Exercise 3 Part 2: Short and Long

Keeping up my goal of a post every Monday by the skin of my teeth and thank you for those 3 extra hours I get by being on the west coast! This is the second part of Le Guin’s exercise for Chapter 3 – the chapter on sentence length and complex syntax.

And this one is the first one that has flummoxed me. The instructions are simple:

Part Two: Write a half page to a page of narrative, up to 350 words, that is all one sentence.” Steering the Craft, Page 32.

I tried a couple of times with two different topics – but I didn’t get close to half a page to a page or 350 words. More than that, I think my long sentences are pale imitations of real long sentences – just lots of sentences joined together by semi-colons or em dashes (tried both and wasn’t happy with either).  And despite trying to channel my best A Tale of Two Cities opening sentence “It was the best of times…” I would say this was the most difficult exercise so far for me. Maybe it’s the fear of run-on sentences that my English teachers so carefully cultivated…

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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:
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Exercise 2: Am I Saramago

Steve’s post last week on his progress towards his goals was very inspirational. So I confess: I’ve never been good about setting writing goals. Partly because I have abysmal time management skills, but also because in the past I would write in fits and starts. I would plunge into a story and write for hours, day after day, and then when something would come up or the plotting/story would get hard, it would be weeks or months (or never – okay, pretty much never) until I would come back to it. I no longer have the luxury to write for hours on any day, let alone any sort of marathon burst of creativity. Life has forced me to write a little each day (only other option: none at all) and actually, this has served to turn the unsustainable torrents into more of a reasonable trickle. Circumstance-enforced discipline, I suppose.  So maybe it is time to retry Writing Goals.

One goal I have had in the last month is to post here on Mondays – and so to keep achieving goal number one, here is the next exercise from Ursula Le Guin’s Steering the Craft book. This is from Chapter 2, the chapter on Punctuation and Grammar. She calls this exercise a “pure consciousness-raiser” about the value of punctuation.
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Exercise 1 part 2: A strong emotion

The last week has been so weighted, so heavy with sorrow and yet growing with hope too. With current events still in the front of my mind, I’ve tried to resume some artistic activities. So, a day late, but here it is – the next writing exercise from Steering the Craft.

Background: I’ve been working through Ursula K. Le Guin’s excellent Steering the Craft: A 21st-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story. Always glad for feedback or comments! (And if you feel inspired to join in – even better!!)

From Chapter 1: The Sound of Your Writing
Part 2: In a paragraph or so, describe an action or a person feeling a strong emotion – joy, fear, grief. Try to make the rhythm and movement of the sentences embody or represent the physical reality you’re writing about. ” -Steering the Craft, Page 9.

This one definitely didn’t come from personal experience – no lotto jackpots here!

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