16 Jul

Writing Through the Senses: Taste (Part 2)

Posted in Writing Exercises, Writing Through The Senses

…and we’re back.  Today we’re still talking about taste but instead of using eating as a metaphor, we’ll be focusing on having fun with words.

Taste Part 2: Playing With Our Food… I mean, Words

One of my favorite genres is parody.  I find it so much fun to read and a great challenge to write.  I’m sure you all know what parody is, but here’s a quick definition.

parody: n.  An imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect.  Parody mercilessly exposes the tricks of manner and thought of its victim and therefore cannot be written without a thorough appreciation of the work it ridicules.

An example of a poetic parody is Lewis Carroll’s The Crocodile, which is a parody of Isaac Watts’ How Doth the Little Busy Bee.  The Carroll poem appears in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, when Alice tries to recite the Watts poem but “The Crocodile” comes out instead.

Jack & Jill Writing Exercise:  Today the writing exercise involves “playing with our food” by writing parody.  Write a short scene or collection of scenes in which you recount the events of the nursery rhyme Jack & Jill in the style of a famous author.  After you’ve written your piece, you can check out a piece I wrote with this exercise by going here.

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14 Jul

Writing Through the Senses: Taste (Part 1)

Posted in Writing Exercises, Writing Through The Senses

Hello everyone!  Today’s topic is taste and we’ll be adding some playfulness to our writing.  Because this is such a fun topic, I’ve decided to split it into two parts.  I’ll post Part 1 now and Part 2 on Friday (because I have something else planned for tomorrow).

Taste Part 1: Food as Metaphor

First we’ll start with a feast of words:
How to Eat a Poem by Eve Merriam
Eating Poetry by Mark Strand.

I love reading these poems back-to-back because while they are dramatically different, they both use eating as a metaphor for reading poetry.  The Merriam poem is very visual and almost literal in its description of eating poetry, while the Strand poem is a bit more abstract, but fascinating nonetheless.  In the latter, we see the contrast between the visceral relationship the speaker has with the poems and the librarian’s reaction as she tries to maintain order.  I read this poem almost as a manifesto for enjoyment of poetry and not letting conventions and rules get in the way.

What do you think about these poems?  Did one of them speak to you more than the other?

Writing Exercise: Write a short piece (prose or poetry, either is fine) using one of the following titles:

  1. How to Eat a _______________
  2. Eating ____________________
  3. Recipe for _________________

You can fill in the blank with anything you wish, though I encourage you to try using something that is not normally edible.  Have fun with this!


07 Jul

Writing Through the Senses: Touch

Posted in Writing Exercises, Writing Through The Senses

Hello again.  I hope you all had a good week.  Today we’ll be talking about touch and how ordinary objects can become extraordinary when described through this sense.

First a poem by Wallace Stevens:  Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

Isn’t it lovely how such simple images can take an ordinary thing like a blackbird and make it into something so beautiful?  Which is your favorite of the thirteen?  Mine is:


He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

Ordinary Objects Exercise:  Take an ordinary object from your desk (a pencil or pen, paper clip, eraser, etc.) and close your eyes.  Study it with your eyes closed, trying not to focus on what you know the object is, but on how the object feels.

After memorizing the object for a few minutes, set it aside and write a short paragraph or two describing the object but using only the things you memorized through your sense of touch.  You can use metaphors and similes but try not to use any of the other senses.  Note how the sense of touch transforms the object into something new and different.


30 Jun

Writing Through the Senses: Sight

Posted in Writing Exercises, Writing Through The Senses

 Welcome back everyone!  I hope you enjoyed last week’s exercises.  Today we’ll be talking about sight and how colors, shapes and everyday objects help spark a story.  Let’s dive in, shall we?

Faces Exercise:   Below you’ll see four objects that look like faces.  Choose one of the faces and create a human character that fits the personality of the picture.  Answer the following questions about your character.  (Remember, your character isn’t the inanimate object in the picture; your character is a human who’s personality is inspired by the image you selected below.)

Let’s start with the basics…

  • Is your character male or female?
  • How old is your character?
  • Where does your character live?
  • What is your character’s occupation?
  • Who’s in your character’s family?
  • Does your character have a pet?
  • What’s your character’s favorite color?
 Next let’s dig a little deeper…
  • What’s your character’s greatest fear?
  • Does your character have a secret?
  • Who is your character’s nemesis?
  • What does your character want most in the world?  Why?

Finally, give your character a name.

    Now that we have a character, let’s put him/her in a situation.  Pick a number between 1 and 5.  Don’t click on the number just yet.

    The situation is as follows: your character is stuck in a place.  He/she isn’t helplessly stuck (i.e. the character can leave if he/she so chooses) but something is keeping the character there.  What that something might be is completely up to you.

    Remember that number you selected?  Click it now.  This is your place.


    Write the scene that unfolds.  Use cues and details in the picture to bring the situation to life.  And don’t forget to have fun!


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