Exercise 3 Part 1: Short and Long

I’ve been keeping up with the writing exercises in Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin and so I am onto the next one. I’ve realized that I had mis-numbered them for the posts – exercise 2 should have been “1 Part 2” since Le Guin numbers them with the chapters, so I went back and fixed my past posts.

This exercise also has two parts and is from Chapter 3 “Sentence Length and Complex Syntax.”

Part One: Write a paragraph of narrative, 100-150 words, in sentences of seven or fewer words. No sentence fragments! Each must have a subject and a verb.” Page 32 of Steering the Craft

Here it goes:

>>The clouds moved in quickly. The fireworks show was cut short. Crowds dispersed from the bridges and waterfront. They were noisy. But a mere block away was silence. The air grew heavy and sagged. We made our way home in darkness. Dark windows and drawn curtains loomed above. We cut diagonally across the park. The sound came first. I turned. The sky ripped open a waterfall. It cascaded towards us down the street. We ran, although this was ridiculous. In an instant we were soaked. Water climbed past our ankles. We waded upstream on the sidewalk. The rain blacked out the streetlights. It roared over our cries. The last few blocks were a blur. Thankfully it was not cold. But we were shivering and coughing anyway. We splashed into the lobby at last.<<

It is interesting how keeping it to 7 words or fewer lent a frantic and staccato energy to the paragraph. I was often counting my words to double check I didn’t go over. One benefit of super short sentences, you don’t have to worry much about proper comma use!

One thought on “Exercise 3 Part 1: Short and Long

  1. Reading this reinforces the breaks between sentences as much as the sentences themselves. For instance, your decision to write “The sound came first. I turned.” rather than “The sound came first, and I turned.” is interesting. It makes that beat between the sentences even starker and creates a moment of tension with “I turned.”

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