PHOTO-LAZERIZING EXERCISE

Select a photograph that depicts a scene. Choose a detail in the photo (not a person) and possibly the tiniest detail you can make out in the picture. It should be a detail that calls to you somehow. Perhaps it is the first detail you noticed. Or maybe it is the detail you find your eye going back to even when you are trying to find other things. Perhaps it repels you. Perhaps it makes you happy. Begin to describe it, allowing the description to tail off into musings, until the story spins into being from the detail.

 

THE ACTIVITY-DESCRIPTION TECHNIQUE

Describe a scene, person, or object, not simply by striving for power in the language of physical description -- this sometimes produces poetry but often tails off into purple prose. Instead, describe your object by putting it into action. When you put things into action like this, they have a tendency to start doing things you never anticipated, and they may take you places that surprise even you. Do this a few times, and perhaps one of your descriptions will begin to spin of its own force and give you the power and direction to come out with an entire piece. If that doesn't happen this time, don't be discouraged. Just do a few descriptions to get the hang of using the activity-description technique. (Note: Read more about the "Activity Description Technique" in the Instructor Notes and Articles section of this website.)