Play with Your Words Writing Prompt #29: Take a Seat

This week’s creative writing prompt will ask you to practice your characterization skills or to exercise your descriptive writing with a focus on setting.

Look at the picture below:

Chairs for Writing Prompt
Choose a chair for a setting or character-based writing exercise.

Choose one chair.

Describe the character (or critter) that would have that chair in his home or her office or its bedroom, or who might wish to own the chair. What does that chair say about that character’s personality? About her hopes and plans, his fears and challenges. Now create a scene in which this chair is featured. Reveal what you’ve learned about your character through his or her actions, speech, and thoughts.


Describe a room in which this chair sits. What sits beside it? What other furnishings are in the room? Is it carpeted, slate floored, out-of-doors? What is the mood of the space? Time of day? Now, create a scene that takes place in this environment you have created. Bring in two or more characters and have them interact. Be sure your chair makes an appearance in the scene.

When done share your choice of chair and your writing with your writing partners. Compliment each other on the strengths you see in the writing. Ask questions concerning the things about which you would like to know more.

Have fun together!

For Preschoolers:   Show him the picture of the chairs. Ask her to pick a chair she likes. Talk about the chair a little bit. Ask him who the chair belongs to, what this character or critter is like, and what kind of things the character or critter who likes this chair would like. Write down the child’s response and leave room for her to draw her own picture of the person and the chair.

When done, read the child’s words back to him, pointing to each word as you say it (to reinforce the one-to-one relationship of spoken and written word). Display your child’s handiwork somewhere she can enjoy it and share it with others.

These chairs were featured in an ad for Furniture by Lee, in the November 2010 issue of Traditional Home magazine.


Play with Your Words! Art Prompt #2: Voice

I am so excited to share my second art prompt. The images here are were created by Lisa Telling Kattenbraker whose enthusiasm for developing the literacy of young readers and writers has led her to work not just with me, but others who want to get young people interested in reading and writing.

Look at the two images below.

Choose a person/creature from one of the images to write about.

Consider the following questions:

  • Who is this character?
  • What is he doing?
  • Where is she going?
  • Why is he headed there?
  • Has she experienced any opposition to her reaching her destination?
  • How does he feel about what he is doing?
  • What does she hope will be the outcome of her actions?

Now write the scene for the character from the picture in first person point of view, using the character’s own voice.

Please share your stories with each other. Enjoy the novelty and creativity of each perspective. Point out the strengths of each person’s writing.

Share your responses as a comment. I’d so love to read the stories you’ve created for these pictures.

And have fun!

This month’s Play with Your Words! Art comes to you courtesy of Lisa Telling Kattenbraker. Check out more of Lisa’s wonderful contemporary american batiks at

Play with Your Words #14—Sentence Fluency/Pacing

Pacing and flow are important in writing, particularly in fiction writing.

For this week’s Play with Your Words exercise, you will need to look at a work of fiction you have recently read.

Find a passage in the story where there was lots of excitement and action. Select one half to one full-page from this section and do a sentence length analysis. Count up the number of words in each sentence and list them.

For example:

  • Sentence 1: ___ words
  • Sentence 2: ___ words
  • Sentence 3: ___ words
  • Sentence 4: ___ words
  • Sentence 5: ___ words
  • Sentence 6: ___ words
  • Sentence 7; ___ words
  • Sentence 8: ___ words

Add up the total number of words. Then divide the total number of words by the number of sentences you analyzed. In my example, that would be: total number of words divided by 8.

On average, how many words per sentence did the author use in this active, exciting part of the story?

Now select a peaceful, calm part of the story and count up the sentence lengths for about one half or one page. Total the number of words and divide by the number of sentences for the average number of words per sentence.

What kind of scene used the shorter length sentences?

What kind of scene used longer sentences?

Write two scenes, at least ten sentences in length, using what you now know to create one active and exciting scene and one peaceful scene.

Share your results with your writing friends or family. Remember to let each other know what you liked in their work.

I’d love to see some of your scenes as comments here! Happy Writing!