Tag Archives: objective correlative

Writing Challenge

By mishos from Georgia (Bus stop) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By mishos from Georgia (Bus stop) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The writer, T. S. Eliot, insisted that the most important element in writing is the “objective correlative” which evokes emotion by describing the objects in a setting in a way that the emotional state of the character seeing the scene is shown without telling the reader the motivation of the character.

To help teach the concept of the “objective correlative” to his students, a famous creative writing teacher, John Gardner, developed this exercise:

Write 250 words describing a bus stop from the point of view of a middle-age man who has just found out that his only son died. Don’t tell the reader what has happened. Instead, evoke emotion by describing the sights, sounds, odors, colors, and details that the man notices in his surroundings.

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