Writing Exercise: Flamingo

Do you ever get words stuck in your head? I’ve heard it’s a symptom of OCD (though if you look up a full list of OCD symptoms you’ll probably un-diagnose yourself). There was a time in my life when these words plagued me. I’d read the name of a chemical on a shampoo bottle in the morning and it would play over and over and over and over, whenever my mind was quiet.

This morning, for no reason at all, I thought of the word “flamingo.” Flamingo, flamingo, flamingo. And just as it was starting to get annoying I though, “Maybe I could use this.”

So the challenge this week is to write something using a repetitive word. I know it can work when wielded by the right writer–just read something by Robert Lopez and you’ll see what I mean. (Seriously, though, read Robert Lopez anyway. He’s amazing.)

Here’s mine:

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Writing Exercise: By the Numbers

Our lives are so full of numbers. Dates, identification, expenditures–and yet I find, in my writing, I almost never number anything. Part of this is a fear that I’ll get the number wrong–I don’t want to say that something cost $1.69 in case it ought to cost $3.50–but also because that kind of information seems useless and mundane. But today, I’m challenging myself to use numbers in my writing, in part because the protagonist of my current project is a numbers person and likely to numerate the world around her.

So here we go. Numbers…

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Writing Exercise: The Second Person

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Boy bands love the second person.

Have you ever written in the second person? (By which I mean the narrative addresses some sort of “you.”) It’s not a particularly popular style but there are some good examples of it out there. Cherry by Mary Karr is an entire memoir written in the second person. Self-Help by Lorrie Moore uses the second person in short stories. And then there’s What Would Your Mother Say by Laura Ender–

Wait, you haven’t heard of that one? Oh, right. Not published. (Yet. Adding the word “yet” will make me feel better.) That’s my novel, which is sort of on hold at the moment after a long period of submissions (Thank you, Kate! I love you! I mean, I’ve never met you in person and I don’t know your favorite color or if you have a dog or anything but you took a chance on my novel so I love you.) because I’ve had some creative epiphany/realized it just isn’t good enough.

Anyhow, my novel is written entirely in the second person. A risky choice, I know, and certainly something that has made certain editors hesitate, but it’s right for the book and I will stand by it. But I’ve been away from my second person novel for a long time, writing in the first and third like a normal person. So I need to get back into it. So this exercise is completely self-serving but maybe you’ll enjoy it, too.

So that’s the brief: write in the second person. Take it wherever you want to. Five minutes. Go.

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Writing Exercise: A Rose by Any Other Name

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Do you know anyone named Rose? First name or last name. A dog, a cat–anyone? What about famous people–Charlie Rose, for example. Or Rosemary Clooney. Or someone who just reminds you of roses.

Well, I had a first grade teacher named Mrs. Rose. Come to think of it, I have no idea what her first name was. That makes me sad. But I do remember her quite vividly, and I’ve decided that she’s the inspiration for this week’s writing exercise. I’m going to write about her; you write about your Rose (real or imaginary).

As usual: five minutes. Go. (And remember to share yours in the comments!) Continue reading “Writing Exercise: A Rose by Any Other Name”