-8 of them. Write at least six (6) sentences which include a word from Wordbank 2 and one of those specialties. 

    You're marking 1-2 favorites, right? Keep doing it.

    Wordbank 3:
    • Spinning
    • Ripe
    • Husk
    • Knotted
    • Glass
    Set 5: Take just 3 minutes now to write as many sentences that use at least two of the words from Wordbank 3 as you can.

    Set 6Now write six (6) sentences that include one word from each of the three wordbanks.

    The Prompting Round-up
    Step 1) Gather up all of your marked favorite lines and pick from those favorites at least three sentences to build your piece around. 
    Step 2) Now that you know the core of your piece, go back up to the un-favorite lines and pick three additional sentences that you must use (even if you 'spruce' them up by tightening or quirking up the language). 
    Step 3) Now you have 6 sentences that are unconnected. You have a large chunk of a jigsaw puzzle but you've lost all the rest of the pieces. So it's time to make those pieces yourself. Make sure your piece has a 'point' or some sort of larger meaning above just the literal narrative/descriptions. Make an observation for better or worse, large, small or teensy tiny even. But, something new, and unique to your brain.

    COMPLETE-A-PIECE 

    If your piece hasn't jumped right out at you, use this 'formula' today using those six sentences. 

    Step 1) First, throw out three of those six sentences that you don't care for as much. Look back at your original full list of sentences and see if any stick out. Sometimes in the rush of things you actually choke out something inadvertently kinda brilliant/interesting. That's the point of rush-rush-rushing. Pushing your brain. Ideally you'll have 4 sentences before you move onto step 2, so if none of those other sentences stick out (tweaks are acceptable of course), grab back one of the sentences you threw out at the beginning of this step, you want at least 3..

    Step 2) Now write a piece which is broken roughly into 1/3s with the first 1/3 including one or two of your sentences and shows the scene of your narrator and a small group waiting in a long line to enter a zoo. 

    Step 3) The second 1/3 should include 1-2 of your sentences and introduce a potential romantic interest for the narrator in a scene where they somehow collide. Give us a scene in which the two exchange at least a few words and an animal makes a loud noise. Pull the 'potential love interest' away before this section ends, they have to part for whatever reason, however connected they feel (or not).

    Step 4) Before moving onto the last section of the piece take a quick look back at your starred list of sentences and see if there's any that would fit in your piece. You want to use this as a little scaffolding for the final chunk, but if you don't find one or two that fit that is fine too. 

    Step 5) The third 1/3 should include your remaining sentences and take place ten years later when the narrator recalls that day at the zoo. Did that meeting lead to anything more? Why did the narrator recall that incident? Are they back at the same zoo, did they see an animal mentioned in the sections? Answer some of our questions and bring it all together (mostly, don't 'tie a bow on it' and over-explain. Let your reader have their own place in determining some of the finer points.

    Step 6) When you're satisfied with the ending, take that knowledge back to the first 1/3 and add in a couple small details, especially imagery, which are in line with that ending. If some specific details are prominent in the end (a quirk or animal, a description or whatever), mention that thing in that first 1/3 in an innocuous or 'fun' way.

    And that's it. You have your piece. This will definitely take longer than ten minutes but may just be worth it.

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    Want some unobtrusive background writing music? Try this "Feel the beauty inside you" lofi mix from who else, but Dreamy.