Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday's Writing Exercise - 5-Second Shortcut

We are going to start something new here at Your Writing Coach. Every Friday, I'm going to create a writing exercise for you to stretch your writing muscles. Let's see what you can do with the prompts I provide.

Gabriel Fielding said, "Writing to me is a voyage, an odyssey, a discovery, because I'm never certain of precisely what I will find."

That's how I want you to approach your writing abilities. Never be certain of what you will find, but always be surprised at what you can do.


The 5-Second Shortcut to Writing in the Lyric Register

From "Build your imagination and power of expression" by Steve Almond we are going to use his prompt suggestion. This short piece was first published in The Writer, April 2007.

1. Write a short sentence that captures some intense moment from your life, such as your first kiss or the first time you were deeply ashamed or powerfully scared.

2. The bulk of the scene must take in no more than five seconds. That is, you should be writing about a very small segment of time.

3. Rather than moving the action forward, concentrate on slowing down and moving it inward. The key here is to keep yourself from racing ahead. You must capture everything that is going on in this very short chronology.

4. This action of compression will help your writing rise into the lyric register, which is marked by a compression of sensual and psychological detail.

5. If you have a scene in a novel or story that feels too rushed, apply the above instructions. Isolate a single five-second period and force yourself to record everything that is happening to the characters, both in the physical world around them and the emotional wold within them.

Were you able to isolate a five second segment in your life and write about it? Were you able to find a segment in your novel that needed to slow down? Did you use this exercise to help you? Was this exercise helpful at all?