Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Curious Creative: Week 36

No More Be Verbs!

This is the thirty-sixth 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 teachers will often tell you to replace your be-verbs (is, am, are, was, were, have been, am being) with more interesting action verbs. The idea of be-verbs is very boring because something that ‘is’ is not doing anything. ‘Existing’ is very abstract. It is hard for the mind’s eye to imagine, but an action can be imagined. This week, we will play with a paragraph authored by someone else. This simple exercise will get you thinking about stronger verbs, so when you write your own material, you are conscious of making interesting verb choices.

Your Turn!

1. Glean a paragraph from anywhere. Make sure it is littered with be-verbs. Highlight the be-verbs.

example: Have you ever wondered why most of the things in Nature are so visually pleasing? Why spirals, though imperfect, are so attractive? Why four petal flowers are so rare? The answers can be found in mathematical principles.

2. In this first round, replace the be-verbs with action verbs that don’t change the meaning of the paragraph too much.

example: Have you ever wondered why most of the things in Nature PIECE TOGETHER so visually pleasingly? Why spirals, though imperfect, CURVE so attractively? Why four petal flowers VISIT so rarely? The answers SCREAM in mathematical principles.

Note: You may have to make some small changes in the rest of the sentences. If the sentence is a passive sentence, you may have to switch the subject and object for the sentence to make sense with an action verb. For example, you would change “He was eaten by the crocodile” to “The crocodile devoured him.” If the sentence uses a be-verb to describe something, you may have to change the part of speech of the adjective in the sentence. For example, you would change “She is beautiful” to “She hovers beautifully.”

3. In the second round, be more creative. Have fun! Wax poetic! Don’t be afraid to change the meaning of the paragraph.

example: Have you ever wondered why most of the things in Nature BLEED so visually pleasingly? Why spirals, though imperfect, WINCE so attractively? Why four petal flowers GIVE BIRTH so rarely? The answers DRESS in mathematical principles.

How did you do? Do your verbs give visuals? Does your last paragraph lean towards poetry? Are you more aware of how interesting action verbs can enhance writing?

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! 


Source: “Why Seashells are so Alluring?” Inspiration Bit. http://www.inspirationbit.com


Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Curious Creative: Week 35

Too Many Adjectives

This is the thirty-fifth 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:

One thing you are not supposed to do in most creative writing is clutter it with adjectives. Writing teachers tell you over and over again that good writing is all about interesting nouns and strong verbs, and that adjectives and adverbs water it down. For this week’s exercise, you will first indulge in what you’re not supposed to do- overwrite with adjectives- and then you will redact them to see what remains.

Your Turn!

  1. Simply write a description of the room you are sitting in. Go out of your way to describe every noun with at least one adjective, more if you can. Even add adverbs to each of your verbs. Write in the form a paragraph or freewrite. 
The stained, splintered picnic tables, wooden and square, line the grey, textured, pressboard deck floor. Empty and blankly anticipating the afterwork hours, they are bare and dirty, silent bearers of unwelcome splinters. Oblong globular lights zigzag neatly above them, hungrily anticipating a later hour.

  1. Take a black pen and cross out every adjective and adverb.
The stained, splintered picnic tables, wooden and square, line the grey, textured, pressboard deck floor. Empty and blankly anticipating the afterwork hours, they are bare and dirty, silent bearers of unwelcome splinters. Oblong globular lights zigzag neatly above them, hungrily anticipating a later hour.

  1. Rewrite the remaining words as a poem, adding line breaks where appropriate. Change articles (a/an/the) and prepositions (to/from/in/at) as needed. 
picnic tables line the deck floor
anticipating the hours they are
bearers of splinters
and lights zigzag above
anticipating the hour

How did you do? Does your poem include space that the original description did not have? Space that allows the images to breathe – suggesting subtleties and connotations?

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! 



Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Curious Creative: Week 34

Food and Home 

This is the thirty-fourth 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:

For this week’s creative exercise, you’ll explore the connection between a specific food and the feeling of home. There will be plenty of rich sensory details to explore- taste, smell, texture, and sight. Also of interest will be how such concrete details can conjure up the abstract feeling of home.

Your Turn!

  1. List several food dishes that remind you of “home.” They can be regional specialties or your own family’s traditional dishes.
  1. Of these, circle your favorite.
  1. Spend five minutes clustering or mind-mapping some of your memories associated with this food. Recall details of events, people, and environment.
  1. Pick the most interesting detail from your brainstorm, and plug it into the opening sentence: “It was _______________________ that told me I was home.”
  1. From this sentence, continue drafting a personal essay or narrative.
How did you do? Did your sensory details make for rich writing? Were you able to uncover interesting details that conjure up the feeling of home for you? Did one particular story emerge?

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: “Apple Pie.” “The Time is Now,” Poets & Writers, 7/6/17, pw.org.

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.