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A Fun Writing Exercise
If it is difficult to write a few beginning sentences, here are a few to try:
- She’s the kind of girl who picks little flowers and ties them together to make necklaces and bracelets that will soon die but still remind her of faraway summers.
- The lights appeared out of the darkness.
- His anger flared at the sight of the woman he had not spoken to in years.
How It Works
The point of the exercise is to make a story completely word-driven. Instead of focusing on the plot and characters, the words determine the direction of the story and how it will unfold. Here is how it works:
Write a series of sentences that could be the beginning sentence of a story. Be sure to use interesting vocabulary that sound appealing. Pick whichever sentence sounds the best and in the second sentence, choose two or three words to repeat. Try not to pick words that are not interesting like 'soon' or 'there' because they will not keep the interest of the readers.
Does It Sound Repetitive?
It may seem a little strange to write a story and repeating words from sentence to sentence. How does a writer avoid sounding repetitive when writing a story that is word-driven? One way to avoid this is to not focus on the words that have to be used, but rather what new words can be added to accommodate the previous ones used. With practice, a word-driven story can flow easily and flawlessly.
The words the writer chooses to repeat can be changed in how they appear. The words can be changed in the tense they appear as well as being changed from a verb to a noun if possible. The options may seem very limited, but they are not if the writer thinks outside the box. Some words may be used in the following sentence, and others can be used in later sentences.
Hard work and intensive training had prepared her for this moment, and it all would either pay off or become her downfall into an abyss of corrupted dreams. Sarah could remember her father screaming at her during her martial arts training, dying for her to fall into his own dreams he was forcing on her. Martial arts became her world, a world of dreams that were not her own, and she felt how corrupted they were as she stood in the arena wearing silky black pants and a top clinging to her body taut and anticipating action.
Her father stood behind her, smoothing the black top crinkled on her shoulders and whispered encouragement in her ears before embracing her in a tight hug and pushing her onto the stage to face her opponent. Her body was numb, and she could hear the shouts from the audience in her ears, and her nose crinkled as he pushed her body forward, her nerves coiled into a tight ball, waiting for the bell to initiate the fight.
As the bell rang, she jumped forward, and could hear her father behind her shouting, most likely with muscles tense and standing out against his tan skin, “Fight hard! You can win!”
I can win, she thought, and with hard muscles from years and years of training, Sarah swung her fist out to catch her opponent’s ribs wrapped tightly in tan clothing. Over the years, ever since she could remember, Sarah trained hard and fought opponents of every level, competing in every event her father placed her in, but this was not what she wanted.
Sarah remembered, a long time ago before she began training with her father, running through the two hundred acres of land filled with every kind of flower she could imagine and not having a care in the world. As she grew up, those fields became a base for training, and she could no longer pick the flowers in the warmth of the sun, nor could she imagine what life would be like if she could run through the acres of flowers forever.
In this moment, Sarah’s life depended on how well she did in her events, constantly earning the respect of her father who chose to run her life and not caring to send her into an abyss of forgotten dreams and forever spiraling into a world filled with expectations. Sarah’s emotions spiraled through her mind while she danced around her opponent, not expecting him to throw out his leg and catch her on the side of her head, sending her to the floor. She did not move for several minutes, and she touched her head lightly, stars dancing above her head as blurred noises filled her ears.
The stars whispered sweet promises into her ears as her eyes remained unfocused on the blurry faces above her, and she embraced the moment of pure bliss and carelessness, traveling back to the time of fields and flowers. A dull ache spread over her temple as the blurred people became the concerned faces of her parents, and the fields and flowers slowly disappeared.
Sarah sat up and looked at the people surrounding her, her father especially who seemed surprised and disappointed at the same time, and she stood up slowly. Of course her father was disappointed, and without another wasted moment, she began to walk off the stage, avoiding the surprised murmurs coming from the crowd. All her own dreams wasted by the man who should have allowed her to live her own life all along, and she walked faster and faster until it became a run away from the stage and all the corrupted dreams forcefully placed on her.
Stars Whispering Promises
The above example uses a theme of dreams all through the piece, which is used in the first sentence. Corrupted dreams and the forgotten dreams, all laced into the story of a young girl forced to live a life of martial arts. When studied carefully, it is clear which words are repeated from sentence to sentence, but the story itself did not become repetitive. The story even takes a very different turn in the middle.
In the first sentence, there are the words dreams, downfall, and training. These words are repeated in the second sentence, but downfall is changed to fall. When writing a word-driven story, not all the words need to be repeated. Only two or three will suffice. This allows for creativity to work.
This exercise allows writers to get a grasp on the vocabulary they use, and it is also a fun exercise to help those learn to extend their creativity. It can also be used in the classroom, especially in college creative writing classes.