Solving for X

At my writing course the other day, we had a bit of fun with an exercise called “Solving for X”. The idea is to write a short story with the following conditions:

  • it is exactly 26 sentences in length,
  • each sentence begins with a word which starts with one of the letters of the alphabet.

You can either decide to use the letters in order, or randomly, as long as each is used just once to start a sentence.

It was great fun to do and didn’t take that long really (around 20 minutes at the most), considering we jumped straight in. The best part about it was that because you are prompted around a letter, the worry about where the story is going, what is the plot, are you following the rules correctly, are thrown out the window and you just get  into the writing straight away. The results from everyone in the class were funny, clever and surprising.

Have a go, it’s good fun. Here’s mine, unedited. It’s not a masterpiece by any stretch, but I recommend it as an exercise if you’re getting a bit down on yourself in regards to your writing.

Thick Australian accents at the ready:

Ahoy there matey!”
Brian looked up and saw the boat approaching the wharf where he was waiting.
Christ you two look a bit rough this morning” Brian shouted. “Did you go on a bender last night?”
Ernie bought over a bottle of bourbon and Lee got in some beers as well.”
Fair enough mate.”
Give us a hand with this would ya?”  said Harry throwing a rope to Brian. “If you keep pulling the boat in we can get close enough to tie her up. Just like that, yeah, good mate. King tide yesterday, so we should be good to go today.”
Lee looked up from inside the boat and came out to give Brian a hand. “My arse we will be good to go! No-one goes fishing on a king tide ya dickhead.”
Oh for fuck’s sake Harry” Brian said. “Please tell me you didn’t plan this trip around a king tide?”
Quit ya crying girls! Relax those mouths of yours and settle down. Some of us do have half an idea you know. The tide going out will be perfect for us. Under these conditions we can trawl for everything going on out on the tide and we won’t have to go that far neither.”
Very well mate, now where should I put this?”
What, the beer? X marks the spot.” said Harry grinning as he pulled back a tarpaulin to reveal a flash new esky.
You’re getting a bit fancy mate!” the men laughed.
Zip it boys and lets go” Harry growled.

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One Comment on “Solving for X”

  1. myhairhurts says:

    Brilliant writing exercise! Your nautical theme was plunderful, arrrrr, me hearty.


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