Sometimes pushing the limits can be useful and you can learn a great deal. All of these writing exercises are designed to push the limits in some ways to experiment and help clarify aspects of writing.
1. Write a complete story in six sentences. What could you say in 6 carefully crafted sentences? Examples can be found at Six Sentences
I am hoping to make this a regular feature on this blog in the New Year and will publish six sentence stories that are submitted to me. Guidelines for submission will be coming in the next week.
Here is an example of mine:
Smiling, she drank her tea and ate her biscuits. Noticing a spot on her blouse, she tried to wipe the stain away. Persistent as her forty-year marriage, the brownish splotch would not wash out even under the tap. The cat played with a string under the tablecloth. A cold, stiff hand flopped out onto the persian rug from beneath the lace. She really needed to do something about Herman.
2. Ernest Hemingway was once bet that he couldn't write a short story in six words. He wrote the following: For sale: baby shoes, never worn. Write a story in six words. What could you say in only six words? Examples can be found at Six Word Stories
3. Describe the worst piece of writing that you can. What would be features of this piece? Would the characters be flat? The story plotless? etc.
4. Write a paragraph describing some scene that you have observed. After writing the scene, edit out at least one third of the words and see if you can convey the meaning of the first draft.
5. Pick a form of poetry and write a poem in that form. Sestinas like Elizabeth Bishop's Sestina (which I featured a month or so ago can be found at: http://thestarsarenotmadeoffire.blogspot.com/2011/11/poetry-elizabeth-bishops-sestina.html) are difficult to write and force the author to think of ways to make the six words that the poem hangs on be used in different ways to convey different meanings.
Try these writing exercises! Have fun with them! If you need more inspiration, more writing prompts can be found at Jo-anne Odell's blog at: www.jmodell.blogspot.com