Tag Archives: memories

Writing 101, Day Eleven: Size Matters

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Tell us about the home where you lived when you were twelve. Which town, city, or country? Was it a house or an apartment? A boarding school or foster home? An airstream or an RV? Who lived there with you?

But first, consider this passage:

The man rode hard through the woods. The black horse’s effort lay in lather. The sun beat down from high overhead. Dark birds circled, drifted, and then returned. The land baked, and dust hung suspended.

Is this not the most boring paragraph you’ve read in a long time — perhaps ever? We’ve got portent, a racing rider, and a forbidding landscape. Together, these should offer excitement and intrigue, but the words lay on the page, limp and dead. Why? Sentence length. Each sentence contains exactly seven words. The repetitive, seven-word cadence lulls you to sleep instead of piquing your interest.

So write with a combination of short, medium, and long sentences. Create a sound that pleases the reader’s ear. Don’t just write words. Write music.

– Gary Provost, 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing

Mixing up the lengths of your sentences creates variety for the reader and makes for much more interesting reading.

Today’s twist: pay attention to your sentence lengths and use short, medium, and long sentences as you compose your response about the home you lived in when you were twelve.

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I am lucky, I spent my childhood in one place, in one home, my mum made sure of that having had a childhood which involved relocating and changing schools often, she knew how important stability is and made sure we at least had that.

My family home was on a 1970’s estate, some lovely properties. My parents were the second people to buy the house, it was situated in a cul-de-sac, which was one of the main reasons for buying it for the children of the family they were yet to have to play out in.

It was a four-bedroom, semi-detached with a big garden at the back and a small lawn at the front. When my parents bought it there were three bedrooms and they had it extended. I lived with my parents, older brother and younger brother.

It is in a small town in the Midlands, surrounded by countryside and equidistant to two cities, a short car journey away.

Having lived all over, I have come back to my home county for family but also the location. The grass is always greener on the other side, when actually the greenest grass is that of home.

I find it funny after ten years of living away from home – all over the country that I ended up back in home county.

Writing 101- Day 2: A Room with a View

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Writing 101, Day Two: A Room with a View (Or Just a View)

We’re all drawn to certain places. If you had the power to get somewhere — anywhere — where would you go right now? For your twist, focus on building a setting description.

A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.

– Joan Didion

If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

The spaces we inhabit have an influence on our mood, our behavior, and even the way we move and interact with others. Enter a busy train station, and you immediately quicken your step. Step into a majestic cathedral, and you lower your voice and automatically look up. Return to your own room, and your body relaxes.

Today, choose a place to which you’d like to be transported if you could — and tell us the backstory. How does this specific location affect you? Is it somewhere you’ve been, luring you with the power of nostalgia, or a place you’re aching to explore for the first time?

Today’s twist: organize your post around the description of a setting.

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This challenge is hard because I can’t choose where to go, although I can go anywhere in the world my initial thoughts have gone to places of simplicity. So much as I love world travel and been to many countries and have lists of places I long to visit, I am going to take you somewhere local. A place from my past, my childhood. A place out of bounds during school time, but an area local kids knew well.

The pond on the school field. The school field was private land as they all are, but the railway used to run alongside and eventually some houses were built on the border. There was a small, white farm house complete with pecking geese and a cantankerous old farmer, but if you made it up the alley by the side of the school and across the tracks (avoiding farm animals) to the gate, the field was one easy climb away.

We weren’t the only group who used it, many of the locals walked there dogs there (and this was years before the poop/scoop laws had been created, let alone enforced)! The school field was vast – it consisted of a rugby pitch, an area close to the pond used for field events, the embankment and around the corner a full size running track, with an old oak tree in the middle and then an extra rectangle of field we didn’t use because there was another school and they used that part of the field. Around the edge there was a fence separating us from the farmer’s land and lots of shrubbery, bushes and trees. It was very green and very flat.

Behind the field event area were a group of Weeping Willows and a few Silver Birch trees which hid the pond from view. That’s what made it such a great place as a child, it was den like and saved you from having to drag sheets and blankets out with us to play. You could pull the branches aside like curtains and duck beneath them.

The pond was very small, just a few metres across and wide. It wasn’t particularly deep, the water was always murky but you could see in it. Frogs lived there. We never went in the water – we were girls, it didn’t look clean and we believed in the lessons taught to us about water safety. We didn’t include danger in our games. There were some logs, two small logs, wide enough for children to sit on, pushed up to the edge of the pond. We used to sit on these and chat and play. I don’t recall the games, it was mainly a secret den away from the boys. Who used it too, but not when we were there.

I liked the privacy nature provided, the overhanging branches, camouflaging our existence. The tranquillity felt here, the feeling of safety of the real world being miles away. Our own haven.

It also felt good because we knew we were in an out of bounds area of the playing field. There were no teachers or parents to tell us otherwise.

I have no idea why this is the place that came to mind first, but it was. I hope I have given you enough visual description for you to imagine the peace of this place. I am not sure if I want to go back there for the physical space or because it offers me memories of a simpler time.

 

 

 

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