100 Words or more: Smoke

During my last months in Helena, the smoke from the distantly burning forest fires covered the streets and the mountains in a gray veil, obscuring the valley and the hills. On some days, it blurred even the trees across the street, and you could feel it grating on your throat each time you breathed in; on worse days, it covered the sky, the only color in the vast grayness the blood red of the polluted sun, reduced to an ichorous sore hanging dead in the air. Sometimes, though, the sunlight was beautiful, when it split into crimsons and scarlets as it drifted towards the horizon. I can remember seeing our living room once coated in red at dusk, the couch and the coffee table and the piano pulsing in the warm and sinister light.

Revision Exercises

Hey guys: this came up in a couple of meetings with my group this week, and I thought it might be helpful for the group as a whole. If you’re looking for a fun way to start digging into your nonfiction — stranger studies, nonfiction shorts from last week, whatever you’ve got down on paper for the longer essays — some revision exercises are a great way to start looking at what you’ve written from a radically different perspective. Even if you don’t, in the end, end up going to the extremes that some of these exercises advocate, it came be a great way to break open a piece that’s feeling static. They’ll be helpful, I hope, as the semester continues too. Hope this helps, guys!

1. Cut one piece in half.
2. Put one  piece of prose into line breaks.
3. Put one poem with line breaks into prose.
4. Take the ending of the piece, and make it the beginning — write it backwards.
5. Change the point of view.
6. Change the verb tense.
7. Cut off the beginning and the ending.
8. Change the form or structure of one piece. 
9. Take scissors and physically cut up the parts of a piece, then rearrange. 
10. Stitch two pieces together, finding the link or common thread.