Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Metaphorically-Speaking: Crystal Chan's Wednesday Writing Workout

Crystal Chan’s writing in her debut middle grade novel Bird (Atheneum/Simon & Schuster) shines, pure and simple, much like the story’s star, twelve-year-old Jewel.
Posted comments from several readers of Monday’s (Soaring!)Student Success Story  who read the novel’s beginning pages on Crystal’s website chorus this truth.

Lucky us that Crystal agreed to share a Wednesday Writing Workout with our readers.

And, don’t forget to enter our Book Giveaway to win an autographed copy of Bird.  The deadline is February 14.
Thanks, Crystal, for sharing this Wednesday Writing Wokout – as well as – your story and Bird with our TeachingAuthors readers.

Happy soaring (metaphorically-speaking)!

Esther Hershenhorn

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Good writing uses metaphors – metaphors add sparkle to your prose and can quickly convey ideas that otherwise would get muddled up.
Take this passage, which is from my novel, Bird:

We slowed down when we reached the thin, outlying trees, which seemed to sweat in the summer heat. The trees further in got bigger, thicker, and under their protective canopy they became a grove of mothers holding out their arms, shielding us from the sun.

See? [The trees] became a grove of mothers – with that short metaphor, an image is conjured up, feelings evoked, the tone set.

Here’s an exercise for you to write a poem using metaphors. I found it in Steve Kowit’s In the Palm of Your Hand: The Poet’s Portable Workshop.

Why poems? Because good writing is also poetic. And the more you can tune your ear to the cadence and rhythm of words, the more you can stretch your mind to make leaps and use metaphors as the bridge between them, the stronger and more compelling your writing will be.

1.       Take an object you have nearby – perhaps a ring, a piece of pottery or paper clip – and place it in front of you. Spend a few minutes looking at it quietly.

2.      Notice things about the object that you never noticed before. Allow yourself to feel it, smell it, observe it from various angles.

3.      Write four metaphors turning it into four different things: “The paperclip is a silver whirlpool…”

4.      Finally, write a poem about the object using some of those metaphors. Let the poem go where it wants to, its direction determined more by the inventive play of language than by your conscious efforts.

Happy writing!

Crystal Chan


Rosi said...

Thanks for the workshop. I am really looking forward to reading your book.

Carmela Martino said...

>>Because good writing is also poetic. <<
So true! Thanks for sharing this, Crystal.

Anne Bromley said...

Thank you, Crystal and Esther, for both the superb interview and this great "stretching" exercise. I love Kowitt's book and have used it in my own poetry workshops. Can't wait to read Bird!

Margaret Simon said...

Thanks, Crystal. I did the exercise. I also saved it to share with my students. Your book is beautiful. I got the copy I won on Caroline Starr Rose's blog! Thanks! I'll send a more formal note later.