Writing Prompt Pit Stop

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! This week marked the autumnal equinox on September 22 (my birthday!) at 4:44 P.M., or as a lot of people call it – the beginning of Fall.  Fall happens to be my favorite time of year, and not because of the reason previously mentioned in parentheses. I love the warm days and cool nights – sweatshirt and jeans weather; I love football, I also love the way the light changes – do you ever notice the difference in how the shadows fall? Or how the sunlight hits the houses right at dusk around this time of year?  When it was legal (around these parts) I loved the smell of burning leaves. As a child I loved those leaves raked in a pile, and then the chance to go jump in them and giggle with my neighborhood friends. I suppose kids still like to do things like that? I just saw a video clip on World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer the other evening that was of a dog enjoying a big pile of leaves. That Husky was still having some “old-fashioned” fun.

In addition, Fall used to mean back-to-school, at least we made it to September and after Labor Day – so one could associate school clothes with the cooler weather instead of how students today that need to wear lighter clothes because they’re going to school in the heat of August (and in some places year around). Fall also means apple cider, pumpkin pie, and the leaves changing color:

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The season not only gives us football, but it marks the World Series, and before Winter gets here – so does basketball. And if that weren’t enough excitement there’s the “Fall” Holidays: Halloween and Thanksgiving. I imagine by now you’re starting to guess where the I’m leading you with the prompt this week. If you guessed you’re going to write about Autumn/Fall, then you’re right on target. Here’s prompt fourteen:

“Falling for Autumn”

1) Think about some of the autumns of your childhood. What was it like in your classroom? What did the air smell like? Who were your friends? What outfit could you not wait to wear back-to-school?  What games did you play outside? Were you able to stay out until the streetlights came on? What were some of the sounds of autumn back then? What are some of the sounds you notice now? Are they the same or are they different? You can continue thinking about autumns of your life – what was high school like? Did your school get to have bonfires? What about Homecoming? Fall dances? After high school was it college or marriage? Either way you can just go through and make lists of different memories of Autumn/Fall in your daybook. As always, you can write on each memory that comes to mind for 10 minutes or until you exhaust the memory.

2) After you have some memories written in your daybook, then you’re ready to start mining your writing for poems or stories, plays or memoir. Whatever your genre of choice is Fall, as any season, can give you so much to write about. I believe I’ve mentioned before that I don’t believe in writer’s block – there’s always something to write about…even if it doesn’t seem exciting at first. If you stick with it, the good stuff will come. Have patience with yourself.

3) Don’t hesitate to take some of your own memories and give them to a fictional character – sometimes they can take those memories and turn them in a way that you didn’t, or couldn’t, if you stick with writing a memoir. Again, it’s up to you as to how you handle your subject matter…after all, you’re the writer!

4) After you’ve written that story or poem, or one of the other genres – see what you can do to pare it down, or add to your work (if needed), and then as always: revise, revise, revise…and when you think you’re done revising…do it one more time!

As with the other prompts, I believe you will find that this works well with whatever genre you choose!

As with all writing, writing about “Fall” should be fun! And I remind you that if you ever want to share any successes or attempts that you get from these prompts, don’t hesitate to let me know. You can contact me here.

Look for another prompt next Wednesday! Until then, keep writing!

Lylanne

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Writing Prompt Pit Stop

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! The last five weeks we’ve been dealing with the five senses and how they work into writing by helping us be more aware of our surroundings and how we recreate those images in our writing. Your senses and images will always play a huge role in any good, energetic piece of creative writing. With that said we’re going to move on to just some good old fashion prompt ideas, but not forgetting to use our keen sense of observation.

We live in a culture that is all about fame. For me it started out when I was in 2nd grade and a small group called The Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan. I was hooked. Then as I continued growing older I was aware of how much attention got paid to all of these musicians, whether they be solo acts like Janis Joplin or Neil Diamond, or other groups such as The Monkees, Sonny and Cher, or The Doors.

Now we have television shows devoted to becoming famous singers, first it was American Idol, and we have offshoots like The Voice and America’s Got Talent. Another avenue to fame was to be on a popular TV show such as The Mod Squad, or Mary Tyler Moore, Cosby, Saved by the Bell, etc. Then somewhere along the way our culture has gotten obsessed with people that are famous for being famous – Paris Hilton comes to mind, and then of course The Kardashians.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m working on a poetry memoir that deals with my childhood. In that manuscript I’ve got several poems that play off of this idea of being “famous,” in some way. I have a poem “I Wanted to Be a Beatle” that is a crowd pleaser when I share it at readings, and my poem “At Grandma’s House” that was included in Ichabod’s Sketchbook, has a stanza in there about my cousin, Gina, pretending to be Julie, and me always being Pete, from The Mod Squad.  Obviously, this fame thing was something as a child that I aspired to…and I venture to guess that all of you have some similar stories as well. So with this in mind, here is your thirteenth prompt:

“Chasing Fame”

1) Sit down with your daybook and write about a time that you wanted to be famous. Who did you want to be? Maybe it wasn’t a specific person, but maybe there was a profession that you knew would make you famous: An astronaut, an artist, a writer, president, a fireman, etc. You may have daydreamed about more than one, and that’s okay – write about them all. Take 10 minutes and write on one, or until you’ve exhausted that topic. Then do the same with another, until you have plenty of writings to work with.

2) Take a character that you’re working with in a story, flesh out a time in that character’s life when they wanted to be famous. This can give you some depth into a character that you didn’t even realize was there. Again, think of your character and then write on this for 10 minutes or until you can’t think of anything else.

3) Now with your writings from 1 & 2 in hand, take some time and decide what you want to utilize – is this a fiction piece, a poem, etc. and then write that. You might even mix it up a bit and try it in another genre you don’t normally work with. Give yourself permission to play!

4) After you’ve written that poem, or one of the other genres – see what you can do to pare down, or add to your work (if needed), and then as always: revise, revise, revise…and when you think you’re done revising…do it one more time!

As with the other prompts, I believe you will find that this works well with whatever genre you choose!

As with all writing, “Chasing Fame” should be fun! And I remind you that if you ever want to share any successes or attempts that you get from these prompts, don’t hesitate to let me know. You can contact me here.

Look for another prompt next Wednesday! Until then, keep writing!

Lylanne

Writing Prompt Pit Stop

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! This week we will be taking a look at the fifth sense – touch. So far we’ve looked at how the senses: sight, sound, smell, and taste can be worked into your writing to make it more vivid, and open up some images that will make your work soar that you might not have thought of otherwise. 

So how can we make touch work for us in our writing? Well, when you imagine what a fluffy kitten feels like and you use that image as a description in your work that would be one way.  You could take that image and make it a line of a poem, or description in your story. Another would be to imagine what it’s like to touch your lover’s skin, and what sensations can be described from that one stroke, or the electricity that comes from holding one another’s hand. In addition, most of us know what it’s like to hold a newborn baby, whether in the capacity of mother or father, sister or brother, or family member or friend – it’s cliché now to speak of  something being as “smooth as a baby’s butt” or “soft as a newborn baby’s skin,” but you could take that image – remembering what that touch feels like to you, and create a unique image in your writing based on that touch.

Just like with all of the other senses, there can be disconcerting images that comes from touch.  And those images can certainly conjure up some good writing! Isn’t it odd how sometimes the worst images can make for the most vivid writing? It’s not always true, but it is something else to ponder. What might be some bad images that fall under touch? Maybe it’s a slap or a punch from someone in the heat of the moment – that certainly is a “bad touch.” Have you ever reached into a microwave to grab a coffee mug and burnt yourself? That’s not a good touch either.

Maybe you’ve been in a creative writing class or at a party where there’s that game/activity where you’re blindfolded and then asked to touch certain objects and guess what they are (at a party) or describe what you’re touching (creative writing class) – you can perhaps touch spaghetti that, by touch alone, feels like you’ve just put your hands into a bowl full of worms, or maybe your mind goes elsewhere! Or maybe there are olives in a pan and you feel like you’re touching eyeballs…or again, maybe this touch of “slimy and slick” evokes some other feeling….

Depending on whether you like to be tickled or not, that can certainly evoke some sensations that are delivered to us through touch.

We associate touch with our hands, but there are certainly other ways of touching: with full body hugs, with cuddling, with our noses, with our tongues; what about our feet – that soft grass between our toes? Well, you get the picture – anyplace that we have nerve endings and skin is pretty much fair game for our sense of touch. With that said, here’s your twelfth prompt:

“Getting all “Touchy Feel-y!”

1) Start being more conscious of what you touch and how it feels. What does that pen you’re holding really feel like? What does your dog licking your face feel like? In your daybook make a list of things that you touch everyday…and don’t notice at all. Now show what it feels like.

2) What are you conscious of? On another page of your daybook, or in another column, make a list of things that you touch every day and you do notice – maybe that good morning kiss, maybe the cat rubbing your leg, maybe you grabbed for the microwave popcorn a little too soon this afternoon…be aware of your surroundings. Write those sensations down.

3) After you have your lists generated, pick out the one you like best and write for 10 minutes or until you exhaust the topic. Then, if your first touch was a good one – look at the list, what is something that makes you go “Ewww?” Take that one and write on it for 10 minutes or until the topic is exhausted.

4) When you’ve found the “touch” that gives you the most energy – find a way to make it into a poem, work it into your short story, flash fiction, play, or creative nonfiction piece. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the interesting writing that you’ll get by just being more aware of touch…and how it will energize whatever it is you’re writing.

5) After you’ve written that poem, or one of the other genres – see what you can do to pare down, or add to your work (if needed), and then as always: revise, revise, revise…and when you think you’re done revising…do it one more time! 

As with the other prompts, I believe you will find that this works well with whatever genre you choose!

As with all writing, this “touchy” subject should be fun! And I remind you that if you ever want to share any successes or attempts that you get from these prompts, don’t hesitate to let me know. You can contact me here.

Look for another prompt next Wednesday! Until then, keep writing!

Lylanne

Writing Prompt Pit Stop

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! For the past three weeks we’ve been working with our senses, being more observant through sight, sound, and smell – which leaves us with two more: taste, and touch. This week we’re going to explore how our taste buds can help our writing become more vivid.

You might ask: how can I write about what I taste? A taste is sometimes so hard to describe…you know, that’s why we hear that so many new things we try “taste like chicken.” Have you ever given much thought as to what chicken truly tastes like? How do we know? Does each of us taste the same thing when we eat chicken? All good questions to ponder – and we probably have a variety of answers.

And what about texture? That seems like something that would fall under the touch category, yet when we eat something do we associate the texture along with the taste? Maybe you don’t. But I certainly do – a lot of my least favorite foods, like hominy or anchovies, are associated with their texture which makes me not like the taste…so if I try a new food and it tastes close to hominy or anchovies I won’t like it, even if the texture is totally different. I can attribute that dislike to a matter of “taste” even though it’s truly just my personal taste. Do you ever think about how we use the word “taste?” I guess this is my week to ask questions of you, huh? As long as the questions make you think and engage, it’s all good – so don’t hesitate to ask questions in your poems, stories, essays – and you don’t even have to answer those questions (which is actually okay in creative writing!) as long as it leaves your audience to ponder or engage with your work. I digress.

So back to taste. If you can describe in your poem how a prickly pear margarita tastes; in your short story how your character loves the taste of red hots and peanuts mixed together, or when writing an essay/review on a restaurant’s bacon and chocolate cheesecake or a recipe on some crock pot taco soup, you’re giving your audience something to connect with. In addition, because we’re all so in tune with food all you have to do is simply write the word “bacon” or “strawberry” and our taste buds are already right there – especially if it’s a food or a taste that we really enjoy.

By the same token, just like smell, some of the more sickening tastes are ones that leave a lasting impression. Maybe you were someone as a child that was made to eat soap, or had to take some nasty medicine: caster oil, Pepto-Bismol, or Declomycin; some hate the taste of coffee (although I can’t imagine it!) or can’t stand the taste of brussel sprouts. You can probably supply your own laundry list of foods you turn away because you hate the taste, or as I was saying before – because you love the taste. Again, any of these images can conjure up vivid images for your audiences (can you think of a favorite novel, short story, or poem that uses taste in this way?).

With these ideas in mind, get your taste buds working and use your eleventh prompt:

“Show ’em You’ve Got Taste!”

1) At your next meal, snack, or dessert make special notice of the way each food tastes. How can you describe what you’re tasting in your writing? Is something sweet, salty, tart, smoky, sour, etc.? Think about how foods are advertised to us, or what about how foods are targeted to millennials vs. baby boomers that identify with foods depicted in the show Mad Men? What word choices do they make that attract us to those foods? Make a list in your daybook of all tastes, and word choices that conjure up good (or bad) images in your mind. If they do that for you, they probably will for your audience.

2) Think of the best meal you’ve ever had, or the worst food you ever tasted. What about your favorite pizza? What makes it taste better than all of the other pizzas? How can you describe this to your audience? Take ten minutes and write about one of these ideas or write until your “taste” for the idea runs dry.

3) When you have a fair amount of writing generated by taste – mine through your work and decide how you can best use some of your descriptions or images. Do you have a poem about the best ice cream sundae you ever ate? Does it make sense that the character that you’ve been developing loves black licorice? Do you have an essay that revolves around that Thanksgiving when mom forgot to buy a turkey, there was no ham left at the grocery to buy, and you ended up having the best chili you ever tasted in your life? You see how once you get to writing, and have a list of things to work with you can come up with those “endless possibilities?”

4) As always, tweak your work, add/delete – keep your best stuff and then revise, revise, revise! Then when you think you’re done revising – revise again!!

As with all writing, this “taste test” should be fun! And I remind you that if you ever want to share any successes or attempts that you get from these prompts, don’t hesitate to let me know. You can contact me here.

Look for another prompt next Wednesday! Until then, keep writing!

Lylanne