55 words

For those of you who don’t already know, I’m taking another creative writing workshop this summer. Aside from weekly reading assignments and discussions, peer workshops (a very rough draft of a story I’m working on was critiqued (and complimented) last night), and general lessons on craft, we are typically asked to complete a writing exercise for each class. Last night’s exercise: create a “full” story in 55 words. This turned out to be more difficult than it sounded, but the assignment provided an excellent opportunity to really think about what makes a story, to think about plot, and character, and beginnings and middles and endings. I wrote a few examples for class and thought I’d share one here:

The Park

I held my daughter by her bony shoulders and told her the one thing that everyone should hear: you were meant for amazing things. A mass of birds took flight above us, their white bodies and gray wings working furiously. The mass moved together, fighting against the wind, rising and diving as one. Like that?

Is it a story? I’m not sure. Truth be told, it’s a moment from a longer story I started writing a few months ago. But condensing that story to a 55 word scene, a single moment, helped me determine what it was really about, which elements and details were essential, etc. Good stuff. More to come.

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2 Comments

Filed under the writing life

2 responses to “55 words

  1. Jeff Soderberg

    I am there; I feel the story. Great advice, that old rule 13…

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. that is beautiful. i would love to read something you write. i am about to start franny and zooey right now, and if i remember correctly, you are a j.d. salinger fan, yes? will let you know how i like it!

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