Tag Archives: freewrite

Tuesday Tryouts: More Than a Comparison

8:20 am, Tuesday, 8 February, 2011 – Atlanta

Today, I would like you to do two final metaphors and, for the purpose of Thursday’s discussion of parts of speech, turn one of these pieces into a poem [unless you wrote right into one].


Describe a building as seen by a man whose son has just died in a war.
Do not mention the son, war, death, or the old man doing the seeing.

Freewrite in prose (or poetry if you have been inspired in that direction).

In order to accomplish the prompt, what did you have to do? Articulate it to yourself.

Creating a metaphor
simile: indirect comparison? metaphor: direct comparison?
NO! A metaphor provides the identification of two unlike things.
where a simile compares two things which are similar in nature.

Metaphor: from the Greek metafora: to transfer to. When using a metaphor, you are transferring the properties of one thing to another:  “Juliet is the sun”. Not Juliet is like the sun, hot, bright, yellow…but Juliet IS the sun, the centre of Romeo’s universe, the giver of life and nurture.


Describe a lake, or other natural scene, as seen by a teenager who has just killed someone.
Do not mention the person killed, death, or the teenager doing the seeing.

Freewrite in prose (or poetry if you have been inspired in that direction).

No pretty images for the post, to not interfere with your own images. I shall see you Thursday, poem in hand, ready to begin a revision process.


Posted by on 08/02/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


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Tuesday Tryouts: Metaphor This

8:12 am, Tuesday 1 February, 2011 – Atlanta

Hello! I hope everyone had a good weekend. I am recovering from visitors. They were less exhausting in my youth.

Today’s exercise is a lot of fun and I suggest you try several. You may or may not end up with a poem, but if you have trouble with metaphor, this will take you a long way to overcoming it. I have no images to decorate this post because I don’t want to suggest anything [even a clipart version] to your brain. The imagery needs to be all yours.

This week we will take comparison further.

Pick one of the below and freewrite. Do another…and one more?

Describe the night as seen by a young (wo)man whose first child has just been born. Do not mention birth, children, or the parent doing the seeing.

Describe a body of water as seen by a teenager contemplating suicide. Do not mention death, suicide, or the teenager doing the seeing.

Describe a bridge as seen by a middle-aged adult who just can’t seem to do well in her job. Do not mention school or the adult doing the seeing.

Describe a dog or a cat as seen by a child whose parent has just done something awful. Do not mention the parent, what the parent did, or the child doing the seeing.

Describe a forest, or some other natural scene, as seen by a woman whose detested husband has just died [yes, you can switch genders]. Do not mention the husband, the death, or the woman doing the seeing.

The trick is to accomplish the exercise without resorting to cliche and being obvious. Again, this is setting up for the next step. Next week we will discuss metaphors a little and I will give you two final prompts to work with, similar to these, but working towards a poem with one of them, so we can move into the revision process.

See you Thursday, when I do have a few loose ends to tie up.


Posted by on 01/02/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


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Tuesday Tryouts: I Shall Compare Thee

8:47 am, Tuesday, 25 January, 2011 – Atlanta

How is everyone? I hope over the weekend you had time to write, and play, and even frivol. Last week I had you do some directed freewriting as preparation. The second step in the metaphor exercises is to play with comparison, without worrying about using anything in a poem. You need to feel that you can play, and that you can stretch things, even be silly. Have fun with this.

Comparison is as natural as breathing. You hear a train and it reminds you of the ocean. You caress bark and remember your grandfather’s knees. You look at tributaries and see your veins. One landscape melts into another. It’s as if each time you encounter something it is imprinted over all the impressions that came before it; each impression is transparent.

The connection between two things can be obvious or subtle. Sometimes it’s physical. Other times the similarity is experiential or has to do with function. It is possible to find some similarity between [almost] any two things.

Babies and garbage trucks share similarities: they are both often smelly, move on all fours, and consume a lot. Trees and elephants both have trunks, have rough outer skins, live a long time.
Goldberg, Poemcrazy


Today draw comparisons between two things. Choose at least one from your surroundings. The other can be an object, a person, or an abstract concept like jealousy, love, fate. How many ways can you compare them? Go for at least twenty-five. Stretch yourself. If you have difficulty, try another pairing.

category metaphor

Comparison allows the writer to distance her/himself from the subject and allows, therefore, more direct comment. Examine a group. It can be your peers, your colleagues, your family… Then pick a category: vegetables, gardening tools, types of cereals, holidays, birds, any category that comes to mind. Develop character sketches for each member of the group based on elements within your chosen category. For instance, if you choose vegetables as a category, write about what type of vegetable your character looks like or acts like and why. Consider, you are not saying Uncle Joe is like a mushroom. You are saying he is a mushroom.

animal metaphor

What kind of animal are you? What qualities does that animal embody that you identify with temperamentally? Describe yourself as this creature. How does being this animal affect the way you write? Remember, you are not saying you are like a bear; you are a bear.


Consider what kind of weather corresponds to you right now: snow, lightning, rain, fog, a summer storm, whirlwind. How far can you take the comparison: mood, thought pattern, appearance, what you like to do for fun…

Write several of these, as the next step in preparation, and next week will come the more interesting exercises involving metaphors. These are to get you thinking naturally about comparison and to see things from a different point of view.

See you Thursday for submission resources.

All images are from clker.


Posted by on 25/01/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


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Tuesday Tryouts: Shall I Compare Thee?

8:35 am, Tuesday, 18 January, 2011 – Atlanta

I might, to answer my title’s question but first we have to build a resource pool, so we will start with several freewrites. When I sorted through my metaphor material, I realised the whole comprises several steps, so we will take it in small mouthfuls. It occasionally dawns on me that you, too, have a daily routine to get through and probably a couple of sites whose prompts you are working on.

1. Describe something you saw in the past few weeks; treat it as a still-life: a meal, an object, a panorama. Paint it with words. Get as many details as possible in, as many sensory details as you can remember. Do not worry about sense, or good writing, at this point.


Chair and the Pipe Van Gogh

2. Describe something in a room in your house, or work [you need to be there], first from where you are and where it is. Then get as close as you can, put it under a mental magnifying glass and describe it again. You don’t know what will be important, or what you will want to focus on in the next steps, so every line, crack, crevice, and blemish should go into your writing. Do not worry about sense, or good writing, at this point.

3. Pick a person in a location and describe them. You might start with what they are doing then transition into a description. Painting a portrait with words is not easy, but, as you are not worrying about final product, be literal: His left elbow rested on a newspaper, the end of his sweater sleeve looked like it had been picked at, his hand curled around a Starbucks cup…pick a starting point and work out from there.

Room at Arles van Gogh

4. Think of an object, place, or scene, that you think you know well [it must be accessible]; without looking at it describe in as much detail as possible. Then find it and add details you forgot. Same caveat: Do not worry about sense, or good writing, at this point.


And, that is it! You can, of course, write several of these. Part 2, next Tuesday.

Remember, I am off tomorrow, but on Thursday I will have the second part of my thoughts on publishing.


Posted by on 18/01/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


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Friday Freeforall: Roundup

8:50 am, Friday, 14 January, 2011 – Atlanta

Snow weeks make for long weeks. If you are still snowed in, or rained in, this group of prompts and exercises will keep you busy and off the streets! As always, visit the sites, as I give you the bare bones of what is on offer. The sites give you the whole body [sorry – had to keep with the metaphor].

Over at Writer’s Island they want us to find our Destiny.


Donna Vorreyer’s Poetry Tow Truck 2 has another fun exercise, to do with colours. She says, in part: Now, I know that many of you purists out there don’t watch television – some of you don’t even own one! But most television shows work hard to be visually appealing, and writers can always exercise their observation skills. For those of you, like me, who like an exercise laid out, Donna explains and gives an example.

Sunday Scribblings wants us to take on a walk in the park, but not necessarily a literal walk.

Carry on Tuesday‘s quote this week is a line from Tupac Shakur. In addition to their suggestions, you can also try the Poetry Tow Truck’s prompt 1.

If you like single word prompts without leading questions bounce over to One Single Impression, or Three Word Wednesday.

Big Tent has another creative prompt and while today is posting day, if you haven’t seen the prompt, it’s worth trying. Their exercise is in two parts and here is some of what they tell us for the first part: Ask your friend alliteration to help you write a word list. Pick one letter of the alphabet and set down a bunch of words (at least 8 or 9) that begin with your chosen letter. (Hint: When you pick your letter consider the energy in its sound. Do you want to work with a clipped and energetic c or k? How about a playful p? Is soothing or melodic on your mind, or would you like to point it in that direction? Try the singable consonants m or n. Do you want to howl or moan? O and a might be your friend this week.)

I always get lost on Jingle Poetry‘s site but I think I have the correct link. They have the past and future prompt together. Their prompt for the past week is to do with journeys and the routes we choose. The prompt for the next few days is: Languages, Signs, and Symbols. The link for posting goes up on Sundays.

Poets & Writers has a fun exercise if you haven’t done an erasure poem before. Go on over to their site to read the directions.

I love Magpie Tales image which is a piece of sheet music. If images sometimes don’t work for you, try freewriting the image for a while and see what happens.


One Stop Poetry, where you never know what you will find and so is worth visiting every day, has a musical prompt today. I offered an exercise like this last month; if you go here, you can check it out. Then try Brian Miller’s piece at One Stop. On Monday One Stop will be talking about a poetic form, so stop by then. The past two weeks they have dealt with haiku.


We Write Poems asks us:  to write a poem that is a conversation between two people. It can be imaginary, or one based on an actual experience. Read the whole prompt on their site. This one can be fun.

Poets United wants us to: step outside the normal pursuit of poetry and use a random piece of art found at deviantArt. Read the whole prompt, as they do have an interesting caveat.

If you still haven’t thrown a stone in the river, I encourage you to do so. It doesn’t matter that you have missed a few. I have found the routine of a small stone is invaluable.

And that does us for this week. May your weekend be fruitful in some way. If it involves words and writing them down, that’s a bonus.  If you are here for the first time you can also visit this site for this week’s exercise. I will see you on Tuesday for our next foray into writing.



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Posted by on 14/01/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


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Tuesday Tryout: 8×10

9:32 am, Tuesday, 11 January, 2011 – Atlanta


Make three columns. In the first column jot down ten verbs whose SOUND you like; in the second column, list ten nouns whose SOUND you like; and in the third column list ten adjectives/adverbs whose SOUND you like. Circle FIVE words in each column. Do not worry about the words going together. That would be more restrictive than you might think. Then again, don’t worry if the words do go together.

Write a paragraph [or more] in which you include all fifteen words. This can be a freewrite to loosen you up, or if you already have an idea, follow it.

Create a ten line poem, with eight syllables in each line, and five rhymes. The rhymes may be end rhymes, slant rhymes or internal rhymes.

feast at least once
moose on the loose


RESONANCE    n, m, ng, z, zh        lingering,droning, vibrant effects

HARSHNESS    k, g, hard c        throaty sounds, for dissonance and cacophony

PLOSIVENESS    b, p, t, d, g, k,         percussive sounds

A nice, gentle structure, but enough to make you work at it. The trick is in not having the poem sound like it is bound by the structure, but to let the structure enhance the poem.

As always, I would love to see what you come up with. Post in comments or leave a link where the poem can be read.

I am taking a snow day tomorrow. My husband has had two snow days and I figure I deserve one! I also want to think about the evolution of this blog and make a few decisions. So, I will see you back here on Thursday for some thoughts on submissions.

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Posted by on 11/01/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


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Friday Freeforall

9:20 am, Friday, 31 December, 2010 – Atlanta

No, I’m not really here, but I wanted to post once more about Fiona Robyn’s small stone writing month which starts tomorrow, or in some places in the world, today.Here is what she says:

Would you like to start the new year as you mean to go on?

You might have heard of NaNoWriMo, where participants are encouraged to write an entire novel in a single month.

I would like to announce a new event beginning on January the 1st 2011: InNaSmaStoMo. International Small Stone Month.

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to write a small stone every day during the month of January.

What is a small stone?

A small stone is a polished moment of paying proper attention.

You can see many fine examples at our sister blogzine, a handful of stones. You can read more about the birth of the concept of small stones here and how to write them here.

Why would you want to join in?

Because choosing something to write about every day will help you to connect with yourselves, with others, and with the world. It will help you to love everything you see – the light and the dark, the happy and the sad, the beautiful and the ugly.

You don’t have to be a ‘writer’ to get involved. The PROCESS of paying attention is what’s important. I’d especially like ‘writers’ and ‘non-writers’ to get involved. If you’d rather not publish your small stones on a blog, you can write them in a note-book. It could change your entire year…

Sounds fun. I am joining in but will publish my stones on a different blog so as not to confuse things on this one. My address for small stones is at Random Stones. Think of it as image collecting, or freewriting from which you will find a poem or imagistic moment you wish to polish.

Happy New Year and I will still see you Monday to start off the new year.

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Posted by on 31/12/2010 in exercises, poetry, writing


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