Midweek Writing Prompt: Family Member as Character (11/19/14)
In my classrooms and workshops, I strive to create safe, welcoming writing communities where individuals feel free to explore ideas, stories, and concepts without judgment. After all, we need those spaces to get started. The judgment – of editors, professors, critical friends – will come later. But in the beginning, we need that soft, friendly embrace where anything is possible and everyone loves you. Let’s go there together.
When my schedule allows, I will post writing prompts for you to play with. I encourage you to write something and to share those initial efforts in the comment section, or even your response to the prompt – tell us what happened when you sat down to write. After all, some of these prompts will lead you down a path toward publication – I’ve seen that happen often enough to be confident in that statement.
Give it a try! 🙂
Writing Prompt: Family member as character
Imagine your family member in his or her favorite space. See him in that space. See her move through it, use it. Where is it? Which room or outdoor location is it? What does it look like, smell like, feel like? What’s the air temperature? What activity is she doing – how is she interacting with this space? Is she making something? Doing something? What does he look like – what is he wearing? What does her hair look like? (In Steel Magnolias, the mom is described as having hair like a brown football helmet – think in terms of similes (like, as) and create a simile for one of your family member’s physical features.) What are his physical imperfections? What does his breath smell like? What bad habit comes to life in this space?
In order to truly understand someone, you need to go beneath the surface. But sometimes exploring the surface will reveal truths about the person. The goal with this writing prompt is to write a deep description of your family member without using his or her name, and technical physical details (Lauren Small, 5 foot 7 inches, brown hair, slightly chubby). Instead, use the above questions (and others that they inspire) to write a description that is deeply settled in a specific space – help us to see, hear, smell, and feel this person in the way that YOU see, hear, smell, and feel this person. Allow your descriptions to speak about your deep love and care – without ever saying that you love and care for him or her. Write in third person. (No “I”.)
This prompt will be especially useful for anyone writing a memoir that involves their family.