We have had a lot of rain in Southern California this year. A lot of rain! But when I am writing, I no longer hear the patter of raindrops on the roof or the low rumble of thunder. I hear words.
Confession: I love words. Big words and small words and words I don't even know yet. Words are the basis of our work as writers and they are our most valuable tool besides our imaginations.
The right words placed in the exact right order can take a reader from joy to fear to sorrow. Kate DiCamillo uses sparse prose to tell her stories. And it is the simplicity of her sentence structure that gives her stories their complexity. I love all her books, but my absolute favorite is The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.
"I'm broken. My heart is broken. Help me."
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Page 149.
"The door closed. The bell tinkled.
And Edward was alone."
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Page 177.
Every word has an important role to play in spare prose. If it isn't essential, then it doesn't belong. I think it takes a great deal of discipline to parse sentences down to their barest form. So today, as a writing exercise, challenge yourself to write a scene using sentences of five words or less. See what you can do with the perfect four words.