A few days ago, I searched my work in progress for any line that mentioned "rain." Nothing. My previous WIP? Nope. How about a recent short story? Uh-uh. Apparently, it does not rain in my fictional worlds.
Why so obsessed? I was looking for a line to fit the week’s theme for #1lineWed, a writing game on Twitter sponsored by the Kiss of Death Chapter of Romance Writers of America (Twitter handle: @RWAKissofDeath).
Writers of all genres are invited to play along, sharing a passage from their work that relates to the theme word. The catch is the snippet of work must fit within the 280-character limit of a tweet, with enough room left to add the official hashtag (#1lineWed) that helps others find your contribution to the game.
She laughed, a music so light and bubbly the wind might carry it away. #1linewed #amwriting #amwritingmysteryThe same for February 28 and its theme, “heavy”:
The owl called again, this time closer, more urgent. The beat of its heavy wings disrupted the air over her garden. #1linewed #amwritingAnd February 21, “light”:
Early morning light, weak and tentative, filtered through branches still barren of leaves, though the swollen buds at their tips hinted at the coming spring. #1linewedOther weeks take more thought and a bit of creative license to find a sentence or two that works with the theme word. For the March 7 theme, “earth,” I couldn’t find a single reference to earth that worked as an outtake for the game. But I stretched and found this passage:
Its architecture mimicked the limestone-capped bluffs of the region and created the impression that forces of nature—not man—had carved the castle on the hill, as it was known, from the land itself. #1lineWed #amwriting #amwritingmysteryBeyond the fun and challenge of playing the game, #1lineWed can turn into an exercise in revision. Though my search for “rain” turned up empty, the opening scene of a recent short story described a distant storm. The problem? No way would I be able to fit the 630-character passage into a tweet.
So I rewrote it a bit, lost some of the details that are important to the story but not for the tweet, simplified, deleted extraneous words, and came up with 277 characters that have the same flavor as the original passage but fit in the limited space of Twitter:
Far to the south, lightning writhed between & around black, anvil-topped clouds that towered over the High Plains. The storm promised a wild ride for anyone in its path. Here, though, she inhaled deeply, the scents of sagebrush & cattle, of heat & dust. Of childhood. #1lineWedThough I’d revised and tightened the original passage a dozen times, I still found ways to streamline it for the #1lineWed exercise, and that’s valuable practice any day of the week.
If you’re a writer, how do you hone your skills?
If you’re a reader, do you follow Twitter games like #lineWed? Have you discovered new authors because they talk about their work online?
Find Julie on Twitter (@jtollefson) and Instagram (julie.tollefson).