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Building Great Sentences

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 I recently participated in a workshop where we studied from the Building Great Sentences course by Brooks Landon, professor of English at the University of Iowa.  For one of the lessons, we had to craft a specific type of sentence, and then link them all together into one sentence. We started off with something simple, like this: Big Al headed back into the bar, a goofy grin on his face, his hands swinging loosely at his side, hands big enough to crush your face, hands so gentle, they would never. And worked up to something like this: (I don't remember what the specific requirements were for each individual sentence, but there were specific styles that each sentence had to be formatted in) My original, simple sentence: She held a rock. 1. She held a rock, searching for the perfect target. 2. She held a rock, searching desperately for the perfect target. 3. She held a rock, the first rock she had seen. 4. She held a rock, a heavy, sharp edged one that promised violence. 5. She held

Friends

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 They sit, three blondes and a brunette, at the kitchen table in a rented house in Taos, an adobe house, in the tiny, artsy town of Taos, deep in the feldspar mountains dotted with fossils, surrounded by yellowed aspen trees that glitter, silvering, shimmering, shining, desperate in the last rays of the day, drinking up the sun, nestled near the Rio Grande, which is probably babbling, sounding much like the ladies in the house in Taos; ladies who had not seen each other in seven, or eight, years, the last time having been the trip to North Carolina, probably Charlottesville, or Charleston, though one of those is in South Carolina, of course.

Zoom Meeting

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If you look at the table on the left of your screen, can you see it there, Bill? I'm sharing my screen with you, Bill, oh, you're muted, yes, there. Ok, there we are, yes, so we've prepared these numbers and my team thinks - yes, in the cupboard left of the refrigerator - we think that by the end of next year we could see this kind of result, though it may require - no, don't worry about what your sister said - an additional thirty or so - could you please take the dog on a walk? - but if we can borrow Steve from statistics and Jessie from accounting for a few weeks, we could be ready for production - your shoes are in the closet - yes - look again - Jamie, if you could schedule a meeting with the finance team, let's see what kinds of investors we could line up - no, you can't have any ice cream right now. Alright, I would like to thank Ed for all the hard work he did helping me put this data together, good work everyone, let's meet again next week as usual.

Middle School

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You could not say I was a wallflower. Flowers are fussed over, coddled and protected; but you could not simply change the ending of the word, creating some new word, like "wallweed". Weeds are shoved about, disdainfully discarded, mocked, abused, and I was neither that as much as I was not a flower. It is hard to make a metaphor saying I was the rain, or sun, or dirt, because those are appreciated by both weeds and flowers when they come, lamented when they appear late, or too little, or too much. Besides, I did nothing to help either flowers or weeds thrive and grow. I was merely me, doing my best to survive, to go on each day. Just me, as myself, alive alive alive.

Character Study

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There is a woman over there, in the flower bed, her hair tied back in a loose ponytail, her mouth moving as if she's talking, or singing, though there is no one with her; she is wearing an oversize white t-shirt and loose jeans as if they are her uniform. She is deadheading the flowers intentionally, without hurry, there is nothing more important to be done in all the world than this task, right now. Today, as always, she does not see me when I wave to her.

First Date

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They sat down at the table, he ecstatic to have finally made a reservation, his wallet whimpering and worrying, his bank account sounding the alarm; she, uncomfortable in the new dress, her legs vulnerable in the new high heels, her feet already wishing they were home again in slippers; the table a foreign landscape of cutlery and candles, its menu of strange words leering, its tablecloth (of finer fabric than any clothing they owned) sneering, the overall scene suggesting two children playing dress up: wishing a mom would appear to take them home for peanut butter sandwiches and a nap.

Character Study

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 The man is tall, slender, with a trim and tidy beard, drinking warm milk out of a teal blue mug that says live laugh love  in gold cursive on the side. The sunlight comes in through a window by the sink, now briefly covered by clouds, the room darkens. He turns to rinse out his mug. The dog stretches on a rug by the back door, the birds and squirrels have been quiet lately. A pile of bills sits on the kitchen table, they are polite, but patience is waning. He can feel the blood pressure rising, not his own, but that of his boss, in a slightly bigger house across town. There are weeds in the flower beds and the grass is too long. This is just life. He's trying so hard to live it.