Friday, February 8, 2008

Weekend Writing Workout #13 - Wishes, Lies, Dreams #2 of 6

Is the opposite of lying telling the truth? We'll find out in this next exercise.

There's a really great group writing exercise I play when I lead writing workshops called "opposites." Each student writes a line on a piece of paper and then passes it to the next person. That person writes the opposite of what the line says, folds the paper so that only their line is showing and passes it again. The next person writes the opposite of that line and folds it again. They keep passing the papers, writing the opposite, and folding it so that only one line is showing until it gets around the room.

When you unfold the papers, you usually get a fantastic surprise.

This exercise is kinda like that, only you write it by yourself.

First, think up a wacky lie. Something a little quirky or surreal is good, like the "moon is made of green cheese." Then, write the opposite of that line, and the opposite of that line, and again, and again until you have written at least 10 or 12 lines. The odd lines should be the lies and the even lines the truth, right?

Not really, but when you get to the last line, you right... "and/but the truth is..."

When you play with opposites, don't be too LITERAL, otherwise you'll just go back and forth between: The sun shines during the night, the moon darkens during the day, the sun brightens up the night, the moon darks up the day... that's boring. Make it a little more creative than that.

The "opposite" can be whatever you define it to be. If it sounds strange, you're probably on to something.

These are both from students in one of my creative writing workshops:


Cats with no tails can see into the future
Dogs with tails regret the past
Domesticated lions chase the wind
Turtles lie low in the hot sand
the ocean is home to wild dolphins
the sky will not support elephants
the ground beneath my feet welcomes tadpoles
my skin shivers when I think of pterodactyls
warmed by the fire, I dream of skeletons
on the snowtopped mountain I forget about meat
the plants cry tears of molten lava
and the truth is animals are made of air

This one takes a few surprising turns:

I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die
I saved a woman from drowning so she could be a star
I joined the circus in order to be forgotten
On the marquee was my name in lights
In the dungeon I turned to bones where
I dreamed of castles and staircases made of air
I sit down for breakfast, just an ordinary guy
but my name is in the headlines for my rotten crimes
so I moved to Africa out in the bush alone
the truth is I am surrounded by millionaires

Try it a few times and see what you come up with. Have fun with it!


Vicki said...

The retreat was amazing and Michael was great! We went to dinner where he challenged me (along with a couple of others) to do something that we really felt would help our writing. For at least three months.

The workshops were fab and I learned quite a bit. The movie night was Sideways, which I ended up loving. Some of the people did not see it as a romantic comedy, but the sub text was amazing.

Ummm...I've also tagged you and I promise this is not a hard one. :D

You can find the info on my blog.

Danika / OpenChannel said...

Sounds like a productive time. I loved Sideways, too.

Tagged? Uh-oh! I'll take a look...

julia said...

Both wonderful poems, but the second one really rocks. LOVE the final line in the second one!!

I may have to borrow this form for a future poem or seven.

artpredator said...

dang, girl friend you must be bizee!!

gathering gal energy here tomorrow night to fight the evil church of the asshole neighbors and am asking you to send some mojo this way during the lunar eclipse

for more, go to my blog (hey i'm #4 top wordpress blogs right now--over 300 hits on my lunar eclise post--yeah, google me--lunar eclipes 2/2/08 baby!)

Vicki said...

Where are you??? We miss you in the Land of Blog. :D

Danika / OpenChannel said...

Hi Ladies! Yes, I've been absent and missed you all, too.

And yes, AP... I've been BIZEE!

Danika / OpenChannel said...

You must check out the PSCS students' work around this assignment. It's a hoot! They did a great job.