Friday, April 23, 2010

What Can You Write in Five Sentences?

What can you write in five sentences?

Based on the four sentence exercises I learned in my UW Commercial Fiction classes under the tutelage of Pamela Goodfellow, an excellent writing teacher and editor, this exercise is designed to force the writer to work on a certain aspect of their writing with each sitting, and to make sure that at least four sentences get written even on the worst of writing days.

The way the exercise works depends on what feature of writing you are trying to get better at the time of the writing. If you're working on good dialogue, you should work at showing the different characters in your story through four sentences of dialogue, complete with emotion, and quality of light (which means not only what the setting is, but how the character feels about the setting).

If you're working on the exercise to gain writing skill for a sword fight scene, then the sentences are focused on the physicality of the fight scene but also including characterization and quality of light. Pamela wrote "quality of light?" all over my drafts so perhaps that is why I remember that particular phrase so well from a class I had nearly ten years ago.

The reason I've expanded to five sentences is . . . well, that's the minimum writing requirement my kids have to write in their journals each day, in addition to their other writing exercises. How I arrived at five sentences? I don't remember. It just happened.

So, as you can see from the above, I am overly verbose even when trying to keep things short. So this challenge is particularly hard for me, even on the best and the worst of days.

Five New Sentences for The Crystal Sword

Hands clenched over the handle of her shattered sword, Clara leaned back her head towards the dark clouds, and let out an anguished cry, "Lord, Lord."

King Hezen, with the molten red sword burning above him, laughed, "Your forsaken God has no power over me." He started his downstroke with a look of dark glee on his face.

Clara closed her eyes, knowing that in her exhaustion she would never be able to roll out of his way. "Lord," she whispered again.

Five sentences shift my gears forward into high speed, pedal to the metal, and ready to write. So, that's where I'm headed.

So, what can you write in five sentences?


Karen Lange said...

Hmm, will have to give this some thought. Reminds me of Hemingway's Challenge - the six word story.
Have a wonderful weekend,

Tyrean Martinson said...

Thanks Karen! Hope you have a wonderful weekend too!

Tyrean Martinson said...

There are five sentence stories, and then this exercise which is five sentences long was originally intended to be a starting exercise for a longer work of fiction.

However, I have seen some amazing stories capture in just a few sentences.