Descriptive Writing Prompts...

Such As Word Lists?

Why and How?

Inspiration, Motivation and
A Kick in the Pants

by Kathy Coogan

Our small group of writers frequently jostles our creativity by using descriptive writing prompts encouraging the use of a Words List. Random words are added to a list. In one circle of three faithful writers,each of us suggested three words. We gently challenged each other to use all of the nine words in a single piece. Essay, poem, fiction: any genre to be fair game.

We each promised to use them all and to return the next week to share the results. The process is simple but not always easy. Remember we're writers and we have lots of words at our disposal. Words like sashay (to amble) or did we mean sachet (a scented packet)? Even homonyms (or homophones as some call them) are fair game. The only rule was: Use them all! Go for it, no matter how improbable the list.

In full disclosure, I'll admit that I've employed writerly tricks to use every word. I've even named a character Jasmine, when I couldn't figure for the life of me how to plant that flower in my short short story about a dissipated barfly. Somehow the irony worked. But even if it doesn't always, the process is fun and often silences the self-critic who seeks to sabotage us.

To prove the success of one Words Prompt and to demonstrate the variety of subject, style and point of view that can bubble to the surface, read the pieces that we wrote using this words list:

•Sashay/ sachet

Read my story titled The Watermelon. It is a clear example of a word list prompt that created a spontaneous image that needed to be written.

Now, for a totally diferent take, read Mo Conlan's Watermelon Noir

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