Imagery and sensory detail ala Adair Lara Prompt #277

“Write five images every day, for seven days, using as many of the senses as possible.”— Adair Lara

From Adair’s book, Naked, Drunk, and Writing:

“Writing is turning your thoughts, abstractions, generalizations, and opinions back into the experiences you got them from.”

Adair’s example:

“Not ‘women my age become invisible,’ but ‘they handed drinks around and forgot me, again.'”

Using imagery involves the details about what happened.

Show what happened so that readers can see the scene, hear the sounds, feel the sensations, taste the elements, and smell the aroma.

Adair advises, “. . . every time you write a sentence, ask yourself, How can I show this? Try to get image and detail into every sentence. ”

Naked Drunk and WritingTidbits from Chapter Six, Using Images and Details:

“We want experience, not information. ‘Joan was distressed’ is information. ‘Joan looked away’ is an image. The reader notices Joan looking away, and has the pleasure of concluding for herself that Joan is distressed.”

Today’s writing prompt is the same one Adair assigned to her students on that hot August night in the octagonal room that served as her writing classroom, the room in the sunny yellow Victorian, where we had to walk up a gazillion stairs to reach the front door.  I so want to add, . . . and where we were greeted by her tail-wagging, smiling pooch, but that would be too much, wouldn’t it?

Writing prompt: Write five images for seven days using as many of the senses as possible. Set aside to simmer.

Stir the imagination when re-reading your list, looking for images that call to you, that want to be sniffed out, that won’t fade away, images that linger.

Use that imagery to write whatever comes up for you.

For more creative and juicy writing ideas, pick up a copy of Adair Lara’s book, Naked, Drunk, and Writing, with over seven pages of “Suggestions for Writing” as Adair calls these writing prompts.

Writing Prompt #276 and my freewrite in that post were inspired from Adair’s assignment first encountered on that hot August night in the octagonal room . . .


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  1. mcullen Post author

    My original list of images from Adair Lara’s 2009 summer writing class, coaxed into expanded sentences.

    1. I grieve for what he could have been but never was.

    Head bowed, heart heavy, unwilling to touch his needle pricked forearm I knew would be ice cold.

    2. She phoned yesterday with a single question that I answered in an instant.

    She phoned with a single question, violating my ear canal with her venom, igniting a short-fused answer.

    3. I’m glad she uncorked the bottle and let .. . I wish I could say fireflies release, but it’s too pretty of an image.

    She uncorked the bottle, hoping the spark of fireflies would ignite a truce, not expecting the maggots that crawled out.

    4. The sharp intake of breath when hearing that a friend died.

    “Jamie died.” My next breath felt like a knife slicing through my skin into my heart.

    5. Wind chimes.

    Glass shards danced carelessly, their volatile noise penetrated my brain, preventing sleep.

    6. Dew on the lawn.

    An early morning snack for the Bambi-like creatures who smacked their lips in anticipation.

    7. Snoring.

    Random snorts, following orders from brain central, attacked my sense of tranquility. My brain central retaliated by arcing my arm overhead in a bulls-eye attack, capturing the edge of the blanket and retreating to my hallowed space.

    8. San Francisco cable cars.

    A loud rumble sent adrenaline shooting through my veins, slowing when the rhythmic clanging of bells announced the only moving historical monument was ascending Tony Bennett’s city slopes towards the cerulean sky.

    You can read more sentence imagery inspired by this writing prompt at Prompt #276.

    Thanks, Adair Lara, for the inspirational prompts.

  2. Pingback: Details are critical – The Write Spot Blog

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