Excuses, excuses, right?
This assignment is due NEXT Sunday at Midnight.
From The Writer's Idea Book by Jeff Heffron, page 70-73
"Of course most [prompts asking you to describe a place where you have lived] will offer a broad historical, geographical or sociological perspective. This can give a strong context to your character, but you'll need to push deeper, looking for the particular details and rhythms of life that make a place truly unique. Otherwise, your writing can sound like a travelogue-- researched rather than lived...
...We do need, at times, an "establishing shot" or two in our stories, a detail to quickly place the reader. But [an author discussed elsewhere in the text] makes an important point. Too often we reach for the easy description, the "touristy" detail that simply tells the reader what she knows already rather than evoking a vivid world where the reader can settle in and view the people and the events of the story you're telling.
PROMPT: Write a letter describing your place to someone who has never been there. "What is Idaho like?" they've asked. They think of mountains and potatoes. Fill in the blanks. Give an insider's view of the place, while keeping in mind they know nothing about it. Take time to linger, elaborate. You will avoid the cliches of the place because you know the particulars. In fact, take some time to explode the cliches. If you're from Georgia, explain how the myths of the South, or Georgia, or your city, just don't apply anymore. Is Nebraska really the breadbasket of Bible-belting boredome, or does some pretty interesting stuff occur there?
PROMPT: Wrhte a letter in which a fictional character describes your neighborhood, town, city, state, or region from the point of view of someone who has just arrived. Though this persona will lack your insider's knowledge, he will be wide-eyed at the world he's discovering. And he will notice different things from what you notice, if you can push yourself deeply enough into the personal. To him, this place is exotic.
PROMPT: Write a scene in which a character returns home after an extended absence. Tour the character through the streets. What has changed and what has stayed the same? If you want, heighten the tension by creating a disparity between the descriptive details as seen by the character and the character's reaction to them. The character, for example, could view sad, shabby storefronts as quaint and cozy of lookalike suburban streets as unique and distinctive.
PROMPT: Create a fictional hometown. Draw a map of it, creating the streets and noting the stores and the homes where people live. If you want, base this fictional place on your own hometown-- or part of town if you live in a city. Write a description of the town. Give it a history. Give it landmarks, noting where certain fictional events too place.
PROMPT: If you had fun with the previous prompt, put some people in that fictional hometown. Write some character sketches of these people. If you catch a spark, begin a story. You may want to collect the stories into a single work. A famous example of this type of book is Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio.
PROMPT: Write about a place you haven't seen for many years, preferably, not since you were a child. Then, if possible, visit that place. How close does your description from memory match the reality? You might be surprised how your memory has changed it. Writer Wright Morris wrote of a favorite child place he remembered well, a cool, dark spot under the porch of his boyhood home in Nebraska. He could remember hiding in this spot, and even in his middle age still could see the flat sweep of land fanning out in front of his house. When he returned to the house for a visit, hi family long since moved away, he was shocked to find the space beneath the porch far too small to accomodate even a child. He had made it up. Over time, his imagination had created a place that didn't exist.
Choose one, many or all. Please POST YOUR RESPONSES AS A COMMENT
I note that many of you have choosen one or two of the submissions to comment on. Thank you very much. As writers, we ALL know that feedback is very encouraging.
If someone would like to suggest a book to do prompts out of, let me know.