Exercise: Re-sentencing

This marvelous exercise comes from Kate Grenville’s The Writing Book. I’ve called it ‘Re-sentencing’, as it belongs with the supercharged creative processes of re-purposing, re-mixing, and yes, even stealing. Have fun with this; you might even find your voice where you least expected it.

Grenville instructs us to “take a sentence at least ten words long, from anywhere. Then use each word in the sentence as the first word of a new sentence.” (p19).

Here’s my attempt, using half a sentence from the same page:


Screen Shot 2018-01-03 at 2.44.43 AM

So, is this good writing? No way! But that’s the wrong question. Did it make something new? Yes. For me this showed a new kind of voice that I hadn’t used before. Because you are starting sentences in places you often wouldn’t, with conjunctions (‘and’, ‘not’ etc) and other unconventional syntax, the narrative voice is free to get into some weird and highly evocative kinks. So I might take an image, such as ‘the small, hard nub of your former self’ to use in a piece of writing later on. Or I could deliberately use the stylistic effect of short, fragmented sentences, which came up by chance this time, to build up the inner world of a character.

Try this for yourself, and note down anything you liked about the new possibilities for your voice.

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