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Specification, plural, eclectic - Three Word Exercise

Updated on August 21, 2011

Look, it's like this, I've got a novel to write, so I'm really going to have to get on with it, because my procrastination is really starting to annoy me. So I've come up with this plan that will allow me to stay on HubPages, and write my novel at the same time. For quite some time I've messed about with the humble three-word exercise, and I find it a very useful exercise for warming up my writing muscles, and for getting something down on paper. The principle is very simple - all you do is, you choose three words at random (I often find that it can work better if they're words I've never heard of, or can't remember the meaning of) and then you write a little scene around them. You can make up your own rules, but I tend to stick with just one: the words are not to be changed at all; in other words, the words have to be used in the tense that you first chose them in, and you're not allowed to add any prefixes or suffixes or abbreviate them in any way. So if you chose 'medication' you're not allowed to change it to 'unmedicated' or 'medicate' or 'medications', and so on. I don't usually try to keep them in the order I choose them - I'm happy to mix them up and use them whenever I can manage to slot them into the story.

So I thought that what I would do it this: one three-word exercise per day, which I will hub, to start me off and get my creative juices flowing (it's not procrastination really at all, because it only takes a very few minutes), and then get on with the novel. That way, I've written a quick creative hub, and am not spending several hours trying to make a hub that's all witty and funny, and still have energy and time left for the writing that might make me rich and famous! Sounds like a good plan to me. I will share them all with you - though when I say 'one three-word exercise per day' it's not very likely that I will manage to get it done every single day.

I will still write some of my usual longer and more thought-through hubs when the inspiration takes me :)

Hope you enjoy the exercises - hope they're not too awful, raw, naive, childish, stupid. They're likely to be rough, but the point of the exercise is just to get words on paper, and not to worry about the sense of them, or the accuracy of any of the statements made.


Monday 15th August - specification, plural, eclectic

My three words for today are specification, plural and eclectic. Here is the image my brain instantly came up with:

'The thing is, Brian,' Sheila peered over the rims of her Red or Dead glasses, new from Specsavers only the day before on a buy one pair get one half price offer, 'you haven't given me the exact specification for this particular job, and Brian, I'm good. Yes Brian, I'm good, but even I cannot work with so little. You've given me nothing Brian, nothing.' She sat back in her ergonomically designed chair specifically made for people with her kind of back problem, and pushed the glasses further up the bridge of her nose almost to the correct position. Brian resisted the urge to reach over and push them all the way up to the little groove which was where they looked as though they should rest.

He should not have taken this job; he was not a leader, he knew that, and when he'd heard that he would be line managing Sheila Thackeray a dread had entered his soul and had stayed there for the two years, five months and twenty-seven days since he had signed his contract and moved into his luxurious office. Realistically speaking he should have been happy here, blissfully so; he had been gifted the opportunity of working with such an eclectic mix of very talented people, most of whom were not like Sheila, most of whom were driven and focused as she was, but also welcoming and warm as she could never be. Sheila was something else. But at the same time, he couldn't help but fancy her.

He glanced up at Sheila, and with an embarrassing jolt realised that she was still glaring at him expectantly, waiting for a response.

'Well, I erm ... well, Sheila, I think it's probably ...'

The door flew open, and Marjorie burst in. Brian glanced up at the clock and saw that it was 12:30, almost time for lunch.

'What d'you guys want?' Marjorie sang cheerily, 'I'm on the sandwich run, what can I getcha?'

'Oh, I'll take a sun-dried tomato and mozzarella panini please Marjorie,' smiled Brian.

Sheila tutted in disgust. 'Oh Brian, I would've expected better from you.'

Brian looked at her, nonplussed. He could not imagine what was wrong with his choice of sandwich.

Sheila smirked. 'Panini is plural Brian, panino singular.' She rolled her eyes.


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    • Lady Wordsmith profile image

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Your cheating attempt would be perfect actually Michael. The reason I haven't posted any new ones lately is because they've all been very short, one or two lines only. This is generally how it goes with these exercises, but sometimes I get a bit of a story out of one, and that's what you've seen here.


    • michael ely profile image

      michael ely 6 years ago from Scotland

      Nice one Linda. I really like this hub and the idea, and your story from it is very good.

      My cheating attempt would be something like this 'I was reading a hub by Lady Wordsmith and she was to use the words specification, plural and eclectic'. Mission accomplished!

      All the best Linda.


    • profile image

      Motown2Chitown 6 years ago

      Writers (and friends) should find one another inspiring, Linda. Seems we're meeting that goal!

      Keep writing - Michele

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Thanks Martie. I'll check that out. Is that a long running competition, or is it just a one off at the moment, do you know? Well, I'm sure that if I take a look I'll answer my own question! But thanks. And thanks for reading my hub :)

      That's so kind of you to call me an inspiration Mo - at the risk of sounding a little sugary, I do find your work inspiring too! It looks to me as though you never stop either. I write letters too - started penpalling about three years ago, and I love it. I had about twenty penpals at one point, but couldn't keep up with them all, I was getting a letter almost every day! I just write to a couple of people now.

      Yep, you're right - just keep writing, just keep writing.

      Oh, so much good luck with your novel workingmom - it's very hard to sit down and work on the same piece every day. I managed to do it for a while at the beginning (that was three years ago - I hope you have more success in finishing a manuscript than me!) but soon started mixing in other bits of writing (HubPages!) and eventually forgot to write my novel altogether! Now I've remember what it was that I loved about my idea, so I'm determined to get it done this time. Keep on with yours, keep moving with it, keep writing, even when it really starts to look awful and unreadable. I've realised that I have to write through the rubbish to get to the good stuff.


    • workingmomwm profile image

      Mishael Austin Witty 6 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      Very nice. I love writing exercises! Good luck on getting your novel done. I started mine a week or two ago, trying to write every day on it, and so far I'm failing miserably!

    • profile image

      Motown2Chitown 6 years ago

      Sadly, Linda, I haven't written anything but a letter with pen and paper for YEARS. I find that my ideas flow much quicker and more smoothly if I'm clacking away on my keyboard. Also, whether it's a novel or a collection of short stories, what matters is that you write it - and keep writing something else when you've finished. Nothing gets published that doesn't get written, so ultimately the goal should be to just keep writing! I find you to be an inspiration on so many levels because you just don't stop. :D

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 6 years ago from South Africa

      This is a great tip, and it really works, also for writer’s-block. NF has a writers group-blog, open on the Internet, where there is a contest: Writing a story with 100 words with the 5 given words. There are some prizes to win as well. You could be the winner :)

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      They're a million times better if you actually get around to finishing a novel, rather than pretending to write one and telling everyone about it but never making any progress with it because you spend more time talking about it than writing it.

      I'm going to post some of the three word exercises that I wrote from last year, that include words that I'd never heard of. They made me laugh when I looked up the word after the exercise and saw how I'd completely missed the real meaning of every word. They're quite funny.

      Thanks Keith.


    • attemptedhumour profile image

      attemptedhumour 6 years ago from Australia

      All creative ideas are worth pursuing. I've never thought about warming up as one does before singing or playing sport, so writing could fall into the same category. Grafting three oddish words into one piece would get the cogs spinning and you have done it with ease. I decided that i could write a number one best seller that would take the literary world by storm, but discovered after three pages of drivel that i lacked a few (hundred) skills. I only write short things instead, but still get the buzz of writing. The chances of getting something published are a million times better if you actually write a novel, so good luck with it, but keep hubbing too. cheers

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      So, I said I wouldn't manage to keep this up every day, and already I haven't!

      Mo, it's another thing that's easy to get distracted by, so I'll try to stop my exercises from becoming short stories and try to keep them as they were when I was writing them last year - they were surprising sometimes, and it was interesting to see what places and people my mind could come up with without me prompting it too much. These are about the most valuable exercises I've found though, and they do help to get me past that initial inertia when I sit down with pen and paper (yes, I do write with pen and paper - you?)

      Chris - thank you muchly. Very kind comment indeed. I'm not one for bigging myself up, but I am sometimes quite proud of my story beginnings - but alas, they often go no further, and I am not very good at middles and ends. This is a problem. I probably should be a short story writer rather than a novelist, at least for now. Hmm. An anthology of short stories perhaps. I tell you what, I should probably stop worrying about publishing anything and just get on with writing good quality anything! I'm such an idiot sometimes!


    • christopheranton profile image

      Christopher Antony Meade 6 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

      Looks like a good idea. If you can paint such a vivid picture from just an exercise, it bodes well for your novel.

      Keep up the good work Linda.

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      Motown2Chitown 6 years ago

      Linda, what a great idea! I may have to try this. I've been in the midst of life adjustments that have left me little time for hubbing, but once I'm back full swing, I'm going to have a go at this. :D

      And, I loved the story you built.