Summer holidays are here! Today, you are going to do something amazing.
You’re going to write a story.
This is an exercise I do in workshops sometimes, and I love it. It’s great for ghost stories and mysteries, but you can apply it to whatever genre you feel like. So first … pick that genre. Then think of an adjective that sums up the mood you need to create. And there you are. You’ve started.
I call it the 1-2-3-4-5 story. Every class I’ve done it with has come up with some truly amazing, atmospheric stories in under an hour. They start like this:
This is a bit difficult
Ooooh! That worked better than I thought.
OK, now it’s getting easier. But I need the perfect word ..
Wow! I didn’t know I could do this! Can I do some more? Can I please not stop now?
This is how it goes. You have your first sentence. That word you thought of. Let’s say it was ‘Dark’. That’s your first sentence. Your next one must have two words: ‘Black night.’ Then three. ‘Someone was coming.’ Then four …
And so on, up to 10. Or maybe 12? Or even thirteen? See how it gets easier when you get to about seven words? See how the rhythm of the story takes care of itself, starting off exciting but confusing with one word, and getting more gripping as the sentences get more detailed? See how every word counts, and adjectives start to take on magical powers as the right one comes along to fit the word count perfectly?
Then how about counting down? Can you finish your story with a 5-4-3-2-1?
Ta dah! You’ve done it! It didn’t take long, and you’ve captured a little jewel of a moment.
Tomorrow you’re going to do a haiku. 5 glorious lines of Japanese-inspired poetry.
Hey, this is difficult! Wait … it’s getting easier. Whoa! What did I just write there? Wow. I can do it.
And that, dear reader, is one of my favourite ways of spending the summer holidays.