Same Story, Different Narrator

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Photo by Bundo Kim on Unsplash

Uff, this one was hard to write. Not because of any technical challenges, I just got tired of telling the same story four times. The objective was to tell the same story from a variety of points of view and see how that impacted the way you wrote it.

Not much else to say. Quite a bit of history happening at the moment, Jan 7, 2021, so I’m pretty tired. Here’s the exercise.

Part 1 — POV 1

Frankie sat down in his favorite seat at his favorite table. He sighed and settled in to watch the restaurant fill up during the lunch rush. It was always young, corporate people. …

An Exercise in Time and Point of View

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Photo by Harry Grout on Unsplash

I normally do these exercises Monday morning because it’s a relaxing way to start the week. I write them longhand with a fountain pen because it’s like writing on a cloud. Lately though, the ink hasn’t been flowing well. Not in a metaphorical way. I think you just need to use fountain pens more frequently or the nib gets clogged.

Have to take more notes in a notebook during the week I guess, much to my wife’s dismay.

This exercise was all about writing a story in one person and time and then rewriting it in another person and time. You had to write entirely in the past or present tense, but the narrative had to switch between the present and the past multiple times. …

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I first realized I was good at writing in high school, then spent a lot of time doing it incidentally in college.

Like many people, I ended up becoming a writer after working for several years. This isn’t because I got tired of my corporate job or never believed I was capable. I thought that everyone was good at writing.

Turns out they aren’t. And that I’m happy to do the boring parts of writing in a professional setting. Now, after years of not really knowing what to do with myself, I write for a living and tutor Spanish.

Outside of writing, I do a lot of gaming: video, board, and roleplaying; I practice Chinese martial arts; and I look for excuses to go back to Spain. …

It’s easier than you think.

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Photo by Sahand Hoseini on Unsplash

Debt has been a feature of our relationship from the onset. Whether from student loans, car problems, or healthcare, it’s always been something. A major part of our five-year plan has been debt repayment. We’d intended to be debt free by… 2023 if I recall correctly.

That all changed one day when I was idly noodling over something; I forget what. But I realized that we’d owe about $60k on Jan 1, 2020. I proposed we pay down $5,000 a month, rather than saving the money or putting it towards other things. Once that decision was made, we had to actually figure out how to do it. …

The Hardest One Yet

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Photo by Mads Schmidt Rasmussen on Unsplash

Wow this one was hard. Writing narrative prose with only nouns, pronouns, verbs and articles. I do these exercises longhand to start and then type them up. After I’d finished the first draft, I was sure I was at the minimum word count for the exercise. Not even half way.

When I started the exercise, my sentences were extremely short. Towards the end, I got an inkling of how to make them a bit more complex, which I wasn’t expecting.

The exercise also presented me with the opportunity to push myself. I had completed the narrative unit. I thought I was done. Then I learned I wasn’t even halfway there. …

Things are getting technical.

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Today’s exercise is about repetition. It’s a three-part exercise involving repeating words, actions, and syntax. The first two were easy to understand, but my casual relationship to the terms used for linguistic concepts meant I couldn’t remember what syntax was. Fortunately Le Guin provided an example and I was able to proceed without resorting to looking it up. Hopefully I understood what she was trying to say.

I used the same basic scenario for each exercise, and a strange thing happened. Maybe it was the narrative, but I felt more connected to the text emotionally than during the previous exercises.

This exercise also felt less like I was trying to check a series of boxes and more like I was trying to achieve a specific effect. …

Two Exercises in One

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Photo by Chris Galbraith on Unsplash

Today’s exercise is about sentence length. The first part is all sentences of no more than seven words. The second part is one, single sentence. I could’ve made it longer by made an endless train of semicolons, but that felt like cheating.

Working through these exercises has been a strange experience. They, along with some other things, have made me really wonder what writing is. Part of it is certainly recording some arbitrary symbols somewhere. But what’s the difference between rehearsing what you’re going to say in your mind and writing it down? …

A River of Words

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Photo by Jessica Furtney on Unsplash

My march towards improved written competence continues with exercise two of Le Guin’s Steering the Craft. I don’t have a creative writing degree, so this is the first time I’ve really settled in to do a series of writing exercises. I don’t have much else to say except it’s really weird to write without using punctuation.

The Second Exercise From Steering the Craft, a Narrative without Punctuation

Flight United 163 will now be departing out gate B12 God damnit that’s on the other side of the airport people groaned and picked up their luggage and joined the slow-moving river of passengers drifting through the wide corridor We got to B12 No indication that our flight was leaving from there But they told us to come here I overhead someone say to the gate agent I’m sorry for the confusion She types furiously I check the board It still says we’re at gate A2 My wife came over She opened her mouth but before she could say anything a groan reverberated through the crowed I looked at my wife Same gate as before She nodded I sighed and picked up my luggage and followed her and everyone else back towards the first gate checking every departure board I came across They all still said B12 We boarded the tram When the doors opened we all flooded out and hurried back to our original gate I half listened to someone speaking to the gate agent Their shoulders slumped Back to the other…

Following in the Wake of Le Guin

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Photo by Artem Sapegin on Unsplash

One of my current goals is to do all the exercises in Ursula K. Le Guin’s Steering the Craft.

I didn’t know much about Le Guin prior to buying the book. I’d only read one or two Earthsea books, and maybe I had my mom’s copy of The Left Hand of Darkness on my shelf, but when I’d heard she’d written a craft book, I decided to pick it up.

It’s not like most other craft books.

The style is not breezy nor particularly friendly. Rather, it’s authoritative and somehow both mystical and practical. I’ve never heard of most of the authors she cites, nor am I familiar with most of the passages she quotes, but the exercises, so far, are much more interesting than other books I’ve read. …


Lawrence E. Grabowski

Kung Fu Nerd, Gamer, Writer. I write about setting, plot, and characters as well as teach Spanish. I also dabble in writing about other things.

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