Writing Exercise – “Paradise Breached”

Another short writing exercise to share 🙂

My writing group does short exercises to share each time we meet, and last Saturday I decided it might be fun to start sharing them here on my blog. One person in our writing group takes responsibility to write up an exercise before each meeting that somehow complements what we’ve been reading.

The exercise I’m sharing this week is one that I selected for the group. It comes from Ursula K. Le Guin’s Steering the Craft: A Twenty-First-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story (Amazon link HERE), page 32:

Write a paragraph of narrative (100-150 words long) in sentences of seven or fewer words.

Le Guin’s book has been fun! At first I didn’t think I would like it because most of what I’ve read so far has been very “style” focused. Too close to much of what I do at work: focusing on the nuts and bolts of helping college students improve their writing style. Just thinking about writing exercises where I had to focus on style gave me a headache. But once I began doing some of them, I found working with style constraints to be strangely exhilarating. I’ll put up some of my early ones over the next couple of weeks. Writing group meets every two weeks, but I thought I’d post one exercise a week for a while until I catch up, as it were.

So anyway, here is my paragraph of short (seven words or fewer) sentences. First, the disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

And now, my exercise.

Clear water swirled gently around rocks. Tall trees shaded the stream. Long grasses lined the banks. Butterflies flitted among wildflowers. Birds warbled in the meadow. Bright sun suffused all with warmth. Too late, she saw the danger. Her children waded in the brook, oblivious. Could hogs truly be so enormous? They were the size of bears. No one believed her afterward. The sheriff’s report proved her right, though. Later they pieced together what had happened. A mile away was a pig farm. A freeway intersected the space between. No road crossed the interstate for miles. But a large culvert ran beneath. The stream passed under. The hogs walked through. If only she had known about the farm. That’s what everyone said. If only she had known.

MassDOT, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

About Katherine Wikoff

I am a college professor at Milwaukee School of Engineering, where I teach literature, film studies, political science, and communication. I also volunteer with a Milwaukee homeless sanctuary, Repairers of the Breach, as chair of the Communications and Fund Development Committee.
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9 Responses to Writing Exercise – “Paradise Breached”

  1. Love the picture along with the story!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. mworfolk says:

    I like how it takes an unexpectedly dark turn…not what I expected from the tranquil photo! That’s a great exercise, by the way–I think it would be quite challenging.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sally Cissna says:

    What a challenge and what an answer to that challenge. Well done. Gave me shivers.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jo says:

    Oooooo I liked the imagery and the dark turn! My writing is always so full of run on sentences, that I think I might have to try this one myself too 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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