Settings: Oh, the Places You Could Go!

wooded path 7.13I collect names for my writing.

I also play an alphabet name game to put myself to sleep when insomnia strikes (I rarely make it past “M”).

Last night my two obsessions merged. I woke up around 3:45 A.M.–way too early! And I could not fall back asleep.

So, I decided to resort to my old insomnia standby–the name game. However, I was tired of playing masculine names, feminine names, and cities of the world, so I decided to make up names I could use in my fiction. I only intended to amuse myself until sleep overtook me, but I didn’t get past “A” before I realized I had to write these down.

Turning on only the dimmest of lights, I curled up in my nest in the family room with a white legal pad, a smooth flowing pen, and my cozy blanket made for me by a dear friend, and away I wrote. The rules:

  • three names for each letter of the alphabet
  • write brainstorm/free-write fashion–no stopping, no thinking
  • at least one one-syllable name per letter.

I was done in ten minutes. Here are some of the results of my middle-of-the-night exercise:

  • Crumbleigh
  • Impasse
  • Liss
  • Pickleburrough
  • Resolve
  • Zander

Now I do realize places with these names may already exist. However, I have not yet encountered them so they get to stay on my list. I will transfer the results of this exercise to my name book, so someday, when I am revising and I come across a blank where I did not want to stop during the drafting process to think of a name, I can turn to my little flowered book and choose one.

This was a most satisfying endeavor. Upon reaching “Zander,” I laid my pen and paper aside, went back to bed, and fell right to sleep.

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Pinterest: House of Inspiration

I have a friend who recently introduced me to Pinterest. Little did she know she was creating a monster.

Initially, I was reluctant to get involved with Pinterest. I’m a writer and a teacher. Surely there are better places to invest my time… Wrong! When I saw some of my friend’s collections, I fell in love.

So, what can you find if you visit me at Pinterest? Here’s the “boards” I’ve created so far. (See—I’m even learning the lingo!)

In the category of “Cooking” I have:

  • Appetizers, My Favorite Meal
  • Very Veggies
  • Cozy Casseroles
  • I am the Cookie Monster
  • Sandwiches
  • Pasta, Mm…
  • Breakfast!
  • Cookin’ Slow
  • Slurp it up, Soups
  • Salads
  • And…Too Cute Cakes

I know, this is a teaching and writing blog, so where is the literacy tie-in? (Well, first of all, don’t forget that cooking helps students learn Reading and Math.) In addition, I have two specifically “teaching boards”—one, oh-so-creatively named, “Teach” and the other “Language Arts and Literacy.” There is also an “About Books and Reading” board. Still in the very early planning stages are a “Books that Made Me Who I Am” board and another board, “Reading Log—Best of…” Which will tie back to my reading log here.

I also have some writing inspiration boards. I found and fell in love with some awesome journals that I had to “collect” (especially since I generally journal on my computer nowadays). Just looking at them makes me want to be creative.

Another board I have is “Storybook Style.” This contains items to inspire my writing for children and to delight my granddaughters if they ever wanted to look at Pinterest with YeaYea.

The forest, any kind of forest, always inspires me so there is a board for “Woods and Trees and Whispering Leaves.”

And then there are the “settings” boards…  Some I have collected in the category “Settings to Set the Imagination Free.” But there’s more, many more. Check out:

  •  “World Trippin’”
  • “Cathedrals and Sacred Places”
  • “Libraries”
  • “Homes, Furnishings, Accessories: Design!”
  • “Fairy Tale Illustration,” “Castles,” and “A Feast for the Eyes” (all still in very formative stages)
  • “All Creation Sings His Praise.” (The natural world is one of my biggest inspirations!)

If you, too, are on Pinterest, please pop by and see my goodies. (I feel like a curator with my very own awesome museum.) Get inspired to write, or start a “museum” of your own ;-), with the objective, of course, of inspiring yourself and others!

P.S. I’d post a link here, but I’m still too much of a Luddite and a newbie to have figured out how to do it? Can anyone help me?

Reading Response #36: Compare and Contrast Settings

Read for at least twenty to thirty minutes. When you are done, think about what you have read.

A Venn diagram can be used for comparing and contrasting. Draw one; it looks like this:

Make sure you have plenty of overlap in the middle section.

Now, choose two settings to compare and contrast. It can be two different settings from your reading, or one setting from your reading and a setting from your own life. Write the names of each setting over the circle that will hold it’s information.

Compare and Contrast the two settings, listing the ways they are the same in the shared central section of your diagram, and the ways they differ in the outer sections. (Remember, setting includes the time, place, and mood of a scene and the details used to depict this.)

When you are done, examine your Venn diagram. What kinds of insights does this enhanced view of setting give you into the characters or story? How did the lives of the “characters” impact their settings?

Write or discuss your response

For Pre-readers: Enjoy the book together. When done, ask your pre-reader how individual aspects of the story’s setting are or are not like where you are together.

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.

OR

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.