Monday, June 4, 2012

"Block" Buster: Shifting Adjectives

Is your writing blocked by lack of new images and ideas? Is your vocabulary dial set on same-o, same-o? I recently tried a writing exercise I found to be helpful and fun...shifting adjectives.

Make a list of typical two word -- adjective, noun -- combinations, such as:
  • greased lightning
  • silk scarf
  • red licorice
  • nimble fingers
  • calm sea
  • hot iron
  • broken arrow
  • forked tongue
  • sturdy desk
  • idle hands
Then shift the adjectives down to the next noun (moving the last one to the top) and see what you get:
  • idle lightning
  • greased scarf
  • silk licorice
  • red fingers
  • nimble sea
  • calm iron
  • hot arrow
  • broken tongue
  • forked desk
  • sturdy hands
Shift the adjectives again, if you like (sturdy lightning, idle scarf, greased licorice)...

Or make a new list and start over.
  • smooth ride
  • cold rain
  • barking dog
  • blue ink
  • bouncing ball
  • narrow canyon
  • warm bed
  • crying child
  • rustling leaves
  • wagging tail
Turning to...
  • wagging ride
  • smooth rain
  • cold dog
  • barking ink
  • blue ball
  • bouncing canyon
  • narrow bed
  • warm child
  • crying leaves
  • rustling tail
After making the unusual combinations, take time to seriously consider them. Could you use some in your next story, or poem? What images come to mind? Can you connect them?

I made the mistake of making adjective/noun combinations before going to bed, and then couldn't get to sleep for thinking of the possibilities.  

When the wagging ride of sleep finally overtook me, I dreamt of cold dogs barking ink.

1 comment:

  1. LOVE IT! I signed up for an online creative writing class that starts June 20th. I can hardly wait! I was inspired by your email re: the writing retreat.