It's Raining Words by Deborah Lytton: April Theme

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.
Image result for the journey of edward tulane
In sentences of four words or less, Ms. DiCamillo wraps a story around the reader's heart where it will remain forever.

"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.

Happy writing!


  1. It's a wonderful challenge to try and convey deep thought and meaning in as few words as possible. Thanks for the powerful reminder of just how important EVERY word is in our writing.

  2. This is EXACTLY what I'm attempting to do with my next MG!

  3. What great sentences from Kate DiCamillo! I've been writing a lot of poetry this month, and I'm FINALLY learning the deep truth of the adage to which I've always given lip service: less is more.


Post a Comment