For 5 minutes, list “horrible” things that have happened to you. Note: You decide how horrible. I could list my dad’s death. I could also list my dog peeing on the couch right before my company arrived. I could also list dropping hot coffee on my lap as I drove to work.
Pick one of those events and write down as many details as you can. What does the couch look like? What music was I listening to when I realized I had just put my hand into a puddle of dog urine? What colors where the walls painted? Was something cooking and could I smell it? What shoes was I wearing? You get the idea.
I like to think that a novel is the sum of the choices the author has made. Why that word there? Why this symbol? Why name that character that? Etc.
Movies and plays, too, can be thought of in a similar way. The director makes choices that answer question like: Why that costume? Why this lighting? Why a small dog instead of a big dog?
Take your “horrible” event and all of the details of it and write the scene with the cold detachment of a director. This will ask you to, again, look at the language you use; do you “cue,” “cut,” or say “action”? Will the director be the sole voice of the poem? Will the director appear at all?
It also asks that you impose an order. While I think my dog peeing on my couch is just another of life’s less-than-zen moments, a director must consider how it forwards the plot. What does the director want the audience to notice first in the scene?
Do you include stage direction? [Lights rise on a room empty except for a small dog. Dog exits. Spot light stays on the couch where the dog was. From the kitchen, a woman’s voice is heard humming.]
Does the detachment provide humor, as it might in the dog pee scenario? Does it offer a process through which you can grieve as it might if I write about the night my father died? What event are you best served by writing about?
Note: Losers*, if you’re planning on slamming on Monday 4/14, this prompt fits the theme.
*I’m not a total jerk; the slam is called LoserSlam and we have a sense of humor about ourselves.