The introduction to this series is here. The idea is simple: one quick writing exercise a day for several 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.
“Nobody ever warned me about mirrors, so for many years I was fond of them, and believed them to be trustworthy.”
— Helen Oyeyemi: Boy, Snow, Bird
Sentences are the building blocks of prose, and I often like to set myself challenges for them, 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, although sometimes awkward and deliberate in the moment, gives me more instinctive options when I return to the “real” part of my daily writing routine.
The aim here, today, 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:
- starts and ends with the same word (or version of the same word).
- a sentence like a triangle: one that starts with unimportant details, and then builds up to the main idea or reveal in the middle of the sentence, only to fade away to a quiet end.
- contains the words “only” and “very.”
- repeats the same letter four times.
- is an adaptation of Oyeyemi’s sentence, above.
— Some of these prompts are inspired by Don Delillo’s Paris Review interview. —
Two examples from me:
- Towers were the standard in this mountain city, and the clouds above seemed cut and bruised by towers.
- The attorney’s office was filled with tan, bright, dust, and the children sniffed and coughed as they were informed that all the family money was gone, that they were now destitute, permanently indebted, and that certain forms had to be completed, and a decision about a certain uncle must be immediately made.
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