Writing Exercise: Describe One Things Ten Ways

Last week’s challenge: Random Song Challenge

First up: an administrative detail. For those who took part in the Voicemails From The Future challenge — Reggie Lutz, you won a chronofact from the proceedings! Bounce me a message to terribleminds at gmail dot com. Yay!

(Er, edit: I don’t need everyone to write me an email. Just Reggie, thanks!)

Now: onto the challenge.

This week — not a flash fiction challenge so much so much as an experimental writing exercise. I want to do these from time to time just to keep things fresh around here.

So, here’s the drill —

I want you to take one thing and describe it ten different ways.

That thing can be… anything. An object. A person. A sensation. A place. An experience.

But I want you to focus on it and describe it multiple ways. Ten, as noted.

Each no more than a sentence of description.

(Feel free to choose a real world thing. Say, a lamp in your corner, or the flu you had last week.)

Differ your approaches in how you describe this thing.

Try pinballing from abstraction to factual — from metaphorical to forthright.

The goal here is just to flex our descriptive muscles a bit.

An example? After jogging the other day, I had a peculiar feeling in my face and I — as I am wont to do — went through the various ways I might describe this feeling. It was a hot pulsing. Like my heart was in my head. Like I was a goldfish inside an aquarium and some kid was tapping on the glass. Like both the basketball dribbling and the court on which it bounced. This is just a thing I do: I see a person or experience a sensation and I ask: how would I describe that?

Try it out. Pick a thing. Ten different descriptions.

Feel free to do this directly in the comments or at your blog (post a link).

Got till March 7th, noon EST to jump on in.


76 responses to “Writing Exercise: Describe One Things Ten Ways”

  1. Fun exercise!

    Unattractive Female Character in a short story:

    1. She looked like Micheal Jackson but skinnier, and she had little arms like a T Rex. She came out of nowhere, none of us saw her coming.
    2. She looked like Steve Buschemi, she had large wet eyes and a mouth like a cat fish.
    3. She looked like Mr Bean, but chubby, and more nervous.
    4. She looked like Jonah Hill from the wolf of wallstreet, but with curlier hair… a thin version of Jonah Hill, but a Jonah Hill none the less
    5. She had a big punch-bowl forehead and a mouth like Gary Busey
    6. She was meg from family guy, only greasier, and with less clothing
    7. She was pale and had a big overbite, she looked like a teenage vampire with a broken jaw
    8. She had a nose like a twinkie, and cheeks that looked like they were full of frosting, she looked at me like I was an appetizer at Chilies
    9. Her face and sideburns made me think of the TV show Alf, I did not want to get anything too close to her mouth.
    10. She was very unpleasant, she smelled like pork and beans, the cause of it was either her unbrushed teeth or the food stains on her sweater, she was a dirty little muppet, I knew we couldn’t trust her, but we had to.

  2. 1. I walked past him every day, the dusty contour kicked up in asphalt, a pair of mismatched shoes tucked under a rock. I kept my distance. He smelled like sewage. And fried chicken.

    2. He was old and humbled by age, despair, a lick of insanity. Probably “released” from a community mental health center during the Reagan administration.

    3. He wore a red-white-and-blue tie as a bandanna knotted at his forehead with a snag of hair white sticking out. The tail drooped into his face, covering an eye.

    4. A sad sight, the old homeless man, but the chuckle came anyway. He was a clown, for godssake. And that beard, lordy, it was infested.

    5. An out-of-tune piano sitting sideways off the curb, a paper sign taped to it; “free piano, water damaged”. A handful of pennies and lint. A chewed-up leather wallet. A Vegas hangover. A failed twelve-step program. This is what I saw when I looked at my father in his cardboard house, sleeping next to a pile of human feces.

    6. The homeless man was starving for attention. Rimshot.

    7. I’ve always liked old Pirate Bob, even though he smells like burnt hair and farts more often than he doesn’t.

    8. I’m sorry, what man? I didn’t see anyone.

    9. An old God, heartbroken.

    10. He’s a wormy-bellied dog finally learned his place in the world.

  3. Writing Exercise: This was fun!

    I recently read the epic novel “Mystic River” written by Dennis Lehane. Awesome book by the way. I knew there was a movie made so I had to see if it lived up to the book. obviously it didn’t but what irked me is the way the actors try to imitate a Boston accent. Being a Boston native, I can tell you that we DO NOT sound like that and why do they try – if you want an authentic movie based in Boston, hire Boston actors!

    Anyway, my list of 10 ways to describe one thing revolves around that pet peeve of mine…

    “When actors try to imitate a Boston accent in a movie”

    In no particular order

    1) Like a hound dog trying to whistle

    2) Its not wicked pissa

    3) Pulling teeth without any novacaine

    4) Understanding Charlie Brown’s parents

    5) Trailer trash speaking fluent french

    6) Going against your gut feeling

    7) Snooki and the whole cast of “Jersey Shore” having a serious conversation while stoned

    8) A burglar getting caught taking a shower in the same house he just robbed

    9) Old ladies gossiping to each other using bullhorns

    10) Fran Drescher’s laugh in the show ” The Nanny”

    11) A misconstrued fart

    12) Bob Dylan singing – anything!


Speak Your Mind, Word-Nerds

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: