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Monday, February 27, 2006

PROMPTING THE MUSE

"Let us sacrifice to the Muses."
Solon 638-559 BC from "Plutarch - The Banquet of the Seven Wise Men."

For a couple of years now I've been teaching a class called Prompting the Muse. This is a writing class designed to motivate people who need their creativity jump-started or to get people who want to write, to get started. In the class I give prompts, and the students can write any genre and in any form such as prose, poetry, plays, essays etc. It's always interesting and often very exciting to see the results.

Some example of what kind of prompts I use in class and for weekly assignments include writing from music, visual prompts, one liners, monologue, observations, writing haiku, exercises in point of view and dialogue and flash fiction (stories written from a picture in which they have 5 minutes to write whatever the picture invoked.) It's a lot of fun and really gets people's creative juices stimulated. I also encourage 10 minute timed writings on any subject, random or by choice, every day. These stream-of-conciousness writings often can be expanded and developed into longer stories.

I use the same prompt technique in the Memoirs Write from the Heart group that I instruct once a week. As in my Prompts class, besides the weekly assignments we do 10 minute writings in the class. Examples of these are: Practical jokes; A metaphor that likens the self to an inanaimate object ("I am a fan" "I am a book.") and how it relates to your personality; Have you ever fibbed to save your skin? Write about your mother's kitchen, etc. Of course I also use music in this class too, because songs invoke many memories.

Last week in my Memoir class we had an assignment that had such amusing and creative results I decided to try it myself on my other blog http://ruthakik.blogspot.com
This assignment was: Imagine two or more sides of yourself as distinct characters each with reasons to be angry with or love and need the other part.
As I'm always talking to myself (my other blog is titled "Conversations with Myself") I decided to try it. And you can too. Just see what you and your alter-ego have to say to each other. It's quite intriguing. And it's fun, too! I've also written the one about likening yourself to an inamiate object, and I might post that next.

These little 'prompts' are a good exercise to get yourself started. That being said, I better return to work on the novel. I know, I said I'd get started right away today. But it's Monday, and I had to do the laundry and after such a busy weekend I needed some time to get my head back together again. Okay...enough excuses...off you go!

"When toilsome contests have been decided, good cheer is the best physician, and songs, the sage daughters of the Muses, soothe with their touch."
Pindar 518- 428 BC "Nemean Odes" IV l 1

"Whatever a poet writes with enthusiasm and a divine inspiration is very fine."
Democrites 460- 370 BC fragment 18 (apparantly the earliest reference to the madness or divine inspiration of poets.)

5 comments:

Gabriele C. said...

Oh, oh, that sounds like a plotbunny breeding farm.

I don't need more story prompts, I need less. *grin*

But I think it's a good idea for those who don't have a plotbunny farm in their living room.

Wynn Bexton said...

You're right, Gabriele, that's what the course is designed to do: give people lots of ideas to write from. As for Memoirs, what one person writes from a prompt usually reminds others about similar incidents and so there is a constant spin-off of ideas. It's very stimulating and fun too.

Sam said...

Off to look at the prompt - it sounds like fun!

WestEnd Writer said...

Beats the hell out of staring at a blinking cursor.

m

Wynn Bexton said...

Hi there W.E. Writer: I've got a gold mine of prompt ideas, but the very best one is still to take a long walk around the seawall and meditate. Works every time to evoke the Muse.