Object Writing, Prose & Poetry Forum

April 21, 2019, 12:31:13 PM
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This week's words;

Sunday - Instructions

Monday- Motorcycle

Tuesday- Wildflower

Wednesday- Asparagus

Thursday- Stopwatch

Friday - Confetti

Saturday-Homesick



Word of the Day
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greyknights
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« on: April 10, 2019, 06:00:31 PM »

​The light flutter of the wind on the first few hairs sprouting up on my chest. The feeling of sweat beading down my front as I stand in the hot sun, a garden hoe in my hand. Like giant, confused birds, we scraped the dirt around each plant on the long rows of green spring lettuce. They unrolled like a carpet over the hills on the farm. The earthy dust rising to our noses along with the sharp, bitter acidity of a plant we had accidentally nicked with our hoe. As if it had been brutally cut down at the knees and now lied pumping a white sticky blood from where it once reached deeply into the dark, steamy damp soil. The lettuce leaves wilt in the sun, transforming into the shrunken, wrinkled skin around the necks of old people. The plant with slowly deflate over...
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Eloisenm
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« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2019, 10:00:41 PM »

Fantastic descriptions!
​Like giant, confused birds, we scraped the dirt around each plant on the long rows of green spring lettuce.

As if it had been brutally cut down at the knees and now lied pumping a white sticky blood from where it once reached deeply into the dark, steamy damp soil.

So fluid, a great story to read.
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greyknights
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« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2019, 07:20:15 PM »

Thank you! It's super helpful to see what lines conjure something. For example, I notice that both lines you reference are mostly visual similes. That's interesting. They also seem to incorporate a character/creature as their subject (e.g., "giant birds" and a gladiator/knight character without legs). Perhaps this character facilitates more involvement/empathy than something less humanoid, such as lettuce "unrolled like a carpet."

Before this object, I had been trying to avoid poetic language in an effort to push myself to find more words for sense data. I discovered that I find it challenging to be literal and specific with sense words, especially smell and taste. (Reading other's daily posts have been helpful.) Eventually, I would like to get better at building metaphors and similes around those senses too. For example, something like "the sticky lettuce sap tasted like sour milk and smelled like industrial dish soap." But this feels awkward and I'm not sure how to integrate it into a "story." I think I noticed that you often focus on a single narrative in your object writing. Do you have any recommendations for incorporating smell and taste?

Perhaps I was too enthusiastic with this reply... oh well...  Roll Eyes
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Eloisenm
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« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2019, 11:17:20 PM »

I'll join you in your enthusiasm!

I really adored your story in its entirety but the highlighted phrases were what stood out to me the most. I absolutely loved how the lettuce unrolling like carpet. The best part of your story was how connected it was.  I found it really easy to read and a little exciting - the kind of book you don't put down.

I think the idea of using "the sticky lettuce sap tasted like sour milk and smelled like industrial dish soap." feels awkward because it's out of context for the feel of your narrative. When I read your narrative it's warm and inviting where as the taste of the lettuce is harsh which for me would suit a story where the garden is a volatile place instead. For taste, you have an opportunity to discuss the taste in your mouth as sweat drips down your back - what do you taste when you're sweaty but fulfilled with your efforts? If your in a garden of green spring lettuce and they unroll like carpet over the hills, what does that smell like? Crisp, earthy, dank?

You covered smell really well with:

The earthy dust rising to our noses along with the sharp, bitter acidity of a plant we had accidentally nicked with our hoe.

Even "steamy damp soil" can conjure up smells. If you wanted you could say what the day smelled like, how you introduced the earthy dust and sharp, bitter acidity to the fresh nectar of spring etc.

I hope this helps! If it's not clear just smash another enthusiastic reply and I'll hit you up again!
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greyknights
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« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2019, 08:07:41 PM »

Thanks for the enthusiastic reply!  Smiley

I hadn't been paying attention to the "feel" in these object writing exercises before. I guess I was focused on other battles. But yes, that totally makes sense; trying to include something that interrupts the coherency of that "feeling" would feel awkward. I think directing my attention to this aspect will probably be enough for me to start improving.

Your reply reminded me of Pat Pattison's use of a musical "key" for building metaphors. I think I can use it to bridge the goals of maintaining a feeling and making metaphors. The feel/key of "warm and inviting" includes the note 'fresh nectar of spring,' not 'sour milk.' To create stronger metaphors that maintain the feeling of a piece, the notes I choose from the key of my metaphors (e.g., the bitterness of lettuce) should also be found in the key of the whole piece (e.g., warm and inviting). Or maybe I've just discovered a convoluted way to say the obvious. That happens sometimes.

Thanks again for your input!
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Eloisenm
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« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2019, 10:17:12 PM »

That's absolutely right! I feel like the "key" of the narrative or metaphor also needs to coincide with the feel (i.e. warm and inviting). If you consider Pat's lesson on stability and instability you could take a story that you intend to feel safe and secure and deliberately use a "key" that unhinges the narrative in a way where you know that it's meant to feel safe but you feel uncomfortable reading it, or feel that it's lying to you. That would still be sticking with the narrative if your intention is to be unstable with the story.

I suppose you were unintentionally focusing on feel by just acknowledging that the statement felt awkward. You definitely knew how it should feel.

For fun you could do an edit of the story, completely unhinging it so it feels less safe and beautiful. It would totally change the context while still being the same story.
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