Writing exercise from Karen’s desk

I quite enjoy the little writing exercises that people come up with sometimes. You get these at a lot of creative writing courses and workshops. They’re basically little triggers designed to get you writing. The truth is that when it comes to being a writer, there are six really, REALLY important things that you have to do:

Read, read, read, write, write, write.

All the other skills you learn, getting help with your grammar, getting stories critiqued and all that is very important. But first and foremost you have to read like you breathe (all the time) and you have to write as much as possible. The more you write, the more frequently you write, the better your writing will get. So, with that in mind, I was pleased to find this little exercises over at Karen Lee Field’s blog today:

Inspiration Friday is all about getting words on to a blank page. This is this week’s exercise:

Instructions: Using any set of words below, continue writing a paragraph of no longer than 50 words. Learn to be concise.

1. Mildred Crane leaned over the fence and beckoned…

2. The line of ants moved quickly…

3. The wise man…

4. “Respect is all I ask for,” said…

5. The warrior clasped his sword in both hands and…

6. Sunshine warmed the air, but Tim…

7. Blood splattered on the pathway…

8. Aunt Maud was old…

9. “Fire!” The men turned and…

10. Death is not the end…

I thought that was a pretty cool idea, so I decided to give it a go. If you want to have a try, go and leave a comment with your ideas before you read mine below. I wouldn’t want your creative genius to be sullied by my filthy words.

Otherwise, here are my efforts:

1. Mildred Crane leaned over the fence and beckoned with one crooked finger. Little Jimmy began to tremble. “Come on,” cackled Crane, “I won’t eat you!”

2. The line of ants moved quickly, though sadly the anteater was faster.

3. The wise man smiled.

4. “Respect is all I ask for,” said the naked man, stark in a pool of light under the orange streetlamp.

“Well,” said the Policeman, “you’re not really going about it the right way.”

5. The warrior clasped his sword in both hands and prayed to the gods of war that no one would see him for the 15 year old boy he was, but for the mighty warrior he was to become.

6. Sunshine warmed the air, but Tim wrapped his fur lined coat tighter around his body. His toes were already numb and he was so very cold. The poison was sure to reach his heart before his father reached a town.

7. Blood splattered on the pathway. Linda looked up from her banana lounge in disgust. “Kevin, seriously, this thing is charcoal on the outside and raw in the middle. You’re the only man I know that can’t BBQ.”

8. Aunt Maud was old, but not as old as the corpse of Uncle Vern in the downstairs freezer.

9. “Fire!” The men turned and raised their rifles to their shoulders. The woman kept her head high and stared down the barrels as thunder and fire erupted.

10. Death is not the end, it’s more like an interval. Only without ice cream.

So what about you? You going to have a go? These things can be good fun and they really are useful exercises for working out your writing muscles. Have a go at one or two in the comments.


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6 thoughts on “Writing exercise from Karen’s desk

  1. 1. Mildred Crane leaned over the fence and beckoned to the poodle, teasing him with a bit of sausage just out of his reach. Frank saw this from afar and pointed it out to Jenny. “She took you out of her will this morning,” he said matter-of-factly.

    2. The line of ants moved quickly through the motionless bumps and crevices. They entered the cavity of his nose but it didn’t bother him. He didn’t stir one bit.

    3. The wise man reads a dirty email thrice before sending. Especially when having an affair, and especially when the paramour’s name starts with the same letter as the wife’s. Alas, in my family, wisdom skips a generation.

    4. “Respect is all I ask for,” said Yaroslavic, dunking the nameless woman head-first into the feeding trough. “Learn to respect me and things might go well for you.” With her clothes wet, he looked at her lustfully, thereby missing the flicker that was the knife in her hand.

    5. The warrior clasped his sword in both hands and placed it on the counter. “And your Certificate of Samurai Guild Membership,” said the bureaucrat smiling. He had something to add to Matsumoto’s disgrace and he was going to enjoy it.

    6. Sunshine warmed the air, but Tim shivered as he sipped his drink, the smell of charred human flesh still fresh in his mind. He looked right past the firemen’s efforts. All he knew was relief, endless relief. He’ll never have to face Mother again.

    7. Blood splattered on the pathway. Kevin looked down in disbelief. “Fuck!” He now had a rich client in the house and no package to deliver.

    8. Aunt Maud was old school. She clutched my elbow, reeking of brandy, cigars, overdone perfume. As she began her monologue, I knew this would be a long party.

    9. “Fire!” The men turned and saw Claus yelling as he strummed the guitar haphazardly. There was a long silence, until Sandra spoke up. “The terrorism statute allows special provisions to charge him as a sane defendant. Elections are next week.” His fate was sealed.

    10. Death is not the end of family life for the Yatara people. They keep corpses for months: right in the beds they die. They talk to them, tell them secrets they’d never reveal to the living. Trouble for them, I was no corpse.

  2. Argh! I glanced at yours before I decided to have a stab — and for #6, I think your “father” thing must have seeped into my short-term-subconscious and come out as my “mother” thing.

    How embarrassing..

  3. They’re all really good, Michael. Your number 6 is very different to mine really. I liked your one about the wise man. Made me laugh.

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