Despite a daunting to-do list, I made time to do one writing exercise this morning. I’m now on the third exercise in Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin, and each day I find myself looking forward to the hour I spend doing her exercises.
I’ve found that most of the exercises are things I’m already aware of in my writing because of teaching writing to middle schoolers. Once you’ve had to teach the 6+1 Traits of Writing, you become more aware of what makes good writing.
But her exercises are still a fun challenge. And it gets the words flowing faster than if I were to sit down and attempt to continue a manuscript. And so far, I’ve been pretty pleased with what the exercises are producing.
Today’s exercise was to write a paragraph with short sentences (no more than 7 words) and then write another paragraph that is one long sentence.
Here are my results. I’m doing every exercise with my Steampunk project in mind. (And I really don’t know if the second sentence is grammatically correct… but it flows alright. I can check it later if I end up using it in a draft.)
The door closed with a clatter. She didn’t want me there. I was a child. They were adults. But this room didn’t want me either. I felt the cold. I saw the dust stirring. I knew I was not alone.
The mecha-carriage sputtered to a halt and within seconds the door was swinging open, and a world was revealed to me: a giant stone Mecha Fac with curls of steam rising from pipes like turrets into the misty air, air that was filled with noises–clanking, screeching, clicking, wailing, druming–which filled my overwhelmed ears and matched my overwhelmed eyes which saw more people than I’d encountered in my entire lifetime.
One thing I thought about while doing this exercise is how long a sentence is too long when writing for children? At what point will the length of sentences shut down your readers? I’m very alert to pacing and readability in what I write because it’s something that I evaluate a text on when choosing appropriate texts for my classroom. Just something to think about…