Today’s exercise to tickle your creative center and get the words flowing is inspired by an exercise Ursula K. Le Guin wrote about in her book, Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew. (Long title, short book, worth the read!)
This writing assignment comes in two parts: Short and Long
The short of it: Using characters, setting, situations you are already working with, write a paragraph (150 to 300 words) using sentences of only 7 words, or less. Don’t cheat by using fragments, just write really short, punchy, sentences. Make sure there is still character development, plot, setting, etc. (That is the point, after all: still telling a story, with really short sentences.)
The long of it: After you have reached the end of the short paragraph, you follow it with a paragraph (200 to 300 words) that is one, long sentence. Ideally, write this as if it is the very next paragraph in the story you are telling. Find some way to make the turn, stylistically, from the staccato of the first paragraph into the rambling, Proustian prose of the second paragraph.
Obviously, this is the kind of exercise that requires a lot of revision and a loosening of the reins if the material is ever to be used in a real story and not be that “part of the story which felt as if the author had run out of ideas and was simply filling in pieces with academic writing exercises.” But, don’t worry about that right now. Just write.