aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

Perspective is all

Perspective is all in real life, as it is in stories. Imagine two people at a restaurant. One has just learned that she has terminal cancer. The other has just gotten engaged. Even if they order the same meal and sit at adjoining tables, their experiences will be completely different.

A lot of writing prompts try to help the writer understand that. Here are two from John Gardner.

1. Describe a lake as seen by a young man who has committed murder. Do not mention the murder.

2. Describe a building as seen by a man whose son has been killed in a war. Do not mention the son, war, death, or the old man doing the seeing. Then describe the same building, in the same weather, as seen by a happy lover. Do you mention love or the loved one.

Although that last writing prompt comes close to the satirical ones in McSweeneys, such as “Write a scene showing a man and a woman arguing over the man's friendship with a former girlfriend. Do not mention the girlfriend, the man, the woman, or the argument.” (for more fake prompts, click here).

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