Sometimes I use fragments of sentences to inspire writing. I collect bits of sentences that I find interesting, store them away long enough to have forgotten the context, and then pull them out again to inspire new writing.
It is a nice writing activity; give it a try yourself. You can also use this activity to generate writing if you find yourself stuck.
Following is a list of sentence fragments that I found interesting and that I go back to every now and again. You can easily create your own list from things that you are reading.
- has a mouth the colour of a fingernail… (Margaret Atwood ‘Spring Song of the Frogs’)
- the plastic chairs sagged and quivered from the weight of men (Lynn Coady ‘Play the Monster Blind’)
- too much life coming at my from the sticky black soil (Libby Creelman ‘Reunion’)
- throwing pieces of paper into folded freefall (Simon Cox ‘How to Talk to People at House Parties’)
- There is all the world of time (JB Rawson ‘In Registry’)
- We both fell the way Lucinda fell in the library. (Daniel Ducrou ‘The Etymology of Love’)
- It was sweet, like ignorance. (Max Berry ‘Attack of the Tiny Miracles’)
- in the pauses on his shelves (Kalinda Ashton ‘Missing’)
- I am having trouble with my sense of being. (Virginia Peters ‘We Must Catch Up’)
- rising and falling as he breathes, but I feel completely alone in my sadness. (Leanne Hall ‘Pink’)
- ‘Do you ever feel that you’ve been beaten by something that other people think is quite trivial? (Sophie Cunningham ‘Geography’)
Here’s a piece of writing I did using a snippet:
At what point did I give up on my life? Was it my first day at the new city school, being taunted in my country long socks and pigtails; was it when I didn’t make it to the toilet in time, too scared to put my hand up in class and wet my pants in the schoolyard, spending the rest of my urine smelling day ostracised from my friends and forced to partner up with nitboy in line up; was it when I went to tap Ms Tray on the shoulder as she turned around and I somehow grabbed her breast in from of the entire chemistry class; was it when I made Mark bleed after I my braces mangled his lip during my very first kiss; was it at an alcohol free under age gig after I saw my date kissing my best friend and I was throwing up in the gutter, heavily intoxicated, when my parents came to collect me from me; was it when my first boss told me if I didn’t let him fondle my breasts I might as well not come back…
(My idea here was kind of to start innocently and humorously and lead to something more serious and sinister that might explain the later decisions of a deeply troubled character…then kind of lead into…)
…whenever that point was, it seemed I had given up before I had learnt to live at all. I’d been on this trajectory for years. No one seemed to notice. I’d always been a good actor, my way of coping I guess, always on show.
I know I’m afraid. Afraid I’ve lost control. Nothing is as it should be. I don’t know how to fix things. Some people have fighting spirits, but my spirit was pained, twisted and disfigured, ugly and unlovable. What the hell was I going to do now?
How did your attempt at this writing activity go? Feel free to share – I’d love to read your pieces!
Brophy, K 2003, ‘Night writing: a reading of Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”’, in Explorations in creative writing, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Vic., pp. 61-79.
Cox, S 2009, ‘How to Talk to People at House Parties’, in The Sleepers Almanac No. 5, Sleepers Publishing Pty Ltd, Collingwood, Vic.
Elliott Thomas, E 2009, ‘Alex Gets a Job’, in The Sleepers Almanac No. 5, Sleepers Publishing Pty Ltd, Collingwood, Vic.
Hutchinson, A 2009, ‘My World’, in The Sleepers Almanac No. 5, Sleepers Publishing Pty Ltd, Collingwood, Vic.
Kafka, F 2000, ‘Metamorphosis’, in M Pasley (ed.), Metamorphosis and other stories, Penguin, London, pp. 9-63.
Kennedy, C 2007, ‘Selecting the right slice of life’, Age, 6 January, p.13.
Lawson, R 2009, ‘Don’t Smile Til Christmas’, in The Sleepers Almanac No. 5, Sleepers Publishing Pty Ltd, Collingwood, Vic.
Moore, L 2006, ‘Getting Away with It’, in The Penguin Book of Contemporary Canadian Women’s Short Stories, Penguin, Canada, pp. xi.
Murray, P 2009, ‘Cameraman’, in The Sleepers Almanac No. 5, Sleepers Publishing Pty Ltd, Collingwood, Vic.
O’Neill, R 2009, ‘Anatomy of a Story’, in The Sleepers Almanac No. 5, Sleepers Publishing Pty Ltd, Collingwood, Vic.
Rawson, JB 2009, ‘In Registry’, in The Sleepers Almanac No. 5, Sleepers Publishing Pty Ltd, Collingwood, Vic.
Richards, T 2009, ‘Intermittent Red Flashes’, in The Sleepers Almanac No. 5, Sleepers Publishing Pty Ltd, Collingwood, Vic.
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