From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Writing Prompts/Assignments

In one of my creative writing classes this semester, we've been given specific creative writing assignments. Regardless of what you turn out, I think its a useful exercise for stretching yourself and your writing, so I thought I'd post some of the assignments here, full credit given to Dr. Lance Larsen.

-How To: Write a piece in a second person following these guidelines. First, give specific instruction or advice on a recognizable subject, such as how to see a ghost at night, change a car tire, get over a breakup, etc. Second, be sure that your piece violates its own purpose or otherwise wanders far afield. A piece on shooting free throws might end up rhapsodizing about interior weather patterns or complaining about love. The piece should be paradoxical and enticing and arrive at wisdom. Example: "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid.

My piece was called How to Eat Cold Cereal, and ended up being about how cold cereal will always be there even when you have no one and nothing else to turn to. Still heavily in need of revision, but once thats done I'll send it out or maybe post it here.

-Ekphrastic: Write a piece (probably a poem) that describes a black-and-white photograph, detail by detail, and in the process discovers a conflict not apparent at first glance. This might include proposing a narrative of your own devising. Your poem should be clear enough that it doesn't require the original photograph to make sense. Almost any kind of picture will do: documentary, family snapshot, postcard, artistic masterpiece. Why does a given photograph disturb, intrigue, or entertain you? A good ekphrastic poem will set up a problem or spring a trap.

My piece was on Fox Terrier on the Pont D'art by Robert Doisneau. His photographs provide wonderful inspiration for ekphrastic pieces, actually.

-Dialogue: Write a piece that relies predominantly on dialogue. The language must be concrete and lyrical. You might construct some kind if Q & A. The key here is that you strategically use the gaps between voices.

My piece was called Cross-Eyed and was about two sisters on a drive to the airport arguing over what to do with their senile father.

Hope that helps! I'd love to hear about how you've used these assignments and what you've come up with.

Sarah Allen

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