Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Writing Prompt – Expressions

dreamstimefree_174300-eI’m sitting in the doctor’s office as I type this.

When I walked in, there were only there were only three people in the office. And now, forty minutes later…I’m still sitting in the waiting room, and there’s not a seat to be had.

Seriously. Standing room only.

The funny part: the expression on each newcomer’s face when they walk through the door. Most people are surprised at first. Then comes annoyance. There are quite a few angry faces, too.

(I’m thinking of Mrs. Potato Head in Toy Story right now, where she packs Mr. Potato Head’s angry eyes, just in case he needs them.)


I’m laughing. If I’d been one of the entrants facing a backed up schedule and nowhere to sit, I’d probably be sporting my angry eyes and a tight-lipped frowny face, too. Instead, I’ve been joking with the seated folks sitting close to me.

We’re watching it all unfold and waiting for an explosion. That should be fun.

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write an angry scene. Pay attention to the expressions on your character’s faces, as well as dialogue or actions. Stay away from cliches (a mouth that’s simply a slash, eyes that flash, etc).
  • Write a happy scene. As above, pay attention to expressions, not just dialogue and body language. Avoid sparkling eyes, wide or curved mouths and white teeth.
  • For practice, set aside some time to describe the faces of the characters in your manuscript. (If you write memoir or are writing a family history, pick the faces of people you know). Now picture these people angry or happy (or some other emotion). Take time to describe not just eyes and mouth, but brow and chin. Wrinkles. Scars. Moles and warts.
  • Write a poem about a person who is angry or happy (or, you decide what emotion), but don’t use facial expressions to convey the emotion.
  • Write an essay about a time you were extraordinarily angry or upset. Write about your facial expressions…from the inside. Were your eyes hot and stinging? Was your brow so furrowed the muscles were tight? Remember, too, how your expression felt when the situation was resolved. Write down those feelings, too.
  • As above, but use the “inner feelings” of your expressions in your manuscript for your point of view character.

Good Luck!


Image Copyright © Dawn Hudson | Dreamstime Stock Photos.

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

Writing Prompt – The Eyes Have It

August is National Eye Exam Month.

Coincidentally, I just had my eyes examined. This year, the doctor took photos of my eyes to check for abnormalities. It was a completely painless – and quick – procedure, but anxious-making if only because it’s considered a “medical” test and had to be scheduled outside of the regular eye exam.

And after the exam, which meant the doctor saw something she didn’t like.

What she saw, if unchecked, could result in total blindness for me. (I’m safe, by the way. But it’s still something the doctor wants to watch.)

But the process reminded me of a question someone asked me once: would you rather go blind or go deaf?

I apologize if I’ve offended any of my deaf or blind friends with this question, but I hope you’re agree that it makes for an interesting discussion–if just in the abstract. The point is: what type of major loss–perhaps something you take totally for granted–could you live without the best?

It’s still an awkward question, I know.

My answer: I’d rather go deaf. Tough choice for me, really, but those of you who’ve ever visited or driven in a car with me know: I’ve got music blasting all the time. It’s a major part of my life. Music is pure emotion without any words.

(Song writers, I promise you, are geniuses.)

I think living without music would kill a little part of me. If I couldn’t be a writer, I’d definitely be a musician. But still, I’d rather go silent then dark.

I think I could remember the music better than I could remember sight. Memories fade–images fade–but I’m not certain about tunes. Then again, maybe it’s me.

Try this experiment: picture in your mind the face of a relative long gone. Describe their features, exactly how you remember. Now find a photo and compare. How accurate were you?

Next: try to sing an old nursery rhyme you learned as a child. Can you do it? Maybe Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star or the ABC song… Try one you can’t remember the words to. Can you still hum the tune?

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write: would you rather be deaf or blind?
  • Sit for one minute with your eyes closed in a busy or semi-busi location. After a minute or so, write down the sensations you had, the things you noticed with your other senses: touch, taste, sound, etc. Now try the same experiment with your eyes open. What’s the difference?
  • Find someone who won’t mind you invading their personal space. Now, look into his or her eyes. What do you see there? (Do you see something you haven’t seen before?) Is this the first time you’ve been this close? Eyes are supposedly the ‘windows of the soul.’ Write about your friend’s soul.
  • Write about a memory “through the eyes of a child.” That is, exactly how you remember feeling as a kid about it. Now try writing the same scene as “through the eyes of a stranger.” How do the perceptions differ?

Good luck!