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The Chaperone

30 August 2023

A few days ago, an advertisement for Salman Rushdie's Masterclass on Storytelling and Writing captured my attention. I listened to the advertisement all the way through twice.

In it, Rushdie asks that you describe a setting/environment in 300 words without using any adjectives. I wrote last week, I tried what Rushdie suggested. In doing so, I learned that I must rely on active verbs to support the description--and as Rushdie says, this use of active verbs turns the description of that place into a story.

He asks, "What will you do if you can't use a color word to describe something?" I think...well...if I can't say that a vine is green, I can use verbs like crawl, climb, or snake to indicate that it is healthy and growing. You see how this turns the description into a tale. It gives the vine movement and agency--even personality.

This haiku I adapted from one of the descriptions I wrote while practicing Rushdie's "no adjectives" activity. It is an older, middle-aged teacher who collects admission tickets at the door of a school dance.

I love the result. We gather that she's bird-like and highly attentive. We learn the color of her dress by comparison to her cheeks. It's lyrical and alliterative, and it rhymes.

Anyway, if you need a challenging exercise, do it: write a setting/place in 300 words without using ANY adjectives.

Have fun! :)


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