Saturday, October 3, 2009

As the Beatles said, "Help!"

I'm running a little writing seminar in/around Big Sur in a week or so, and could use a few prose exercises. I remember Mary L's lovely first line/first page presentation during the summer residency, but could always use others. I have a day and a half with the students, most of whom have written a lot and published here and there. So they're not newbies and I have to keep their minds off the scenery which is supposed to be spectacular. Someone wondered if we could meet outdoors for part of the day and I said that I'd bring my lute. Jesus, the indignities poets suffer!!



  1. Ron, two of my favorite exercises are:
    1) Think of a dream you had. Lend it to your character and retell it as their dream.
    2) Think of a personal issue the writer is struggling with that week. Lend it to your character. How does the struggle manifest itself in their lives?
    These came from a workshop I attended by Zelda Lockhart.

  2. I thought the freewriting exercise Bill Kennedy did in his grad lecture this summer was really powerful. It was a question he heard from Robert Olen Butler:
    "What did the person you loved the most do that you could not forgive?"
    People wrote fast and furious in response to that, and it made me wonder what other questions Butler had to tap that "white hot place."

  3. Ron, I was going to post that question, but Heather beat me to it. You can use it if you answer the qustion and post it. The list actually came from Elizabeth Dewberry, Butler's wife, before she divorced him and moved in with Ted Turner. Butler's latest book could be a reaction to all that.

    The other questions are more mundane.

    Bill K.

  4. Ok, one more. Have the students answer that question as prose. Then transform the prose into a poem, style of their choice.

  5. Sorry to beat you to the punch, Bill. It was such a great question--it's stuck with me since July. I plan to use it as a freewrite to dive into issues my character has with her mom. Thanks for sharing it in your lecture!