Saturday, 8 June 2019

Weekly writing prompt: Words of one sound


Words of one sound

Your weekend writing prompt is words of one sound – using only one-syllable words. (Only you can't say "syllable", cos that has three syllables, hence "words of one sound", courtesy of John Finnemore and his marvellous comedy series, Cabin Pressure.)

This is a technique exercise, so you need some content to go with it. If you've been doing the writing prompts regularly, flick back through your notebook and find one of your previous bits of writing, and address the same thing again, this time using only one-syllable words.

OR

If that doesn't appeal / you don't have previous sketch-writing to draw on, you could try it with some ekphrasis - that's Fancy for "writing about an art piece". For a visual option, have a look at these paintings by Henri Rousseau. Pick one that appeals to you, and describe it in words of only one sound. (His style is so bold and exuberant that I think he's perfectly suited to the bold strong effect of single-syllable words, but you could of course pick any artwork you fancy, if he doesn't do it for you. Give yourself a time limit though, so you don't fall down a rabbit-hole of choosing an artwork!) If you want music instead of paintings, you could use Wolf Totem by the HU (wild Mongolian metal, I'm not usually a metal fan but this is amazing) or Beethoven's Symphony #7, second movement - both intensely evocative pieces.

As always, I suggest you do this as a ten-minute exercise: get comfy with your notebook and sippables, set a timer, and off you go. And have fun!


This is the 5th of 12 weekly writing prompts in the run-up to the Summer of Writing workshops in Oxford this August. Each of the prompts loosely connects with one of the Summer of Writing workshops: this one links with Hone Your Style, as a way of playing around with different stylistic techniques. There's a new prompt each week, so you can subscribe to the blog here:

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You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to get reminders. The full list of Summer of Writing workshops is...

  • Saturday 3 August: Page-Turners: how to keep the reader reading – whether you’re writing literary fiction or a pot-boiler thriller
  • Saturday 10 August: Writing In Scenes: explore how to balance the different ingredients of a scene and ways of approaching the “big scenes” in your story
  • Saturday 17 August: Characters Unlike You: explore a range of ways to write characters unlike yourself and vary a story's cast, while you develop new characters
  • Saturday 24 August: Hone Your Style: explore what makes quality prose, from angela carter’s richness to margaret atwood’s restraint, and hone your own style
  • Saturday 31 August: Publishing: how to submit your writing for publication: find where to send it, sort your layout, and write synopses and cover letters
Read more details about the Summer of Writing workshops and book your places here. NB: Workshops are limited to 12 places and fill up quickly, so do book in advance if you can.

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