Deliberate Writing Practice: Day Three


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

  1. describe a character’s disappointment or yearning.
  2. involve something “red”, or something connected to “red”–sunsets, blood, red velvet cupcakes etc.
  3. 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.

    lane of trees
    Here’s one from me:

    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! 

    5 thoughts on “Deliberate Writing Practice: Day Three

    1. On a hot day in the town of Sox, the clown jumped on the streets of rock and made his acts known to the crowd that walked, in the sight of all and in the sight of God. The old homes and new homes, the old heights and new heights, clashed like light and dark, while the clown’s acts clashed with the lives of them who walked in the streets. The sun scorched all, and the sun made its wrath known to all. It was a day of wrath. The sun showed no grace in its heat.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Maeve sits on the last bar stool. From there she can see the whole place. Scotch, neat. Fuck, she thinks, the end of the week. Her guts churn, but not from the drink. The rich, burnt taste of it soothes her frayed sense of mind. The end of the work week means two full days of blank dark waste. Same thing each time. Christ. Couch, tea, sleep, pills, but more of thoughts and thoughts that crush her heart and twist her brain to a mad pulp. At the end of a quick glass, she hits the next, so at least the shit gets dull. At least. And then in struts Kate, hot hips in a red skirt, and Maeve knows the night will get worse.

      Liked by 2 people

    3. “Tell me”, I pause, “how can the colour red represent both love and violence at the same time?” “I guess that in heartbreak a person becomes bitter, angry and cold. It’s one thing to fall fiercely in love and another thing to feel so broken that you can’t find happiness even in the sunrise”, he said as his faced turned away from mine. I lie down in the field of wildflowers and stretch my arms up to reach the blue sky. “One day, when I find a love like that, I will never look back.” A tear drop lines my face as I think how nice it would be to come home to you.

      Liked by 1 person

    4. I ran long that day, on and on and on. ‘Til my top was marked red, then brown. Blood from the rub of shirt on skin. I sought calm, found noise. My mind went, on and on and on. I thought of the miles from me to her, could hear no sense in the noise that filled them.


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