Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Chair Game: A Writing Exercise

 Sometimes I get caught up in the gravitational force of writing, and I don't want it to stop. If I'm tempted to slow down and look for the right word or image, I will lose momentum. So I use "markers," plain old nouns that keep the work flowing.
For example, if a character sits in a chair, I might see every detail--the ball-and-claw feet, the smooth mahogany, the faded leather cushion. If not, I won't stop to conjure an image (unless I'm secretly wanting to goof off). I'll just write "chair" and move on.
My writing partner (my subconscious) will ponder the details.

Just like in real life, a fictional chair isn't just a chair.
It can be weather-beaten...

 French and formal...


In a daffodil field... 

or a city street. 

It can be a throne.. 

It can be twiggy and overlook a graveyard...

or it can be in a garden.

What about the season? Is it winter, near a frigid shore? 

Or in Kenya?

What color is the chair? Is there more than one?

Later, you'll find the markers and inhabit that chair.
And the details will come.

Like, a cute guy sitting in a white plastic chair. He's a jilted groom...but why is he smiling?
"The details are not the details. They make the design."
--Charles Eames