9/24/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #267: 'Wedding' Multi-Prompt 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.

#267
'Wedding' Multi-Prompt 13
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: Three things exercise: Royal Blue Crayon, Jump Rope, Martini Glass (Published on Notebooking Daily on 11/23/2015, this prompt requires you to use the following 3 things in your piece of writing: Royal Blue Crayon, Jump Rope, Martini Glass).

Something New: Six Word Shootout (include these words in a piece): Hustle, Nipple, Vole, Dial, Foil, Jail

Something Borrowed: 3Elements Literary Review: ISSUE NO. 16 FALL 2017 Peppermint, Breach, Scale (Requirements: Each piece must use the three words Peppermint, Breach and Scale).

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 a person is using Windex (blue) to clean their front window when a small airplane makes an emergency landing right in front of them.

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this: Michael Bierylo Ensemble - Cloud Chorus [Full Album Jazz / Ambient / Minimal Music Cassette 1987]

9/23/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #266: Erasing Roger Ebert 40 "Risky Business"

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.

#266
Erasing Roger Ebert 40 "Risky Business"

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 1983 film "Risky Business" (Four 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. Adolescent Guilt in Other Words
  2. An Ascending Pyramid of Trouble
  3. Perceptive Satires
  4. What to Leave Out
  5. Quirks and Insecurities and a Wayward Ability to Love
  6. Behind the Closed Bathroom Doors of the American Dream
  7. Like a Predictable Sitcom

Erasure Selection:

Roger Ebert's review of "Risky Business" 

"Risky Business" is a movie about male adolescent guilt. In other words, it's a comedy. It's funny because it deals with subjects that are so touchy, so fraught with emotional pain, that unless we laugh there's hardly any way we can deal with them -- especially if we are now, or ever were, a teenage boy.

The teenager in the movie is named Joel. His family lives in a suburb on Chicago's North Shore. It's the sort of family that has three cars: the family station wagon, Mom's car, and Dad's Porsche. As the movie opens, Mom and Dad are going off on vacation to a sun-drenched consumer paradise and their only son, Joel, is being left alone at home. It's a busy time in Joel's life. He's got college board exams, an interview with a Princeton admissions officer, and finals at high school.

It gets to be an even busier time after his parents leave. Joel gets involved in an ascending pyramid of trouble. He calls a number in one of those sex-contact magazines and meets a young hooker who moves into the house. He runs afoul of the girl's pimp. His mother's expensive Steuben egg is stolen. His dad's Porsche ends up in Lake Michigan. The family home turns into a brothel. He blows two finals. And so on.

This description may make "Risky Business" sound like a predictable sitcom. It is not. It is one of the smartest, funniest, most perceptive satires in a long time. It not only invites comparison with "The Graduate," it earns it. Here is a great comedy about teenage sex.

The very best thing about the movie is its dialogue. Paul Brickman, who wrote and directed, has an ear so good that he knows what to leave out. This is one of those movies where a few words or a single line says everything that needs to be said, implies everything that needs to be implied, and gets a laugh. When the hooker tells the kid, "Oh, Joel, go to school. Learn something," the precise inflection of those words defines their relationship for the next three scenes.

The next best thing about the movie is the casting. Rebecca De Mornay somehow manages to take that thankless role, the hooker with a heart of gold, and turn it into a very specific character. She isn't all good and she isn't all clichés: She's a very complicated young woman with quirks and insecurities and a wayward ability to love. I became quietly astounded when I realized that this movie was going to create an original, interesting relationship involving a teenager and a hooker. The teenage kid, in what will be called the Dustin Hoffman role, is played by Tom Cruise, who also knows how to imply a whole world by what he won't say, can't feel, and doesn't understand.

This is a movie of new faces and inspired insights and genuine laughs. It's hard to make a good movie and harder to make a good comedy and almost impossible to make a satire of such popular but mysterious obsessions as guilt, greed, lust, and secrecy. This movie knows what goes on behind the closed bathroom doors of the American dream.

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If you'd like some background music, try this "Star Wars" lofi mix.
 

9/22/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #265: Three Things, Five Words 24

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.

#265
Three Things, Five Words 24
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. Alaska
  2. Black Pepper
  3. Teal
'Five Words' 
Include these five words in your piece: 
Rove, Egg, Spite, Waxy, Platitudes.

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try Coleman Hawkins - Soul (1960).

9/21/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #264: Beginning, Middle & End 25

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.

#264
Beginning, Middle & End 25

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 large protest.

Somewhere in the middle: An ice cream truck is heard (and maybe seen).

End WithA Volcano.

Extra Credit RequirementsYour title or first line must include the word "Explode", and you should include the following five words: Pent-up, Fluctuating, Rush, Aisles, Kettle.

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If you'd like some background writing music try this "It's 3am. Why so sad ?" lofi mix.

9/20/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #263: First Line Bonanza 22

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.

#263
First Line Bonanza 22

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

1) He had once tried to imagine just how many dollar bills a billion would be but he stopped when his house had filled with imaginary money still in the ten millions.
2) Three on the left, he thought once more before rising to his feet.
3) The small creek hardly warranted a bridge these days, but once it was almost worth being called an actual river.
4) Fools, she thought.
5) There would be the inevitable rush of adrenaline when things started, but for now the small room vibrated with an uncanny calmness.
6) We well-knew the steady clip of bootheels in step.

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Bonus 'constraint': You must include a paragraph/stanza in which the all sentences or lines begin with the letter "L".
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If you'd like some background music to write to, try jazz saxophonist Dexter Gordon's 1961 album "Doin' Alright".

9/19/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #262: Ekphrastic Fantastic 22

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.

#262
Ekphrastic Fantastic 22

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 old bike stair-ride picture titled "A Perilous Ride" performed and photographed by the Platt Brothers in 1880.


Image 2:  This Portrait of Sid Catlett, New York, N.Y., ca. Mar. 1947 photographed by William Gottlieb. Catlett had just caught a flying drumstick as the picture was taken.


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How do these two images play off of each other in your mind? Are the drummer and rider existing in the same time period? Are the two childhood friends now adults? 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! And always remember that if you're onto gold—run with it.

You got this!
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If you'd like background writing music, try the 1973 album "Gentleman" by the Nigerian father of afrobeat Fela Kuli.

9/18/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #261: How to... 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.

#261
How to... 19

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 toRaise a Daughter.

Extra Credit RequirementsYour piece must include a skyscraper, and the words "Manual" "Magic" "Glittering" "Humble" and "Snip".

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If you'd like some background music try Dexter Gordon's album "The Art of the Ballad".

9/17/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #260: Dueling Six Word Shootout 23

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.

#260
Dueling Six Word Shootout 23
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) Feeble 
2) Kilo
3) Beetle 
4) Seal 
5)  Wheel
6) Cheetoh 

Set 2:
7) Tuxedo
8) Beagle 
9) Keno 
10) Ego
11) Heel
12) Needle

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Bonus Exercise: If that's not enough, also include the following three things: Pablo Picasso, An Iceberg, and A Spoon.
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If you'd like some background music to write to, try Kenny Burrell's album "Stolen Moments".

9/16/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #259 Micro 101 Episode 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.

#259
Micro 101 Episode 17

For today's writing exercise you will write a few micro-poems or micro-fictions. These will be either poems under 20 lines or stories under 200 words.

For inspiration go read some micro or hint fiction in this Buzzfeed article, at Microfiction MondayAlbaMolecule50 Word Stories and Nanoism. Or also this Barnstorm blog post "How Microfiction Could Transform Social Media".

Read the full prompt twice before you start writing, because you're looking to keep it minimal, so have ideas. If your first draft is longer don't fret. Hone it down. And the piece will be what it is. I've started out with a goal of 100 words but hit on something and had to cull the end result from 1350 to 1200 for a contest because I loved the result. So each story will be its own beast, but we're ideally aiming for 20 lines or 100-200 words with these.

Micro Exercise 1: Bad Trip 1. In a very brief piece, tell of a person's vacation that is terrible via four increasingly bad incidents, begin with an 'omen' before the trip even starts.
Micro Exercise 2: Bad Trip 2. Write a very short piece in which a narrator trips at the very top of a set of stairs, the whole piece taking place in that person's head quickly before they actually hit the stairs. 
Micro Exercise 3: Elevator. Write a micro piece in which someone believes the elevator they're in is about to plummet.
Micro Exercise 4:  The Piano LessonWrite a micro piece in which a character takes their first and only piano lesson. Be sure to tell us why they never have another, and if they're happy or sad about that (or indifferent).
Micro Exercise 5: Elevator 2: Slipstream. Write a very short piece in which someone enters an elevator that takes them somewhere extremely unexpected (and impossible in a normal world). Even if the narrator/main character is surprised by where they end up, it should seem expected to at least one other person. 
Micro Exercise 6: Bad Trip 3. Write a very short piece in which someone takes care of a stranger who is disoriented (whether on drugs, having a mental break, post-accident/injury etc, you decide) somewhere very public. Include at least one note of potential danger to either the caretaker or both the stranger and the caretaker.

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try jazz saxophonist Dexter Gordon's 1975 "Tangerine".

9/15/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #258: Title Mania "Attract" 23

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.

#258
Title Mania "Attract" 23

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. Suckered-in by the Roadside Attraction
  2. Mutual Attraction
  3. Attracted to 
  4. One That Attracts 
  5. We Attract the Worst Type
  6. On Track for Attraction
  7. Gradually Attracting
Bonus Exercise: Three Things
(Your piece must also include the following three 'things', if you choose this option)
  1. Navel Piercing
  2.  Hummus
  3. Go-Karts
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If you'd like some background music try "The Mellow Sound of Dexter Gordon".

9/14/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #257: Erasing Roger Ebert 39 "The Sword and the Sorcerer"

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.

#257
Erasing Roger Ebert 39 "The Sword and the Sorcerer"

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 1982 film "The Sword and the Sorcerer" (Half a Star).

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 Ideakit *
  2. A Lot of Blades
  3. On a Quadruple Bill
  4. Medieval Swashbucklers
  5. Bizarre Panoply
  6. Out in the Rain
  7. Little Turns of Speech and Identity**


*Yes, Ideakit as one word. As in, an 'idea' that can be put together from a set of predetermined parts, like a model or paint-by-numbers but with an 'idea'
** In the review it's identities, but I thought this was a good title so, hence the very small tweak, use the original if you prefer.

Erasure Selection:

Roger Ebert's review of "The Sword and the Sorcerer" 

This movie sure looks great, but I'm not sure I could pass a quiz on what it's about. Maybe it doesn't matter. "The Sword and the Sorcerer" is basically an Identikit movie, in which they start out with a lot of different faces and end up with the usual suspects. We may not be sure precisely what the power relationships are in the movie, but we know there's a young hero and an old king, an ancient villain and a maiden in peril.

There are also a lot of blades in this movie, Also dungeons, passageways, cold roast legs of beef, eyes that glow like embers and a three-pronged sword that holds the key to the kingdom. The movie drips with atmosphere, and I guess atmosphere is what Sword & Sorcery movies are about. They sure aren't about character.

Let's see. So far in the last year, I've seen "Dragonslayer," "Excalibur," and a preview of "Conan the Barbarian." Put them on a quadruple bill with "The Sword and the Sorcerer," and you'd sometimes have trouble figuring out when one ended and the next began.

That's not to say they're necessarily bad; I sort of enjoy medieval swashbucklers. It's just that there are only so many variations you can play on muscles and broadswords, lusty heroes and busty heroines, bearded kings, bizarre panoply, and that old standby, the storming of the citadel.

To give credit where it's due, "The Sword and the Sorcerer" does have two areas of relative originality: Its sword, and its sorcerer. I already mentioned that the sword is three-pronged. That's not all. It has the ability to hurl two of its blades like a spear-gun, and it has a dagger hidden in its handle (it must have been designed by James Bond's munitions man).

The sorcerer is a triumph of makeup, a Incredibly evil old man with a voice from the bottom of a well and a face that looks like somebody left the hot tar out in the rain. I also enjoyed Kathleen Beller's presence as the heroine; she behaves more intelligently than the usual actress asked to pant and heave through these movies, and her character has a neat weapon previously not much used in S&S epics, a knee to the groin.

But when the movie was over, I really wasn't much moved. "The Sword and the Sorcerer" is so dominated by its special effects, its settings and locations, that it doesn't care much about character. It trots its people onscreen, gives them names and labels, and puts them through their paces.

That's not enough. If a filmmaker would just take the time to provide human quirks and foibles for his S&S characters, to give them nice little turns of speech and Identities that we could tell apart and care about, this kind of movie could really be fun. Actually, one filmmaker has done exactly that, only his swords and sorcerers were set in the future: George Lucas, with the "Star Wars" movies.

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If you'd like some background music, try "Near Autumn".
 

9/13/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #256: Three Things, Five Words 23

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.

#256
Three Things, Five Words 23
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. The Prodigal Son
  2. Spaghetti
  3. A Funnel
'Five Words' 
Include these five words in your piece: 
Ogling, Erroneous, Watts, Quilted, Vie.

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try Coleman Hawkins - At Ease With Coleman Hawkins.

9/12/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #255: Beginning, Middle & End 24

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.

#255
Beginning, Middle & End 24

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 WithTwo turtles 'racing'.

Somewhere in the middle: A river floods.

End WithA flowerbed being walked through (trampled upon).

Extra Credit RequirementsYour title or first line must include the word "Crushed", and you should include the following five words: Volley, Gully, Flair, Firefly, Box.

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If you'd like some background writing music try this "Raining day" lofi mix.

9/11/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #254: First Line Bonanza 21

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.

#254
First Line Bonanza 21

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

1) The sedan slid to a stop just behind our bikes.
2) "Any time, any place" was more than just a casual phrase around Lakewood.
3) We broke a stick into pieces small enough to conceal in a closed palm and chose sides.
4) Five thousand and seven individual human beings.
5) I had boosted her onto my shoulders, but she still couldn't see.
6) Someone threw a brick—someone else, a bomb.

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Bonus 'constraint': You must include a paragraph/stanza in which the all sentences or lines begin with the letter "P".
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If you'd like some background music to write to, try jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal's 1970 album "The Awakening".

9/10/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #253: 'Wedding' Multi-Prompt 12

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.

#253
'Wedding' Multi-Prompt 12
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: Fall Writing Exercise Series #64: 3x5x10+ Wordbank 10 (Published on Notebooking Daily on 11/3/2019, this prompt is similar to our current 'sentence calisthenics' prompts, in that there are wordbanks, and your goal is to first pump out a large number of 'sprint' sentences using those words, and then write a piece from a prompt using a few of those sentences. The prompt, however, is much less detailed, more open-ended).

Something New: Six Word Shootout (include these words in a piece): Rife, Rice, Cries, Rise, Ripe, Deride

Something Borrowed: Furious Fiction August 2019 Challenge (Requirements: Each story had to include, word for word, ALL of the following SIX descriptions: "SHINY, SILVER", "COLD AND GREASY", "SCRATCHED AND WEATHER-WORN", "SWEET AND PUNGENT", "INK-STAINED", "SHRILL, PIERCING" One of these six descriptions had to appear in the first sentence of each story.). While this  was originally a fiction prompt, as you can see it works very well for poetry as well!

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 a person in a blue dress drastically changes the course of your narrator's evening (and life) because of a simple gesture—whether that gesture is interpreted correctly or incorrectly by your narrator is up to you.

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Star Wars Lofi 2" ...Lofi mix.

9/9/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #252 My Mother Said Anaphora—Repetition Files 16

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.

#252
My Mother Said Anaphora—Repetition Files 16

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:

"My mother said" 

    This prompt is in honor of the wonderful and hilarious poet Hal Sirowitz, whose series of books includes My Mother Says, My Therapist Says and others. 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 "Heraldry" "Chatter" "Digging" "Jolt" and "Slapped".
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    If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "I Still Love You" lofi mix.

    9/8/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #251: How to... 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.

    #251
    How to... 18

    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 toDivide by Zero.

    Extra Credit RequirementsYour piece must include a baseball bat (or stick used to hit things), and the words "Numerous" "Chomp" "Dumbly" "Doubted" and "Salamander".

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    If you'd like some background music try this The Garden Lofi HipHop Mix

    9/7/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #250: Ekphrastic Fantastic 21

    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.

    #250
    Ekphrastic Fantastic 21

    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 Photo by Madison O'Friel on Unsplash


    Image 2:  This 1875 print titled "Educated Dogs".


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    How do these two images play off of each other in your mind? Are these two images happening at the same time, is the man reading to the dogs the painter's ancestor, someone who lived on the same block but much earlier, is he the imagination of the painter? 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! And always remember that if you're onto gold—run with it.

    You got this!
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    If you'd like background writing music, try this "4AM Study Session" lofi mix.

    9/6/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #249: Between a Fact and an Exact Place 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. 

    #249
    Between a Fact and an Exact Place 17

    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).


    As an additional assignment, should you choose to incorporate it, is as follows: Also include the words "Roof" "Piles" "Trigger" "Shielded" and "Yellow".

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    If you'd like some background music to write to, try this 'Easter mood' lofi playlist

    9/5/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #248: Erasing Roger Ebert 38 "Hairspray"

    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.

    #248
    Erasing Roger Ebert 38 "Hairspray"

    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 1988 film "Hairspray" (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. Ducktails and Ponytails
    2. Long-Ago Afternoons
    3. Mid-Stream Rock
    4. A Quasi-Democratic Board of Teenagers
    5. The Decivilizing ‘80s
    6. A Bubble-Headed Series of Teenage Crises and Crushes
    7. The Trash Heap of Teenage History
    8. Never in a Million Years


    Erasure Selection:

    Roger Ebert's review of "Hairspray" 

    “If you remember the ‘60s, you weren’t there.” - Dennis Hopper Yeah, but those were the late ‘60s. Everybody remembers the early ‘60s, that season of innocence when a man could be named Chubby Checker and yet still be a star. The early ‘60s were before the Beatles, LSD, Vietnam and hippies. They were in fact a lot like the late ‘50s, except that the cars were not as stylish and people were joining the Peace Corps, and, in every town large enough to support a TV station, there was a version of “The Hop.” “The Hop” was the name of the show on Channel 3 in Champaign-Urbana, where I grew up. It had other names in other towns, but it always had the same format: a studio full of pimply faced teenagers in ducktails and ponytails, pumping away to midstream rock music under the benevolent supervision of the local Dick Clark clone.

    Everybody I knew watched “The Hop.” Nobody I knew ever appeared on it. Where did they get these kids? Did they hire professional teenagers from other towns? Nobody I knew dressed as cool or danced as well as the kids on “The Hop,” and there was a sinking feeling, on those long-ago afternoons in front of the TV, that the parade had passed me by.

    John Waters’ “Hairspray” is a movie about that time and those kids and the sinking feeling. It takes place in 1962 in Baltimore, where a program known as “The Corny Collins Show” is at the center of many local teenage fantasies. The kids on Corny’s show are great dancers with hair piled in grotesque mounds atop their unformed little faces.

    They are “popular.” They are on the Council, a quasi-democratic board of teenagers who advise Corny on matters of music and supervise auditions for kids who want to be on the show.

    One kid who hungers to be on the show is Tracy (Ricki Lake), who is fat, but who can dance better than Amber (Colleen Fitzpatrick), who is not. Tracy dances in front of her TV set and knows all the right movies and is tolerated in her fantasies by her parents, who are played by Jerry Stiller and Divine.

    The plot of the movie loosely involves Tracy’s attempts to win a talent show and win a place on the Council and the attempts made to stop her by Amber and her ambitious parents (Sonny Bono and Debbie Harry). It is some kind of commentary on the decivilizing ‘80s that Stiller and Divine and Bono and Harry, who would have qualified as sideshow exhibits in the real ‘60s, look in the context of this movie like plausible parents.

    The supporting case includes various local weirdos, including Pia Zadora as a “Beatnik Chick” (I quote from the credits). If noth ing else is worth the price of admission to this movie, perhaps you will be persuaded by the prospect of Zadora reading from Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl.” The movie carries a social message as sort of a sideline: “The Corny Collins Show” is racially segregated, and Tracy and her black friends help to change that situation, gate-crashing a Corny Collins day at the local amusement park. But basically the movie is a bubble-headed series of teenage crises and crushes, alternating with historically accurate choreography of such forgotten dances as the Madison and the Roach.

    The movie probably has the most to say to people who were teenagers in the early ‘60s, but they are, I suppose, the people least likely to see this movie. It also will appeal to today’s teenagers, who will find that every generation has its own version of Corny Collins, and its own version of the Council, designed to make you feel like a worthless reject on the trash heap of teenage history. If there is a message in the movie, it is that Waters, who could never in a million years have made the Council, did, after all, survive to make the movie.

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    If you'd like some background music, try "Good mood lofi".