Jacki Kellum Free Writing Class Exercise 10 – Write about a Favorite Outdoor Spot – Learn to Write Setting – Sense of Place

Learning to describe settings and to create a sense of place is essential for writers. For today’s exercise, think of an outdoor space that you loved as a child. I loved camp, and I often write about that. You may like a park or a vacant lot or a fishing hole or a hunting spot. If you don’t have a favorite outdoor spot or if you don’t like nature, write about that.

Jacki Kellum Free Writing Class Exercise 10 – Write about a Favorite Outdoor Spot


Mary Karr is an expert at creating settings. Enjoy the following passages:

“If Daddy’s past was more intricate to me than my own present, Mother’s was as blank as the West Texas desert she came from. She was born into the Dust Bowl, a vast flat landscape peppered with windmills and occasional cotton ranches. Instead of a kitty for a pet, she had a horny toad. She didn’t see rain fall, she said, for the first decade of her life. The sky stayed rock-white and far away.

“About all she later found to worship in Leechfield was the thunderstorms, which were frequent and heavy. The whole town sat at a semitropical latitude just spitting distance from the Gulf. It sat in a swamp, three feet below sea level at it highest point, and was crawled through by two rivers. Any hole you dug, no matter how shallow, magically filled up with brackish water. … Digging a basement in that part of the country was out of the question. So when a tornado warning was announced on the radio, everybody but Mother herded into doorways and bathrooms for fear of a touchdown. She tended to throw open the doors and windows. I can still hear the hard rain splatter on the broad banana leaves and the cap jasmine bush off the back porch, like a cow pissing on a flat rock, we like to say.

“Once, we saw a black funnel drop out of the low-bulging sky over the football field across the street. It tore the yellow goalpoast up and wrenched it like a paper clip…. Mother worshipped that kind of wild storm like nothing else.”  Karr,The Liar’s Club, pgs. 23-24.

“Out in West Texas, the sky is bigger than other places. There are no hills or trees. The only building is an occasional filling station, and those are scarce. How the westward settlers decided to keep moving in the face of all that nothing, I can’t imagine. The scenery is blank, and the sky total. Even today you can drive for hours with nothing but the hypnotic rise and slope of telephone lines to remind you that you’re moving. So the sky getting dark was a major event, as if somebody had dropped a giant tarp over all that impossibly bright wideness. …

“On either side of the road were bare fields, and it was that strip of naked road we followed to the outskirts of Lubbock and Grandma Moore’s house.”  Karr, The Liar’s Club, p. 27.


Image result for bushkill fall autumn

The Mid-Atlantic part of the Northeast is on the brink of turning into a natural wonderland, but the leaves will be green for a few more days. If fall is beautiful where you live, don’t miss the opportunity to go outside daily and write about what you see, smell, taste, and hear outside.

©Jacki Kellum October 11, 2016

If you want to see all the Free Writing Exercises, go to blogtomemoir.com Here



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