Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Five-line Experiment

In our writing group we use daily prompts to motivate ourselves to write at least ten minutes a day. In response to the prompts, we write short stories, quick character sketches, biographical essays, etc. Some of these stories we then share in the weekly group. It's a great way to receive feedback and learn new things.

This week we played a little game at the end of our get-together. We wrote poems, but not by ourselves. Each of us wrote just one line. The next person was allowed to see only the last line written and none of the previous lines. Working this way, we created five poems of five lines each that were very, very unique and weird (in a beautiful way).

Driving home I digested the exercise and started to wonder if a writer (not a poet) could create a short story in just five sentences. As a starting writer I have no idea what is possible, and so I decided to conduct an experiment. Here it is...


A growling sound rises from my empty belly while typing these first words.

“I am not willing to cave and give up before I finish my first five-line story”, I tell myself and I continue with the task at hand.

“Can I paint a picture in five lines?”, I contemplate amidst the chaos of television and cricket noise in the background and my bladder that has started to urge for a bathroom.

Mark’s shiny head in the next chair informs me that his fever has not yet passed and in my mind I plant a soft kiss containing healthy thoughts on his forehead .

It is willpower that keeps my legs squeezed tight until this story is finished while looking forward to relieving myself in the bathroom with a very big sigh and the words “Good job, you did it.”



“That was harder then expected”, I conclude after finishing my first five-liner in one hour and five minutes.

I try to remember Jenny’s instructions about creating a want and fulfilling that want while writing stories to help me decide if I can call my first epistle a story.

“Do we understand the want of the subject and do we cheer the subject on along the way?” I ask quizzically.

“Using the words “while” and “and” in almost every sentence is no good” I criticize as a pro.

When yawns roll past my lips I look at the clock to see that another hour has passed and finally I decide that today’s experiment has ended!

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