Slicing from a Quick Write

Today's Slice is brought to you via the second day of Writing Camp. Here I am again killing two birds with one stone again, but hey, that's just the way I roll. LOL. 
Today's Assignment:
Tuesday Quick-Write:
Write for two minutes to describe a very specific place.
 When your two minutes are up, stop writing.
Now…if your place is real and you can go there, go there now.  I’ll wait….
If it’s far away, find a picture of it. If it’s not a real place, put yourself there in your mind. Now write for one minute about each of the following:
  • Everything you SEE – Pay attention to big things and tiny things. Search for concrete details.
  • Everything you HEAR – Be specific. Don’t just say “a scraping sound.” Say a “high-pitched, raspity-raspity-screeeeeaking noise.”  You can make up words if you want.If you aren’t in the place, try to find a video. Or guess what you might hear.
  • Everything you SMELL – Especially pay attention to the smells that surprise you. If you’re not in the place, pictures can help you smell. Look carefully…what would that dumpster smell like?
  • Everything you FEEL – Weather, wind, things that land on you or brush against you. Again – pictures help you imagine if you’re not there, and if it’s not a real place, try imagining images and then assigning sensations from a similar place that might be real (desert, tundra, etc.)
Now, go back and rewrite that descriptive paragraph. Include your best tiny, surprising details, and work on senses other than sight. Better?  More vivid?  This is a fun activity to do with kids, too. Have them write about the playground or gym or cafeteria; then go there and hunt for sensory details!
Feel free to share your final paragraph in the comments if you’d like!  I’m busy at BEA in New York through tonight but will check in to read from the airport if I can, and you can cheer one another on, too!
So this is what I came up with after the quick write. I will be trying this with my kiddos after we've been writing for awhile in first grade.  I love the idea of finding the sensory details in the school...Be gentle but PLEASE comment!

It has always been her favorite spot to just-be. Her place to hide and think, wonder and worry. Her spot to go when the world is just awakening, and so is she.
It was built by her husband’s two hands and cared for by his loving touch. Its freshness envelopes you, and the stillness invites you to stay for just a bit longer.
It is here her children found treasures, buried a first pet, dug great motes and mansions, ran wildly through waterfalls and rainforests, hit game winning homeruns, told endless tales, and brought her their troubles. And it is here they learned the meaning of gathering and family ties that bind.  
This is the spot she yearns for in the winter, and excitedly unfurrows in the spring, soaking in the richness of the newly unblanketed earth with each turn of the shovel. She lets the richness of the sandy dark soil sift through her cool hands, and embed itself under nails and in her pores.  
And yet on this morning, this day, it seems different it seems restless. She seems different- restless.
She watches as the sprinkler makes its steady rotation. Spat, spat, spat it slaps at the hardened ground. In the next breath she sees and hears the pleet, pleet as it dances across an old washtub and metal glider; both faded and peeling from the abuse of the summer sun.
The smile that hasn’t yet reached her eyes quickly disappears as she skirts her way across the yard away from the spray as it thrumps its way across an empty cup tossed from the table by a gust of wind; instead of her bare legs.
Maybe she should have stayed still, should have let the fleeting shower wash over her. Wash over her soul.   
She turns and can’t help but feel the lure of the sprinkler. The pull of how her life is so much the same. Everything changing as it washes over. And it, doing its best to stay steady, stays its course; while the wind unseen, teases, pulling and pushing at its edges.
She feels comfort in its steadiness, in its faithful rotation, in its suggestion of new beginnings and new life.
Her life pours from this spot, just as the water empties from her sprinkler, staying its course and yet reaching out to all who encompass it.  
This is her spot to- be. It is her place to feel and smell, think and wonder. It’s her place to gather family and friends and keep their stories and thoughts close to her heart. It is her place to feel and think and know, and yet today it's, different. She is restless. 


  1. You've shown us there is an uneasiness going on with her and I wondered about her motivation. Is she too content? Needing help? I really like this: "She seems different- restless. She watches as the sprinkler makes its steady rotation. Spat, spat, spat it slaps at the hardened ground." You used good verbs, too, Tammy. Thanks for all; I am intrigued.

  2. Writing camp <3

    Jessica Stanford
    Mrs. Stanford's Class Blog
    PS If you haven't already joined my giveaway I would love to have you join!

  3. I like this line: "Her place to hide and think, wonder and worry." I think it's powerful because of the verbs & the way they work together.