July 19


Your Friday writing challenge: write like Virginia Woolf

Today I’m reading The Novel Sentence: Creative Writing Hints from the Prose, by Robert Goodspeed, a self-published guide to writing fiction.

At one point in the book, he comments on this remarkable sentence from Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway:

Quiet descended on her, calm, content, as her needle, drawing the silk smoothly to its gentle pause, collected the green folds together and attached them, very lightly, to the belt.

Goodspeed remarks on the “expressive and musical” sentence’s rhythm, and represents the sentence a second time, broken into lines, as if in verse:

Quiet descended on her, calm, content,

As her needle, drawing the silk smoothly

To its gentle pause,

Collected the green folds together and

Attached them, very lightly, to the belt.

So, the challenge is to write a sentence structured like this one, but as if for a present day audience, in a style that will not feel anachronistic.

Here’s an attempt from me:

The evening came on, sullen, dense, as the rain, draining the pink and orange from the surrounding leaves, scattered gloomy spots on the back deck and dripped, very softly, from the eves.

I’m not sure this sentence works at all. The practice is the point.

Write something better and post it below!




learn1, Virginia Woolf

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  • Not sure that it’s better. Just my first attempt. I like this exercise! I will try it again soon!

    He pushed against her, sweaty, drunk,as his breath, escaping from his opened mouth
    like creeping smoke, settled into the pores of her face and slithered up her nostrils when she was forced to take a breath.


  • I think your sentence worked rather well,I especially like ‘dripped, very softly, from the eves.’

  • Heres is my poke at it:
    He chanted incessantly, breathy, droll
    And I realised, when glancing back
    That my breath was held
    In case, by some chance accident
    I should cause interruption to the seeking soul.

    Not that great, but hey, it was a bit of fun. Thanks.

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