Adjective Noun Collisions 1

Today we begin the second section of this “Songwriters Without Boundaries” course. The real highlight of reading the entries over the last 14 days has been when words have been placed in contexts that we haven’t seen them before, thus expanding our minds to see the world in new and interesting ways. So for our next series of exercises, we are going to develop this further by doing some semantic alchemy, explicitly colliding words together and seeing what meaning pops out.

So here is how it works, today we are smashing adjectives into nouns (creating what is technically called a qualifying metaphor). I am going to give you a list of five adjectives and five nouns, and you have to first create your own prompt by smashing two of them together. You then use the result as your launchpad for object writing in the usual way.

Adjectives:

  • Lonely
  • Blackened
  • Fallen
  • Smooth
  • Fevered

Nouns:

  • Moonlight
  • Funeral
  • Carburetor
  • Autumn
  • Handkerchief

So for example, you could start with “lonely moonlight”, “fevered autumn” or “blackened handkerchief” and then see where your senses take you. Those of you following along in the book will see that the suggestion is to try a few short pieces using different combinations rather than one longer piece, so if you are really keen you are welcome to try a few different options. As you know I am also trying to incorporate habit formation principles into this daily practice and therefore, to make the friction as low as possible, one short passage is more than good enough!

I hope that makes sense - enjoy!

Lonely Moonlight
The lonely moonlight shines her spotlight onto a silent stage, left to sing her own soliloquy as she wanders wearily across an ocean of darkness. She glances across softened fields and muted cities, hoping to find a companion that welcomes her desperate contribution of luminous joy.

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Fallen Autumn, Spring has sprung. The once prismatic leaves gave birth to bare boughs, now bursting with blossoms from their bosoms. Your gentle breeze that sent neck hairs prickling doomed to freeze under the numbing tickling of the winter beast, and be washed away with the imposing light drizzle and greenery. The dreadful origin season which brings about the fluttering birds and insects instinctively bound to forge on the species’ continuance has laid you down, ravaged you unmercifully, and left you out cold. The lilacs and cherry blossoms aromas have overcome Daphne’s eternal fragrance. You embraced me, I felt the cool, concerned arms around by waist, offering me peace. Now that hug is replaced by the forced bringer of unwanted life. The smoothness and sweetness of the Porters and Stouts that created joy and complexity with every sip have now become bitter India Pale Ales suffocating with hops and Saisons trying too hard to be perfume instead of malty nectar. Autumn, now fallen, I offer you my hand. Please arise and bring me back.

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I have to learn to be more concise. This is really well-written, short and to the point. You never lose site of either the adjective or the noun. The loneliness shown through soliloquy, darkness, and desire for companionship. You were also able to write about loneliness in a not-so-sad manner, which brings a level of tension. Good job. The only critique is that I feel like some of the sensory language is lacking. Your visuals are strong, but the other primary senses are less apparent. The muted city is an auditory cue, but is laid to rest prematurely. What sounds are there when the city is asleep? Or maybe I misunderstood the exercise (which is very possible).

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smooth carburetor

The smooth carburetor mixes the fuel like a master mixologist blending the perfect concotion. Without the efficiency and grace of the carburetor this great four wheel beast will not roar like it is capable of, bringing the driver to euphoric heights that only a night of intense passion with a lover could achieve.

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@Tofu4 What a great way to bring an emotional element to a machine! The sights, sounds, feelings, I could feel the jolt of electricity in cranking it up. Great work!

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Thanks man! That was a super hard one to be honest fried my creative brain just to get three lines

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Interesting perspective - obviously autumn is usually a time to mourn the end of summer, and so it is interesting to paint spring as the time to mourn the end of autumn (if I read it right and that is what you are doing). Nice sensory work in there as well nice stuff!

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Thanks! You are right I could do with expanding the sensory language somewhat - I find the opposite problem to trying to be more concise, where I need to work on diving into my outlines and filling in more colour.

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Nice metaphor with the mixologist - you could maybe expand on this by bringing in some more of the language from the cocktail making domain, perhaps liqueurs and spirits, or you could even personify the carburettor as the barman more. The first half of the second sentence is verging on telling us more than it is showing, but then I like the closing comparison of its power to a lover’s passion.

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Glad you said this - my brain sometimes feels like it can’t muster a single sentence, so it is always good to hear others agreeing that this stuff is HARD!

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Very true!

Do you guys rework some of the things you’ve already written?

I haven’t yet. I figure at some point I’ll look back over all my stuff here and see if something catches my attention to capture for a new thing. I feel like these exercises are a focused stream-of-consciousness journaling exercise (kind of like a closed universe freewriting session). It’s loosening me up and just getting that creativity flowing. How about you?

I take the gems from the pieces I’ve written (e.g the coffee as a sedative) onto separate document to try evolve into song ideas.

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Fallen Handkerchief
My eyes were drawn to the fallen handkerchief on the windowsill, which lay partially suspended like a ghostly puppet. Its master was nowhere to be found, her jewel toned dresses fled the wardrobe, the mirror that one embraced her portrait now vacant, only dust hanging in the air where her breath used to lie. The smell of her lingered, something wild and pungent like crushed sage blossoms, or running water, or drizzling autumn air through an opened window. I hesitated to displace the handkerchief, as if its still life could be a homunculi. Fallen handkerchief, untidily, hastily, abandoned, facing out the window to spectate a paintbrush landscape. A breeze peered through the gap in the window like a master tugging at the strings.

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I like how loneliness is weaved into your response, “silent” “wearily” “soliloquy” “muted” “desperate”. I really like “ocean of darkness” because ocean and darkness are two things we associate with the endless unknown which conveys the feeling of loneliness

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WONDERFUL! Such powerful images. Weaving from a puppet to a a representation of something almost human, something dreadful that we search for and ultimately find an uncomfortable beauty in. I was enraptured in this. The scents, visuals, tactile… wow. I think the phrase “writer’s envy” has been used a few times here, and that is what I have now. Supreme!

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Thank you! I appreciate it and am always in awe of your mastery of language and endless vocabulary

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Fevered Moonlight

I long to doze off into euphoric bliss, but my body is dueling with the moon. I arch my back to open my lungs, hoping more oxygen will help. No use. I feel my chest rise higher than it should toward the petulant sky. She’s winning, pulling me toward her dead-grey rock. She is particularly angsty tonight, perhaps aligned with her own nemesis, throwing my existence into agitated chaos. It feels far too hot for comfort so I kick my duvet onto the ground. I toss and turn, back and forth, until my skin turns angry red against the soft sheets. I close my blinds to dampen her light, but she persists. I hear a bird outside my widow scream, and now the smallest bit of air has snuck through the window seal, whistling an off-key “Phantom of the Opera.” Together, they serenade my madness in the vexing glow.

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There is wonderful description here, internal and external senses going crazy! The tension of the conflict, the arching back, the euphoric bliss. Just in the first few lines, you are killing it. The friction from tossing back and forth is especially useful, because it shows a kind of urgency and intensity while laying in bed. For your first collision exercise, this is exceptional!

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