This week we have an exercise taken from Mark Tredinnick's "Little Red Writing Book" as suggested by Karen at The Rhythm Method.
Read the excerpt from Tredinnick's book below:
"To write well is to make your sentences well. Whatever you want to write, it's sentences you're going to need to master. Your task is to get to the end of each sentence, one after the other. But not just any old how. You have to get somewhere and take your reader with you: and you want to get there well - elegantly, economically, gracefully, reasonably. You don't want to trip, and you don't want your reader to stumble. .. a sentence is just like a gravel path through a forest. It's a track, not a road; it's a trail, not a footpath. You want it to feel finished, but not mass-produced. You don't want it to be anonymous. You want it to have a bit of personality, preferably its own, which will resemble yours. You want it ... to rise and fall. And you want it to take a sensible, and reasonably straight, path to wherever it's meant to be going. So, if you have something to write, concentrate on your sentences and take them one at a time. Put down the burden of the whole huge book, the suite of poems, the letter, the report or the essay. Don't carry that monster on your back. When walking, as the Buddhists say, just walk. When writing, just write. Specifically, write that sentence. And then write this one. Walk it elegantly, and let it suggest, let it even express, everything you mean to say, in the way it tells its own short story - for every sentence is a short story. The way it takes the bends."
Write On Wednesdays Exercise 11 - Take a Walk: "Come back home and write what you encountered. Try to write so that your sentences feel the way the walking felt." Let's toss the 5 minute sprint aside this week and instead take a lingering stroll through our exercise. Participants are encouraged to write a first draft (the point being to get it out on the page), then to go through and edit their piece before posting. We're aiming to get from one place to another, taking the reader with us - economically, gracefully, elegantly.
Carla had been on the road for a couple of days now. The day was drawing to an end and it was time to pull over and find a place to bed down for the night. She stopped at a roadside kiosk for a coffee and thought another hour would take her to the next major town where there would be more accommodation options. As she sipped on that steamy hot cardboard cup of caffeine hit that burnt her fingers, she saw a sign for a rainforest walk. Cool, she thought. Only 800 metres, round trip. That'll give me time to get the coffee down, time to stretch my legs and get the blood flowing again and time to get a little more refreshed for that last stint of driving for the day.
The air was cool on her face. It was darker too and she thought maybe this wasn't the best idea after all. The wet, well-mulched rainforest floor covering the muddy earth reminded her of the road she was now taking. Easy to start with. There was so much to look forward to, especially the unknown. It wasn't until she was well along the path that the leaves covering the path had disappeared and the muddy path was exposed, along with large tree roots, rocks and broken tree branches. Was this what her future held? Would she get to where she was going and find she had more problems to deal with? More twists along the bumpy road? Why on earth did she have to over analyse everything? She had left that all behind in her 'old life'. This was a new beginning. A new adventure. A new chapter in her life. Just live, thought Carla.
The arrows on the sign had rubbed away from being exposed to the elements. It was well and truly getting dark now. A slight sense of panic fell over Carla. What would she do now? She'd heard of people getting lost bushwalking before. Search parties being sent out to find the missing bush walkers. The sense of the unknown and thought of adventure that warmed Carla in the beginning of this saga came over her once again. Why should she worry? Just keep walking. Surely it's just around the corner.
Her coffee was finished. All of her senses were alive. The sound of crickets chirping, birds whipping and cooing, water trickling off in the distance. The taste of the last bit of stale coffee in her saliva. The strong, thick, nearly cool, smell of damp timber filled her nostrils. The sting of the cool evening air against the tiny beads of perspiration forming on her lip and brow. And the sight of the car park off in the distance. Things were good. Things would always be good for Carla from now. There was balance. The planets were aligned. She just had to change the way she thought about life. Her life.
Even though I physically didn't go for a walk before I completed this exercise, I visualised walking along a rainforest path. Something I'd done many, many times in the beautiful rainforests of Lamington National Park in the Gold Coast hinterland, Queensland. We've had an awful day of rain and wind here in Brisbane (and that's my excuse for not going for a walk). Check out what all the other lovely 'walkers' have written over at Inkpaperpen for WOW Write on Wednesday. Thanks Gill, and Karen for this week's prompt. I'm not sure I was any good at it but I really enjoyed it and it opened my eyes to being more descriptive in my writing.