NaNoWriMo Tips: My Favorite Things

Do you remember the song “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music?

Raindrops on roses
And whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles
And warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Cream colored ponies
And crisp apple strudels
Door bells and sleigh bells
And schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things

Try this writing experiment:

  1. Number a piece of paper from 1 – 25.
  2. Set the timer for 6 minutes.
  3. Now, make a list of your favorite things – exclude spouse and children.

When done with the list, look at which of the five senses are predominant. Taste of food? Smell of weather?

Be aware of how you remember things, and incorporate those descriptions into your writing, remembering to expand your favorite things to include all the senses, too.

You can find more writing tips, NaNoWriMo prompts, and writing tips for NaNoWriMo on our Writers in the Grove site.


Writer’s Toolbox: Geometric Shapes

It went “Zip” when it moved
And “Bop” when it stopped
And “Whirrr” when it stood still
I never knew just what it was and I guess I never will.

Chart of Geometric Shapes from Playbuzz.The Tom Paxton song made famous by Peter, Paul, and Mary, as well as John Denver, describes a thing that defines description, a child’s toy that was amusing all the same.

When it comes to describing the physical shape of an object, we can’t get away with just the sound effects. We need the words.

The basic geometric shapes are:

  • lines
  • curves
  • angles
  • triangles
  • square
  • rectangle
  • pentagon
  • pentagram
  • hexagon
  • octagon
  • polygon
  • circle
  • arc
  • ellipse

Then we add variations on the above. These are geometric shapes based upon lines and planes, but what about solid figures or 3-dimensional shapes?

  • cube
  • cylinder
  • rectangular prism
  • pyramid
  • tetrahedron
  • octahedron
  • polygon
  • sphere
  • cone

What shape is a carrot? Do you know? Is it a triangle? No, it’s an inverted cone. Is the sun a ball? Yes, it is a ball, more specifically, the sun is a sphere.

The words you use to describe a shape may be technical or playful, finding similes to represent their shapes, such as “he was as thin and lanky as a much-used toothbrush.”

Did you know that there are some personality tests that use geometric shapes to represent a person or personality?

From “Geometric Shapes: Simple and Unusual Personality Test,” if the triangle is your preferred shape:

This form symbolizes leadership. Main ability of triangles is to focus on goals and deeply and quickly analyze situations. A Triangle is a very confident person who wants to be right in everything. Triangles find it difficult to admit their mistakes, are easy to train, and absorb information like a sponge. Their career gives their life meaning.

Here are some charts and web pages to add to your writer’s toolbox to help you define the geometric shape of the objects, and possibly the characters, in your writing. We’ve also included some lists of words to describe the shape of objects.

The Book

The following is by Writer’s in the Grove member, Bev Walkler, a poet, author, painter, and family historian.

It laughs, it cries, it shouts, it sings,
  and makes no sound at all
It’s a photo, a painting, a place to live
  you can hold in the palm of your hand.
It holds everything you can ever imagine,
  and sees nothing.
It has no hands or feet or brain
  to do what it proclaims, still
It builds a house, makes a quilt, sees an atom,
  takes you to the moon.
It comforts, cajoles, strikes terror, or peace,
  Depends on what you put in it.
It is the still small voice
  of all there is, was, or ever will be.

Prompt: The Haven

The following prompt comes from the book “Beasts in My Belfry” by Gerald Durell from chapter 2, “A Lust of Lions.” The following describes an official building at Whipsnade Zoo in the UK, one of the first zoos to attempt to provide “natural” quarters for their wildlife, and his adventures as a young man working there, determined to become a wildlife specialist.

The nerve centre of the section was a small, tumble-down hut hemmed in by a copse of tangled elder bushes. The hut wore a toupee of honeysuckle at a rakish angle, practically obscuring one of its two windows and so making the interior dark and gloomy. Outside it sported a battered notice-board on which was the euphemistic title “The Haven.” The furnishings were monastic in their simplicity – three chairs in various stages of decay, a table that rocked and jumped like a nervous horse when anything was planed on it, and a grotesque black stove that crouched in one corner pouting smoke through its iron teeth and regurgitating embers in quite incredible quantities.

The prompt was to describe something, preferably an inanimate object, using anthropomorphic descriptions. Make us see the character of the thing.

Given the Answer

The following is based upon the NaNoWriMo prompt, The Answer is Blue, and written by Writers in the Grove member, Ann Farley.

Question, if you will, the sky,
at turns sapphire, robin’s egg, pink-gray
glistening like scales down a salmon’s side,
shifting with the wind and rain, sun and moon.

Question the ocean, a lake, this small pond
reflecting an opalescence, shimmering,
or suddenly so flat it pulls you in deep,
just a trick of light, playing into the dark.

Question the eyes of a newborn
searching for focus, watery wash of pigment,
unaccustomed to all this brightness,
delicate orbs that deepen and set in time.

Question those favorite jeans of yours,
washed and worn beyond softness,
a sort of ready comfort rarely found;
at their very finest just before the fray.

Question, even, your own sweet mind
and its tenuous tether to your heart,
a relentless tugging, calling for change,
those low places you go to sort it all out.

Question all of it, again and again.
Keep quiet watch, for the answer is blue.

October 22,2015

Dancing in Water

The following was written by Writers in the Grove member, Lorelle VanFossen, inspired from the Prompt: Palindrome Meets Pantoum.

Giggles and grins
Droplets tinkle and fall
Sun flashes gold
Hands windmill
Droplets tinkle and fall
Splashing diamonds
Hands windmill
Dancing in water
Sun flashes gold
Dancing in water
Giggles and grins