Teachers Write 7.26.16 Tuesday Quick-Write with Madelyn Rosenberg

Happy Tuesday! Guest author Madelyn Rosenberg joins us for today’s quick-write. Madelyn is the author of the Nanny X books, HOW TO BEHAVE AT A TEA PARTY, and HOW TO BEHAVE AT A DOG SHOW. Her quick-write today is about postcards!

Postcards

Last summer I came up with a new writing prompt and I had so much fun with it, I did it all summer long. I’m calling it “Postcard.” When I have students do the prompt in a classroom, I pass out index cards. When I’m doing it myself, I just scrawl on a page of my writing notebook.

The rules are simple: Describe the scene around you, using only 10 words or short phrases. Put one word or phrase on each line, so you’re laying it out like a poem. Think about your different senses as you study your scene and write it out. It’s a good way to practice working varied senses into whatever you write. Especially smell – I hate how often we leave out the sense of smell when it is so evocative/linked with memory. I like to include scraps of dialogue in my postcards, too.

You can use this exercise not just to write about the world around you, but to write about a scene in your current work in progress.

A few examples are below. Sometimes it’s more fun to put the title at the end, especially if you’re sharing with others.

Pool

Wet

Coconut

Non-greasy UV protection

Float

“Marco.”

Blue

Sunshine

Umbrella

“Polo.”

Splash!

 

Plane

“Drink or snack?”

“We are experiencing turbulence”

A carpet of clouds

Recycled air

Gingerale and tea

Angry stomach

Look for the exit over the wings

Books, kenken, in-flight magazines, barf bags

“Adjust your seatback position”

Map of the world

 

And here’s one from my daughter:

 

San Francisco Streetcar

“Three rights make a left”

Roller coaster

“Don’t block the exit!”

Wind

Screech!

Cold

“Hold on!”

Hills

“Just sayin’”

Slow. Fast. Slow.

 

Today’s Assignment: Write your postcard! Describe the scene around you, using only 10 words or short phrases. Put one word or phrase on each line, so you’re laying it out like a poem. Think about your different senses as you study your scene and write it out. And feel free to share your ten lines in the comments today!

 

42 Replies on “Teachers Write 7.26.16 Tuesday Quick-Write with Madelyn Rosenberg

  1. Dear Madelyn, thanks for sharing. What a cool idea. I think my students will enjoy this. Here is mine:
    PANIC
    Twisty
    Sweaty
    Tight
    Debilitating
    Dark
    Isolation
    Grasping
    Gasping
    Pleading
    Pulsing

    I hope that’s ten I couldn’t get my cursor to scroll up. My next postcard should be on frustration.
    Thanks again for this terrific prompt.

  2. This was perfect for me tonight as I made my overnight oatmeal inspired by a friend far away!

  3. Yellow
    Pink with green stripes
    Orange
    Wobbly table
    Windowsill full
    Green
    Hot
    Mild
    Chop
    Spice, just right!

  4. I love seeing/hearing these! And I do think it helps you strain words the words for a scene to find the right ones when you go back to your WIP. (Also,perhaps oatmeal for breakfast.)

  5. Home

    Fan
    Fuzzy poodle
    Fluffy kitties
    Blocks and toddler toys
    Barney and Elsa
    Mickey
    Uh Oh stinky diaper
    Comfy Couch
    Clinking wind chimes
    Dancing blue eyed little girl

  6. Thank you, Madelyn! What a terrific exercise that I will surely use myself and with my students. Here is my Postcard:

    Summer Camp Bliss
    Breezy zephyr through doors and windows
    Two hummingbirds flitting
    Motor boats zipping after, “Hit it!”
    Snoring lab
    Campers cheering sailing by
    Lake, waves unfolding
    Mountains cloaked in blue
    Swinging birdhouse
    Kayaks in color
    Dirt road is our highway

  7. Madelyn, what a great challenge to start my morning! I wrote my Postcard on my blog, but did not include a title as I wanted people to guess my location based on the descriptive words. Can you guess where I am? Let me know what you think! Here’s my blog post: http://bit.ly/postcard16

  8. What a fun start today!

    Kitchen

    Sticky
    Syrup
    Smears
    Overflowing
    Dishes
    Bubbling
    Boiling
    Clunking
    Wriggling
    Eggs

  9. Partly cloudy
    Slight breeze
    Scent of fresh air
    Slices of sunshine
    Steaming cup of coffee
    Word clouds
    Memory
    “To Do” list
    A good book
    Summer Mornings

  10. Infamous Southern heat
    Salty swimsuit
    Heat waves rising
    Flipping and flopping
    Coconut
    Soft towel
    Blinding sun
    Squeaky plastic float
    Splash
    Sweet relief

  11. Hi, Madelyn,

    I was poolside this afternoon, so my “postcard” is a lot like yours. I really enjoyed this activity and plan to use it with my sixth graders when we are working on descriptive writing. We write a descriptive piece about our Thanksgiving dinners, so this is the perfect pre-writing activity to get the creative juices (and the descriptive words) flowing. Thank you.

    Poolside

    Splish-Splash
    Shriek
    “Marco”
    Hum of a distant lawnmower
    “Polo”
    Scent of sunscreen
    Chlorine
    “Fish out of water”
    Moms staring at phones
    Comfy beach chair

  12. Excited kids
    Shelves of books
    Clicking computers
    Comfy chairs
    Beeping self-checks
    Reading eyes
    Lit windows
    Pattering rain
    Musty carpet
    Informative displays

    Do you know where we are? Yep, the library! I took my four nieces and nephews today.

  13. Kitchen table

    Salt and pepper shakers
    Candlesticks
    Black chairs
    Pink napkins
    White tablecloth
    Tervis tumbler
    Carpet?
    Beige walls
    Square table
    Apartment living

  14. Madelyn, I am SO ridiculously in love with this writing exercise. Have been using it with credit to you!) in my in person writing workshops today — so wonderful to adapt to solving story problems or getting to know characters better. Describing a character’s bedroom or school, dialogue between characters! My teens are LOVING it tonight!! They’re writing away as I type this! Writing forward in their manuscripts based on their postcard poems. THANK YOU!

  15. What an amazing quick write!

    I spent a great day at the Library of Congress and was perusing some awesome activities of found poetry with primary source documents. Led me to think of my 10 words/phrases.

    My Day as an Imperfect Reverso

    My
    Fragment of history
    Lost map
    Covered knowledge
    Reverent learning
    Teachers
    Learning reverently
    Knowledge revealed
    Maps charted
    Past of stories
    Each piece
    Ours.

  16. I just traveled from Washington state to new york today with a 2 year old so I think this is a perfect day for a 10 word poem!

    Travel

    Long
    Tiring
    Numb
    Exciting
    Anxious
    Cramped
    Lack of Personal Space
    Bonding
    Accomplishments
    Finished

  17. I’m a little late to the party, but thank you for the prompt! Here is my ten-line poem. It took several tries to get it ordered correctly to tell the story.

    Fluorescent Lights
    Hard chairs
    Carousel of Computers
    Click
    Goosebumps under a sweater
    Sniffle
    Cold Coffee
    Flip. Flop. Flip. Flop.
    A late arrival
    Yawn

    “Teaching Summer School”

  18. Thank you Madelyn for this wonderful exercise. I took a recent memory (last week) of a trip I took to Maine to visit three dear college girlfriends. One friend’s dad lives there on a beautiful peninsula, a small finger of land surrounded on three sides by the sea, and hosted the four “girls”, our hubbies, and babies. One night, after the babies were in bed, we gathered around the dinner table to a big feast of lobsters, mussels, corn on the cob, blueberry pie, and good wine. We got messy, told stories, and breathed in the moment of being together…a rarity for all of us, living scattered around the world. This writing prompt helped me record those memories. Thank you!

    Dinner Table at The Walker House in Maine

    Scarlet, steaming lobsters
    Slick fingers
    Shells cracking
    Zip of lemon
    Briny bites
    Splash of wine, splash of wine, splash of wine
    Legendary stories spun
    Belly laughs. No, souls in stitches!
    Old friends gathered to break claws
    A punctuation of voices, surrounded by the silent sea

      1. Thanks so much for the feedback, especially as I was a day late posting! I will definitely send it on to them. Being there is a place of peace, deep friendship and love, and memories.

  19. Super late to this, because I just found out about the project. Mine comes from a float trip a friend took my family on the other day.
    Float
    Water
    Daughter’s weight against my chest
    Rapids
    Bump
    Laugh
    Hawk circles in the brilliant blue sky
    Spin
    Drift
    Peace

  20. What makes my parent’s house in Louisiana “home”?

    *The marble board made by a a great great great on the table ready for a game between me and Mom
    *The plants….so many plants (and they’re ALIVE!!)
    *Mom and Dad
    *Going to the gun range with Dad
    *Sleeping in
    *A calm and relaxed, stress-free feeling
    *Cooking, sewing, shopping with Mom.
    *My fur sister, Callie
    *ALL THE BOOKS