Creative Play and an Experiment

Contemplating how I begin, I realize that it doesn’t matter how I begin, only that I begin! With writing, I’ve found that I can intercept a story anywhere and start to write.  The following experiment is about testing this theory of mine.  That is, can you intercept a story anywhere and begin to write?  Let’s find out!

WRITING PROMPT:
Following are four borrowed, ready-made beginning sentences.  THANK YOU TO THE AUTHORS OF THESE SENTENCES!  Choose one sentence as your beginning sentence and write for fifteen minutes.  Choose another sentence as your beginning sentence and write for another fifteen minutes.

  • “He doesn’t ask anymore why this is called the broken heart trail.”  Mary Sepulveda
  • “When I was fourteen, I slept alone on a North Dakota football field under the cold stars on an early spring night.”  Louise Eldrich
  • “I travel for this, to unbalance my heart, to leave behind the litany of predictable in my life.”  Rohini Talalla
  • “Behind naming, beneath words, is something else.”  Susan Griffin

****
Read both pieces aloud.  Do you hear your own writer’s voice even though the beginning line came from someone else?

****
Things to notice:
–you borrowed someone else’s beginning line to tell your story
–this opening line became the jumpstart for your writing
–Even if you haven’t “slept alone on a North Dakota football field…” did you find somewhere to go with this line?
–what is your level of comfort or discomfort around writing using someone else’s beginning line?
–did this process work for you?
–(note:  This is only an exercise.  I don’t recommend taking another author’s line and using it in a piece you plan to publish unless you get permission and give full credit.)

WRITING TIP:
What is really interesting is inviting a friend to write with you.  Using the same sentence, it’s often surprising the directions in which each of you take the very same opening line.

STAND UP AND STRETCH BIG

bird

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