Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Curious Creative: Week 33

Writing Dialogue

This is the thirty-third installment of The Curious Creative, weekly 10-minute writing exercises for busy individuals interested in exploring their creativity. For the complete rationale, click here

My Thoughts:

Writing good dialogue entails you first do some good listening. Tune in to the conversations around you. How do people greet each other? What catchphrases do certain people use? Do people finish sentences for one another? Does one person become more talkative in groups? These rhythms in how people communicate with one another create character. 

Your Turn!

  1. Go to a public place with crowds- the airport, a bus station, the mall, a restaurant. It’s best if you pick a place where people are naturally tense, like at the airport. Sit near a bunch of people so you can both blend in and listen. Pretend to be preoccupied with your own thoughts so you don’t call attention to yourself and change their natural conversation.
  1. Jot down several quick exchanges that you overhear. You may only be able to capture a phrase or two, and that’s okay.
  1. Look over what you have. Are there any interesting seeds of conflict or characters worth exploring? A mysterious plot point worth developing? 
  1. If you have time, choose one and run with it. Write a 10-minute sketch (dialogue) between two people in which you develop character and conflict from the exchange you overheard.
How did you do? Even if you didn’t have time to write a complete scene based on one of the exchanges you overheard, did you at least walk away with a few possible stories? Did you pick up on some interesting ways in which people converse- non sequiturs, interruptions, unfinished sentences, etc.?

To encourage each other and grow a community of Curious Creatives, sign in from a google account so you can share your creation in the comment box below. Also, if you subscribe to this blog (submit your email address in the "Follow this Site by Email" box to the right), you will get an email update whenever a new exercise is added. Thanks for playing! 


Inspired by: Chiarella, Tom. Writing Dialogue: How to create memorable voices and fictional conversations that crackle with wit, tension and nuance. Cincinatti: Story Press, 1998, p. 9-17.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Curious Creative: Week 32

It’s Too Bad That _____ and _____ Never Met

This is the thirty-second installment of The Curious Creative, weekly 10-minute writing exercises for busy individuals interested in exploring their creativity. For the complete rationale, click here

My Thoughts:

In this week’s exercise, you will play with the imagined encounter between someone you know and a famous person.

Your Turn!

  1. Choose a photograph of someone from your life. To find one, root through old envelopes of photos stuffed in your desk drawer or peruse the ones affixed to your fridge. Then, flip through a magazine and find a picture of a famous person- an actress, politician, sports player, etc 
  1. Free associate about each of the photos for five minutes. Don’t labor over including every detail you know about them. Rather, allow the words you come up with to lead you in new directions. You can list words rather than write in complete sentences.
  1. Place the photos next to each other. Study the expressions. Is Lionel Messi sneering at your mother? Is your childhood best friend winking at Barack Obama? Why is your next-door neighbor batting her eyes at Angelina Jolie’s adopted son? Freewrite on this imagined relationship for five minutes.
  1. If you have time to start a piece, begin a poem or story in which these two people meet. Use what you know about their characters to describe this meeting. If you’d rather write more realistically, write in the style of an essay about why these two people should know each other and what they could add to each other’s lives.
How did you do? Even if you didn’t have time to write a piece after your freewrite, did you at least have fun imagining this encounter of two people who will probably never meet? 

To encourage each other and grow a community of Curious Creatives, sign in from a google account so you can share your creation in the comment box below. Also, if you subscribe to this blog (submit your email address in the "Follow this Site by Email" box to the right), you will get an email update whenever a new exercise is added. Thanks for playing! 


Inspired by: Smith, Michael C. and Suzanne Greenberg. “Photo Album,” Everyday Creative Writing: Panning for Gold in the Kitchen Sink, 2nd ed. NCT Publishing Group, 2000, p. 71-73.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Curious Creative: Week 31

Early Classmates

This is the thirty-first installment of The Curious Creative, weekly 10-minute writing exercises for busy individuals interested in exploring their creativity. For the complete rationale, click here

My Thoughts:

Elementary school memories are iceberg tips bobbing in our brains, flashbulb memories occasionally surfacing. Think of all the juicy details lying below the surface! In this week’s exercise, you will recall the names of childhood classmates to recover a complete memory. You’ll find it amazing how the power of a name can recall images and details long forgotten.

Your Turn!

  1. Write down the first 20 names that come to you of classmates from your early school days. 
  1. Write 2 sentences about each person on your list, consisting of whatever you remember about them. 
  1. Write 2-3 sentences from several classmates’ points of view about you.
  1. Pick someone from your list, and imagine yourself with him/her in a place where you would have been together. Pretend to be that person. Write from his/her point of view in the first-person present tense. Answer these questions. Remember that “she/he” is actually you, and “you” is actually your classmate!
·      Where are you?
·      What are you doing?
·      What is she/he doing?
·      What time of day does it seem to be?
·      What season is it?
·      About how old are you?
·      How old is he/she?
·      Why are you there?
·      Why is she/he there?
·      Is there anyone else in this image?
·      Is there anyone who just left or who might be coming?
·      What kind of mood does he/she seem to be in?
·      What does she/he look like?

How did you do? Did the initial exercise of listing 20 names loosen your pen? Was it hardest to describe yourself from their point of view? Did writing from another’s perspective make it easier or more difficult to recover details or a narrative from the image?

To encourage each other and grow a community of Curious Creatives, sign in from a google account so you can share your creation in the comment box below. Also, if you subscribe to this blog (submit your email address in the "Follow this Site by Email" box to the right), you will get an email update whenever a new exercise is added. Thanks for playing! 


Inspired by: Barry, Linda. What It Is. Montreal: Drawn & Quarterly, 2008.

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Curious Creative: Week 30

Catalog Poem

This is the thirtieth installment of The Curious Creative, weekly 10-minute writing exercises for busy individuals interested in exploring their creativity. For the complete rationale, click here

My Thoughts:

Fixed form poems are types of poems that include rules for rhyme, number of syllables, repetition of certain words, etc. More difficult fixed forms include sonnets, villanelles, and sestinas. But there are many simpler ones. In fact, as a child you probably dabbled in fixed forms when you wrote acrostic poems. In an acrostic poem, the first letter of every line spells a word, like your name. There are other simpler fixed forms that make for good exercises in creative play. This week, we’ll experiment with the catalog poem. It’s not as much a form as a strategy, but by adding a fixed form rule, your poem may unfurl more easily.

Your Turn!

1. A catalog poem is simply a catalog or list of people, objects, or abstract qualities. For your inspiration, think of things associated with a particular person, place, season, or event. The "things" can be actual objects, or more abstract qualities such as feelings or memories.

2. Either repeat a single word or phrase at the beginning of your lines or at the end of your lines. For example, “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music is a catalog poem that repeats a phrase at the end of each stanza:

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,
bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens,
brown paper packages tied up with strings,
these are a few of my favorite things.

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels,
door bells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles.
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings.
these are a few of my favorite things.

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes,
snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes,
silver white winters that melt into springs,
these are a few of my favorite things.

3. An important tip: Art is just as much pattern as chaos. So when it starts to feel boring, stop cataloging for a few lines.

How did you do? Did the simple repetition aid you in creating your list?


To encourage each other and grow a community of Curious Creatives, sign in from a google account so you can share your creation in the comment box below. Also, if you subscribe to this blog (submit your email address in the "Follow this Site by Email" box to the right), you will get an email update whenever a new exercise is added. Thanks for playing! 

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Curious Creative: Week 29

Free Association


This is the twenty-ninth installment of The Curious Creative, weekly 10-minute writing exercises for busy individuals interested in exploring their creativity. For the complete rationale, click here

My Thoughts:

To free-associate means to say the first thing that comes to mind when presented with a word, a phrase, or an object. Freud used this method to discover repressed material in his patients’ unconscious. In this week’s exercise, you’re going to use this technique to generate material. You won’t have an analyst to provide word after word for you, but it’s possible to free-associate a chain of words on your own. The aim is to dredge up surprising material in the connections (or lack of connection) between words and ideas.

Your Turn!

1.     Choose a phrase from the list below. These words come from a list of “Fashion Idioms and Vocabulary.”  It seems random because it is. Alternately, you can choose another random phrase. Look around you for ideas. Don’t think too hard about it. It’s just a jumping-off point. Your thoughts will soon take a detour from this original word, so don’t worry about not wanting to write about the word’s subject.
fashion victim
baggy
catwalk
clothes stall
fashion icon
must-haves
a sense of style
old-fashioned
strike a pose
dressed to kill
have an eye for fashion
dressed for the occasion
well dressed

2.     Write the phrase on the first line of your paper. Before you finish writing its last letter, let a new word pop into your mind, and write it next to the phrase. Repeat this process until you have a chain of words written as a paragraph.

3.     Now explore the connections. Freewrite or list possible connections between some of the words.

4.     If you have time, you can start a story/essay/poem that includes several of the words and their relationship.

How did you do? Did you some of your words and their connections at times make sense? Did your sequence of words bring up any surprising material?

To encourage each other and grow a community of Curious Creatives, sign in from a google account so you can share your creation in the comment box below. Also, if you subscribe to this blog (submit your email address in the "Follow this Site by Email" box to the right), you will get an email update whenever a new exercise is added. Thanks for playing! 

Inspired by: Smith, Michael C. and Suzanne Greenberg. “Free Association.” Everyday Creative Writing: Panning for Gold in the Kitchen Sink, 2nd ed. NCT Publishing Group, 2000, p. 11-12.