May 13


Seven days to get writing: day one

The introduction to this series is here.
But the idea is simple: one quick writing exercise a day for seven days. Post the results in a comment below, or, if you prefer, email them to me (at my name at gmail).
Exercise one: write five sentences.

I like to set myself challenges for sentences, either to copy the format and structure of another writer’s sentence, or to require myself to write a sentence with set characteristics. I feel like the practice gives me more options when I return to the “real” part of my daily writing routine.

The aim here isn’t necessarily to write beautiful lines, but just to exercise your brain. Trying out small challenges like this should build up writing muscles you didn’t know you had.

Write, on any subject you like, a sentence that:

  1. starts and ends with the same letter.
  2. has two commas.
  3. contains the words “only” and “very.”
  4. repeats the same letter four times.
  5. is lop-sided, with all the interesting or important words either at the start or the end.

— Some of these prompts are inspired by Don Delillo’s Paris Review interview. —

Some examples from me:
1. Consequences in this town are rarely aesthetic.
2. The cat, plump and silky, stretched out on the bed.
4. The broken egg dripped from the toddler’s fist.

— Try them out! Another very different exercise tomorrow.

Daniel Wallace


life2, sentence craft, writing exercise

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  • This looks like fun. I think I’ll join you! Will do them later this evening. Should be a good way to get me into the writing/editing mode on my novel.

  • 1. Tom laid a trap for the last time in August.
    2. The graduation ceremony, though short, offered a beguiling glimpse into high school drama.
    3. It’s a very near thing to be the only one to survive.
    4. Marie’s moist, magnificent meringue crowned the lemon pie .
    5. At the end of the day, jumping clowns tend to scare us all.

  • 1. Petra tried on the orange dress first, hoping it would make her blue eyes “pop”
    2. The goat, who had always wanted to get at those yellow flowers, strained against her chain.
    3. The very tempting watermelon was a lot cheaper, but James only had eyes for the honeydew.
    4. She poured the water slowly, watching condensation form before her eyes.
    5. By the time she got to the gate, Sam had already been scratched by the cat and knocked over three rubbish bins.

    This was fun!

    • Hi Jenn: I like these! I hope Petra’s dress doesn’t get chewed by the confused goat…

  • This does sound fun and educational. I’d like to give the exercises a try as well.

    1. She scurried across my desk on her eight tiny legs.
    2. He knelt to the ice, his head hung low, as the final period buzzer sounded.
    3. The sudden onset of light rain offered only a brief reprieve from a very humid night.
    4. Helena heaved the sack of potatoes over her shoulders.
    5. John recalled the night he showed up to Jane’s apartment like a wet dog begging to be let in.

  • themulligrubs says:

    1. The man named Charlie wears a three-day-gone shirt that droops in the heat.
    2. He stands in a doorway, squinting westward, trying to divine meaning from distant puffs of dust.
    3. The very hot sun of the Southwest has aged his skin beyond his thirty two years, and the only good to come of it is creases of humor around his eyes.
    4. For the moment, his expression shows no humor at all, for the hour of his wife’s arrival has come and gone these five hours past.
    5. Worried, weary, and beaten Charlie turns toward the house.

    • mulligrubs: these are really good. It took me a couple of readings to realise you’ve told a continuous story here. I particularly like the falling minor key that ends the final sentence.

  • Reblogged this on Burlesque Press and commented:
    You Fridya Writing Challenge comes again from The Incompetent Writer. Last year the author, Daniel Wallace, did this blog on 7 Days To Get Writing Again. This is the first of 7 posts on jumpstarting your writing. I don’t know about you, but the end of summer, beginning of a new semester, and all the craziness that ensues can often be a bit overwhelming. Take this opportunity to dedicate yourself to what you care about – your own work. And as always, let us know how it goes!

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