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Exercise Wednesday: Things that haunt, shimmer at the edges, are barely there…

October 31, 2012

Jamie Morris is back with another prose-writing prompt. Jamie has agreed to give us one prompt a month starting in January. Hooray for us!

A writing “prompt” or “trigger” is a starting place for a piece of writing that comes at the writer from an external source. It could be a suggestion that comes from a book or a teacher or something that startles your inner writer into taking notice–and notes! Wherever a prompt comes from, the purpose of writing from that impulse is to help you try an approach you’re unlikely to find on your own.

In this way, writing to a prompt is like leaping from an airplane and hoping the chute will open–fast! Without the wind-up of your conscious mind, you plunge your writer-self into unplotted creative territory and hope that it will catch hold of an updraft and soar. (Okay, so maybe a more apt simile would be to hang-gliding. Whatever, here is a chance to just leap! See just how far can you free-fly.)

Make a quick list of ephemeral images–things that linger, that haunt, that shimmer at the edges, that are barely there . . . like,

  • The scent of perfume or after shave that abides after the wearer has left the room
  • A smudge of a finger print on a bathroom mirror
  • The gleam of one strand of a spider’s web strung across a path

Try to get fifteen of such images (you’re stretching your image-brain just by making the list), then either use as many of the images as you can in a scene or pick the one that is most evocative and see where it takes you.

Jamie Morris is a book-coach and writing workshop leader who brings community-oriented leadership, cooperative learning techniques—and what some call a literary “sixth sense”—to her work with writers. Central Florida’s first AWA (Amherst Writers & Artists) workshop leader, Jamie, a CRLA (College Reading and Learning Association) Master Writing Consultant, FWA member, and graduate of the Rollins College Writing Program, works with fiction and non-fiction writers around the country. Her focus is on “helping writers become authors.” Website:


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