Writing Exercises

Today’s writing exercise is about using your senses. It ties into Tuesday’s writing prompt, which asked you to imagine the smell of freshly cut grass and then let that scent take hold of your imagination.

Instead of a prompt, the exercise today is to use your senses to establish a scene so a reader can step in and see what you see, hear what you hear, etc.—in essence, one big “show, don’t tell.”

So, close your eyes, use your senses, and write a scene. It doesn’t have to be long, and there doesn’t need to be any dialogue at all. Just see, hear, smell, feel, taste what is going on around you. Choose descriptive verbs rather than relying on adverbs to make your point, and if you must pick an adverb, make it an interesting one. Focus on active verbs rather than passive verbs whenever possible.

To get us started, I’ll leave you with my results from this exercise. Hopefully this will encourage some of our lovely readers to post a comment or two of their own.

A cool breeze dances across my feet and chases goose bumps up my calves until it reaches the soft fabric of my skirt. The edges flutter playfully, as if in response. From the window’s edge, I hear the soft hum from the fans as they work to send the chill my way—the compressors turn on and the humming increases, forcing other sounds to fade until they are simply background noise. I focus on the ebb and flow of the fans as they ride a wave of rhythm, increasing to a heightened pace before peaking and subsiding to begin the pattern anew. I close my eyes, and the damp, stagnant weight is lifted away. Only fresh and crisp remain.

The catalyst for that was the sentence, “Oh, I see they’ve finally turned the air on in the office,” uttered by a happy coworker.

Go on, give it a try; if I can, so can you. I’d love to see some of your ideas put to words.

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” 

– Anton Chekhov


Image courtesy of Exsodus / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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