Aliens Among Us

Here's a little writing exercise for you. Office6alien

Its very simple.  Write about something as if you are describing it to an alien who just landed on this planet.

So, for example:

The book is heavy and has a red cover, with glossy pages and lots of photos in it.

Descriptive, if a bit bland.

But, wait a minute.

Does an alien know what a book is?  Maybe not.  You can't be certain, can you?  So describe it a bit more.  What does it look like? Use all your senses to describe it.  Then move on.  Red?  What's red?  A cover?  What might that be? Glossy pages?  What's glossy?  What's a page?

Beware that you can go crazy doing this.  Its a documented fact.  For instance, say you describe the book as a rectangle.  Well, what's a rectangle?  A geometric figure?  What's that? And so on.

I rest my case.

On the other hand, have you ever read a book, often a creative non-fiction work, where the description of the most basic of things is what draws you in?  I have, and I admire these writers tremendously.  I think the trick to their ability is that they don't assume you know anything.  They respect your intelligence, but presume nothing.

Which is what this exercise does for you.

Here are some things to describe:

a mug

a lamp

a candlestick

a china cabinet

a bracelet

a rug

a painting

Remember, you're telling this to an alien new to this planet. Put the results in the comment section if you so desire. 

By the way, besides pugs and cats, my favorite things are aliens.  Which is why my office mascot (in photo above) is a purple one.  I like purple too, in case you hadn't guessed.

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6 Responses to Aliens Among Us

  1. Sarah Allen 01/28/2011 at 09:10 #

    This is great :) Fun challenge, and I can see it being very beneficial for future writing. Thanks :)

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  2. Charlotte Dixon 01/28/2011 at 09:46 #

    Hope its helpful, Sarah, report back and let us know!

  3. Heather Wibbels, LMT 01/28/2011 at 21:47 #

    Hi Charlotte – You may not remember me, but I was in the Writer’s Loft a LONG long time ago when Roy ran it. I just googled Louisville blogs and your site came up. Glad to have found it and will check back in regularly. Wonderful to see you’re still in love with writing! — heather wibbels, LMT

  4. Charlotte Dixon 01/28/2011 at 21:51 #

    I do remember you, Heather, I recognized your name right away! How cool to reconnect, thanks for dropping by and commenting. Are you in Louisville now? Love that town!

  5. Tess The Bold Life 01/29/2011 at 06:27 #

    I love this. I so need to improve my writing. I’m going to do this over the weekend. I may come back and post the results or do a post and link back to you. I think it’s the post I’ll do. Then also link to other blogs who have a richness with words. I failed English Freshman year in high school due to living on a working farm. Studies were last on the list after work was finished. I never took another writing class but it’s never to late, eh?

  6. Charlotte Dixon 01/29/2011 at 08:14 #

    Tess, whatever you decide to do, let me know. I love that you’re going to do this exercise over the weekend and share the results. And, I beg to differ, I love reading your blog (and so do plenty of others). Its impossible to write compelling blog posts without good writing skills!

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