Tag Archives: writing challenge

smashing the doubt by getting it out

As part of my plan to build my artistic/illustrative skills this year, I have begun drawing every day and sharing pictures on Twitter. It’s a way of combating my self-doubt by just throwing myself into it and then putting the work out there. There’s no time to worry it’s not good enough and psyche myself out – I just draw and tweet. I’ve been loving it and the more I draw, the more I want to draw.

paints and pencils

I don’t want to leave my writing gathering dust though while I focus on my exciting new project and I wondered if a similar ‘produce something quickly and fling it out there’ approach might work with writing too. So this morning I set myself a ‘ten to one’ story challenge. I first attempted one last February and found it fun. The idea is you write a story ten sentences long. The first sentence is ten words long, the next nine, then eight… all the way down to one.

Here’s this morning’s attempt:

Katherine was hunched over her easel, struggling with a landscape.
Once, her artwork had adorned the galleries of Europe.
These days her tremors made painting almost impossible.
Frustrated tears rained down on the canvas.
Greens and ochres swirled and splashed.
Then – a presence beside her.
The young girl gasped.
“Grandma – the colours!
They’re dancing!
Beautiful!”

It’s not a perfectly-honed piece but I do like the way this challenge makes you think about the words you use. I also find writing with constraints like this oddly liberating – maybe it’s because I can’t spend hours trying to make it perfect (I mean, that last sentence clearly needed to be two words long but it couldn’t be) so I feel free to have a crack at it. Just like with drawing.

Why not have a go yourself? Be sure to tweet me if you do – I’d love to read it!

alphabet story

I enjoyed the ‘ten to one‘ writing challenge I did last week so when Nicola suggested doing another challenge this week I was up for it. This week’s it’s an ‘alphabet story’ where you write a story with twenty-six sentences and each sentence has to start with a consecutive letter of the alphabet. Here’s what I came up with:

toy leopard

A leopard had always appealed to her as a pet.

But Ellen, that’s ridiculous!” her mum said.

Can’t you see how dangerous that would be?” added her dad. “Did the snake calamity teach you nothing?”

Ellen considered this: it was true that Patrick the python had caused problems but his snakeish charm had made it worthwhile… perhaps not for her parents’ bank balance though.

Forget I said anything then.” but she herself had no intention of forgetting.

Grey’s Exotic Animal Zoo was deserted as she squeezed in through a gap in the fence later that night. Her heart was pounding so loudly she could almost hear it echoing off the silent buildings around her, but she she was determined to stick to her plan. It shouldn’t be too difficult she thought, urging her trembling legs into action. Just follow the path round the back of the bushes until it reaches the leopard enclosure.

Keeping very quiet she crept along, her torch light sweeping over silent cages and empty pens. Looks like all the animals are asleep, she thought with relief. Maybe that’s for the best considering what I’ve done to the security system! Now, is this where the leopards live?

Oh!

Peering out at her through the bars was a pair of glowing eyes. Quickly Ellen introduced herself and outlined her idea; she knew her life was at risk once the leopard knew his cage was unlocked so it was important to persuade him she was more than just a tasty meal!

Realising there was something interesting about this girl, Xavier listened to what she was proposing. She smelt good but there were other ways to fill his stomach and the life she described sounded tempting; more tempting than a midnight snack? Turning towards the door of his enclosure, he pushed it open with his nose and walked towards her.

Unsure of his intentions, Ellen stood rooted to the spot while the leopard sniffed her. Very well he finally nodded his assent and was gratified to see respect and relief reflected in her eyes.

Walking side by side they made their way back along the moonlit path towards the gap in the fence. Xavier turned his gleaming eyes upon her and Ellen could see what he was thinking. You and I: this is the start of an adventure!

Zoos are no place for wild animals” Ellen smiled back at him,“and I’ve always wanted a leopard as a pet.”

 

When I started the story I had no idea where it would lead so I’m pleased I got it to make some sort of sense! It’s clunky though. There were many sentences I was dying to restructure but I couldn’t because then they would have started with the wrong letter. It’s quite a restrictive way of writing in that way but I also found it quite liberating in a way because it freed me of the ability to tweak the story endlessly as I normally would. It has to remain a bit jagged and imperfect.

Funnily enough, I rather like the idea of Ellen and Xavier (names picked purely to fit the alphabet!) and the adventures they might have together… food for thought…
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Nikki Young Writes
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