Monday, 26 October 2015

Steering the Craft - The Sound of Your Writing

This is the first in my exercises for Steering the Craft. It was actually really enjoyable, an opportunity to play with language in a way I normally forget to do when I'm writing. What you can discover just by not worrying about the final result is remarkable. There's still progress to make, but I'm pretty pleased with the results. Hopefully you'll enjoy them too, and I highly recommend giving these exercises a go yourself: the discovery alone will make it worth it.

Exercise One: Being Gorgeous

"Part One: Write a paragraph to a page of narrative that's meant to be read aloud. Use onomatopoeia, alliteration, repetition, rhythmic effects, made-up words or names, dialect - any kinds of sound effect you like - but NOT rhyme or meter."

When the day is swallowed by the sneaking dark and shadows stretch their arms to share their cloak, that's when the Ingrilin come out. No one sees them, that's their gift, their curse, but they see all. The long fingers slide over the ground ahead, scraping away the soil in the days when forests ruled the land. Now they simply slither over the concrete, their sleekit forms sliding over the tacky tarmac, past the cars careening to their destinations. Around the people bobbing along under their umbrellas, oblivious to the pitch black shadows by their feet.
Ingrilin do not know wherefor they go, only that they must. Each night they depart, only to be concealed in their lairs by the time the first rays of the sun kiss the ground. No one knows what they do in the between time, but even people in the enlightened age shiver and hurry past the black alley, avoid the street where the lamps are off. The shadow, with its languorous stretch across the uneven paving stones, is stepped over quickly. The mind remembers, even if the person does not.
What of those who forget completely? Those who step off the luminous path and into the unlit nook? Mostly, they are safe to trot away, continue their life of oblivion. But some are not so fortunate. And the Ingrilin are always waiting.

"Part Two: In a paragraph or so, describe an action, or a person feeling strong emotion - joy, fear, grief. Try to make the rhythm and movement of the sentences embody or represent the physical reality you're writing about."

There are some who enjoy speaking in public. Those people are mad. Most feel their insides quiver, their tongue retreat to their throat, as though to escape via the oesophagus. Sweat breaks out in all the worst places, and before they know it their nails are nibbled and turned to stubs. The notes so carefully taken are made damp, crushed under the pressure of what's to come. All this before the performance itself when the many eyes stare, expectant.
The voice croaks, the words all trying to beat the others to be heard. The tumbling oratory is matched by the rolling gut, just waiting for it to be over. The many eyes glaze, lost to inner thoughts. But still the vernacular somersaults must go on until, by a miracle of time and space, the notes are read, the words are said. The polite applause releases the speaker to their freedom. As they sit, a rush of comfort settles. And they hope next time will be easier.

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