Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Neighborhood Kids--A Writing Exercise

Now that you've gotten your desk and files all spiffed up, let's consider a writing exercise today. I'm still not quite ready to tackle my list of goals for this coming year.

When you read the poster above, did mental images of kids you grew up with flash before you? I could see the ones I had fun with and the ones I wanted to avoid whenever possible. Think about the boys and the girls who lived in your neighborhood; they were the ones who were part of your free time spent outdoors or inside playing board games or walking to school together.

I grew up in a large apartment building so there were lots of kids around, although the ones whose apartments backed up to the courtyard on the east side of the building tended to stay in that are while those on the west side kept to themselves in their own concrete courtyard. We even played with the kids in the house next to the alley that passed by our building. Even now, decades beyond my growing-up years, I could rattle off their names. I would also be able to describe each one--both physically and what kind of person they were.

For today's exercise, think back to the neighborhood kids you knew. Maybe you lived in several places so have different groups of kids to consider. Work with the ones that come to mind first as they are the ones who impressed you in some way.

Use the following to guide you
  • Choose one, then describe him/her physical characteristics.
  • Next, write a paragraph about the kind of person he/she was.
  • Write another paragraph about how he/she affected you.
  • Then write about how the adults in the neighborhood considered this kid.
  • Describe how he/she dressed--in a specific way or just like all the other kids?
  • If you can, write about how he/she reacted or interacted with the other kids.
  • What kinds of activities did you pursue together?
  • Write another paragraph about what you think he/she might be like as an adult
  • Conclude with a paragraph about how the person affected your life, then and now, if applicable. Also, what did you learn about life from this person?
When you've finished this exercise, you've created a personal essay, or at least the bones for developing it further. Remember that the personal essay should have some universal truth or some bit of learning for the reader.

You can do this exercise multiple times using those many neighborhood kids who have stayed in your mind.

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