Writing Exercise: The Item

Pick an item and describe it. Preferably pick something in sight of your desk. If you use this warm-up a lot, start bringing interesting objects into your office just for this exercise.

Each time you do this exercise, do it a little differently. Options involving form include:

  • #2a. Write a poem about the object.
  • #2b. Use purple prose to describe the object. (Use ridiculously overblown imagery and vocabulary.)
  • #2c. Restrict yourself to words of two syllables or less and simple sentences.
  • #2d. Describe the object without ever naming it.
  • #2e. Describe the object within the framework of whatever piece of writing you’re currently working on. If you’re working on a story, use the object in a scene in the story. If you’re working on an article, use the object in a discussion about your topic.

You can also delve into stranger exercises that involve items. These could be used on their own, or in conjunction with one of the exercises above:

  • #2f. Describe how the object could be used to solve a mystery. Or, write up or outline a story that is a mystery involving the object.
  • #2g. If the item were magical, what sort of powers would it have?
  • #2h. If that particular item were still around 200 years from now, what would it be like? How would it be used? What would have happened to it?
  • #2i. What sort of person might own such an object? Delve into her personality, career, life, etc.
  • #2j. Place your object in different genres – horror, science fiction, fantasy, the western, a romance, etc. Write a page or two of that story, making sure the object is in there somewhere.
  • #2k. Deliberately choose an object that seems plain or boring to you and use it in one of the other versions of this exercise.
  • #2l. What would someone from a different time period (past or future) think of this object?
  • #2m. How might an alien view this object? What might he think its purpose was?

You get the idea. There are many more ways to manipulate your object that I haven’t thought of; make a list and play with it.

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