The Next Page Entry 35: 100 Words

The Next Page Entry 35: 100 Words

word cloud with 100 words counting

I threw them a curve today.
Journal time: I asked for a 100-word piece. Exactly.
Yes, a little cruel, considering most of the time I’m pushing fluency–even wordiness–so they can see what they’re capable of.
But this time, a little constraint.
I gave them ten minutes of first draft writing.
I wanted a beginning, middle, and end.
I gave them a sample of my own.
I told them my strategy was to write first, then cut back later.
They could work with a partner, especially if they needed a second pair of eyes to simply count the words.

As happens so often, I end up throwing me a curve. Almost immediately came the questions about hyphenated words and whether ‘a lot’ is one or two words. And they needed more time. Of course, they would, Joanna! What are you thinking?

I gave them ten more minutes and told them ‘Give or take five words’ and that calmed things down. A major ‘duh’ moment for me…give the kids some leeway. Otherwise, word count supersedes writing quality.

So, my little 20-minute challenge? It turned out to be a full-blown [is that one or two words? ;->] on-and-off [enough with the hyphenations!] activity to day’s end. Why was I surprised?

Desired results?
Experience working with constraints.
‘Editing for brevity’ skills. [I told the kids my first draft was 119 words.]

My prompts:
“I was 50 words from finishing my novel and the phone rang…”
He/she had only seconds to send her plea for help…
As the clock ticked away, so did my hopes for the million dollar prize…

My sample for the kids: [Side note: A ‘tech-win’…Later in the day, they watched me compose and edit via the projector. It’s becoming a pivotal part of my ‘act’. What took me so long?]

As the clocked ticked away, so did my hopes for the $1,000,000. I strangled the phone as I thought through the question.
“Name one of the more popular of the fluffiest cat breeds.”
Siamese. No way. Sphinx. No, you dunderhead. That’s the exact opposite! Tabby. Not even a breed!
The ticking continued.
I looked at Buddy. Think ‘cat’, not ‘dog’! Then it hit me…Buddy came in once after a grooming. The lady had gone a little nuts with the blow dryer…”Persian! Mom said he looked like a Persian cat!”
“Is that your final answer?”
“PERSIAN!”
“YES!”

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