The introduction to this series is here. But 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 daniel wallace at gmail). Thanks to everyone who tried these out 🙂
One Syllable Words
While today’s exercise is less challenging than yesterday’s, it should still get those writing muscles working. It is simple. Write a paragraph of about five sentences, more or less, in which you
- describe a character’s disappointment or yearning.
- involve something “red”, or something connected to “red”–sunsets, blood, red velvet cupcakes etc.
- use only words of one syllable.
The last requirement is where the magic comes in. A constraint on the words we can use can have remarkable effects on our writing, our subject matter, even our thinking. It is like being a completely different writer.
I walked three miles that day, up and down hills, but the dogs stayed far off. I saw them a few times, the two of them, their legs paused, heads turned to gaze at me. Their damp eyes on the cold day. But they seemed not to care that I was on the edge of tears, and they ran on each time. I yelled, I called, and I could not catch up. The old homes looked tall and grim on those streets, the oaks that swayed the wind, the deep dark lawns on those still lanes where my dogs ran. Glad they looked, my dogs, to be free at last, as the sky grew dark and bright, as the air shook. Rain washed the sweat on my face as I chased them. At last, an hour gone, at the last of the street’s homes, a red door swung back, and I was asked if I was in need of help.
PS If you teach creative writing, I’ve found one-syllable writing to be a very popular and interesting assignment / classroom exercise. But I find it powerful for my own writing, too.
I’m looking forward to reading more responses!
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