Friday, April 23, 2010

UCLA Instructor Chris Meeks Shares Writing Prompt

My fellow UCLA Writers’ Program instructor and author Christopher Meeks shared this excercise he uses to help beginning students perfect their understanding for metaphor. I thought teachers among you would love it, and that literary writers and poets among my subscribers could use the prompt for their own creative juices.

“On the first day of class, I ask my students to take a mini-field trip outside the classroom and find one object and stare at it. Then they must write three similes and three metaphors for the single object. I explain what each is before they go out, and then when they return six minutes later, I listen to each person's six comparisons. Those who don't do it well learn from others who bring a spark to what they see. Thus I set the idea that I like simile and metaphor.

"The reason I have them write six comparisons, by the way, is that they're likely to burn through the clich├ęs and then be forced to look at their object anew. 'The clouds look like cotton balls, like white cotton candy... like my dead grandmother's doilies that she always spilt chicken broth on.'"

Meeks's own books are featured in the Amazon Widgets in this post. The first a book of short stories, the second a novel.
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. Her FRUGAL book for retailers is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

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