Hands: A Creative Writing Exercise

Hands: A Creative Writing Exercise in 5 Steps

Close up of womans hands writing on paper.
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When I've used this creative writing exercise in a class, it's consistently resulted in the most interesting work. Begin by thinking of someone for whom you have strong feelings, and then complete each of the five steps.

You'll notice that each brief instruction is on a separate page. This was done to prevent you from looking ahead. The exercise works best, and is easiest to do if you really take one step at a time. Don't worry if the steps -- and your responses -- don't seem immediately related to each other. Seemingly illogical associations often result in more interesting and truer work.

As with all the exercises on this site, there's no right or wrong answer. If you're getting something down on the page, you've already succeeded. Click "Next" to get started.

Prompt #1

Describe the person's hands.

Prompt #2

Describe something he or she is doing with his/her hands.

Prompt #3

Use a metaphor to say something about some exotic place.

(Again, just focus on this step. Don't worry about how it's all going to come together in the end.)

Prompt #4

Ask this person a question somehow involving #2 & #3 above.

Prompt #5

The person looks up, notices you there, and gives an answer that shows he or she only got part of what you were asking.

Bring It All Together

Now use spend some time shaping your responses into a poem or short story. Or, if you prefer, use this as a jumping off point for a freewriting session. To see an example of a story written with this writing exercise, read "Shanara" by Sakhi.