Do You Really Want To Know What Your Body Parts Are Saying About You?

finger of Northumberlandia, Lady of the North
finger of Northumberlandia, Lady of the North

When I broke my wrist a couple of weeks ago, two people on the same day warned me to be sure to treat the pain. The body remembers, they told me.

As an ex-dancer I’m a firm believer in body memory. It’s a wonderful feeling to let one’s body take over and remember the movements of a choreography. And who hasn’t moved in a particular way (or smelled or tasted or heard something) and have a previous occasion – where we were and who we were with – leap to mind?

But here’s something very weird: I’m convinced (in retrospect) that a week before I broke my wrist, it saw the future.

Suddenly, out of the blue, Continue reading

Looking to Write Your Way Out From Your Usual? A Writing Exercise!

Fanny Fanny, a sculpture in welded bronze by César Baldacinni

Fanny Fanny
by César Baldacinni

Feel like it’s time for a change in your writing? Looking for portals that might lead you to different kinds of stories or different styles of writing from your usual? Try this exercise!

The exercise has two parts. The first – how to write this exercise – comes courtesy of Montréal poet Blossom Thom*, the second – the prompt – is from me.

You will need plenty of paper (I’d suggest good sized paper, not an itsy-bitsy notebook), and a pen or pencil.

But first, a warm up to power up both sides of the brain!

Warm Up

Clasp your hands in front of you. Note which thumb is on top. Open your hands and clasp them again, this time with the other thumb on top. Clasp and re-clasp your hands, alternating thumbs on top, as fast as you can.

Now do the same hand clasping exercise behind your back! Faster!

Part 1: Get Ready…

Using pen or pencil, you will write with Continue reading

Odd Connections and the Creative Process: Writing “Arrivals”

Arrivals notice boardI am so pleased to have my story “Arrivals”  in the new issue of carte blanche.

I started this story in response to an assignment given by Nancy Zafris in her workshop at Kenyon Review Writers’ Summer Workshop in June 2012. Nancy gave the group a list of sentences. We were to choose one as the closing line for a story.

We were given one or two assignments every day for the whole week of the Kenyon Summer Workshop. This assignment Continue reading

Word-icise – A Word Workout and Writing Exercise!

The Passing Song, Catherine Widgery, 1992 Musée Plein Air de Lachine

“The Passing Song”
Catherine Widgery

Today’s writing prompt will be an end-of-summer word workout!

1. Start by exercising your fast-twitch word muscles. List all the words you can find within the word given below!  For example: if the word were “greatness”: great, eat, teen, neat, greet, gnat, rent, rest, ten….

2. Then we move to the slow-twitch/endurance word muscles. When you have found all you can, find at least four more. (And then four more?) Go on, are you sure there aren’t more?

3. Worn out? Add in some words which use any letter as many times as you like: trea(t), sten(t). Use real names: Tess, Stan

4. Now the pay off! Start writing, incorporating ALL the words in your list in the order in which they appeared.

The prompt word is:

RESOLUTION

Have fun!

Playing With Words: Sentence Experiments – Writing Exercise

Shadows II by Jaume Plensa MMBA on loan from Georges Marciano

Shadows II by Jaume Plensa
MMBA on loan from Georges Marciano

Nothing perks up a piece of prose – and a writer – more than playing around with sentence structures.

A fun exercise I especially enjoy is to take a sentence that feels totally alien and try to write my own sentence in exactly that same style. Why? To surprise myself. To kick myself out of my same old same old ho-hum sentence habits. To discover new rhythms.

“I’m playing with words” Virginia Woolf

The Exercise Continue reading

One Core Essential Of Narrative Energy, And A Writing Exercise

man dancing with feathersYesterday, at the National Arts Gallery in Ottawa, we were walking up the ramp along the glass wall to the galleries behind two young boys with their mother.

An elderly, very smartly dressed couple started down the ramp. The man stopped as he and his wife were about to pass the boys. He leaned towards them. Pursing his lips, he started to Continue reading

Narrative Energy Tip #1: Chameleon Sentence

img_03712.jpg

A chameleon sentence begins with one energy and ends with another.

Usually it starts off positive with maybe even suggestions of light-heartedness, but then turns into something more ominous. But there’s no reason why one shouldn’t try the reverse.

While chameleon sentences make for terrific beginning sentences, they can shift the narrative, and surprise and engage writer and reader at any time.

Two Examples

  • “It was a summer’s night and they were talking, in the big room with the windows open to the garden, about the cesspool.” (opening sentence of Between the Acts, Virginia Woolf) A pleasant gathering on a summer’s evening …changes to… something dirty and stinky and underground
  • “Edna and I had started down from Kalispell headed for Tampa-St. Pete where I still had some friends from the old glory days who wouldn’t turn me in to the police.” (Rock Springs, Richard Ford) A trip down south to old friends …changes to… on the run?

The Exercise

Write 6 chameleon sentences – each one beginning a new story. Surprise the sentence. Surprise yourself.

What chameleon sentences have you come across in your readings or writings? Please share them in the Comments Box.