Courses I Teach
Details can seem annoying when you’re reading (too much scenery or a paragraph endlessly describing how a room looks), and I’m often told by students that they skip those parts. Even so, when details are connected to events and dialogue, they add a lot of depth.
Your challenge, should you choose to accept, is to add interesting details to these boring sentences, without writing a whole paragraph. One sentence limit for each! Heck, Hemingway wrote a one sentence story: “For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”
Here you go:
What is it that he wants?
Bart knew he had to get away. He’d made a big mistake marrying Edith two years ago. She’d turned out to be not only endlessly crabby but a major slug. As far as he could tell she lived on bologna and American cheese sandwiches—his dinner three times a week.
He took off on his ten speed, hoping to burn up some of his frustration and anger while also clearing his head. The bike trial led through the woods and down a hill toward a field dotted with cows. He’d never been this far, and the trail was beginning to fade into a grassy meadow full of spring dandelions.
Suddenly his front tire hit a rock the size of a softball, throwing Bart over the handlebars onto his back. He lay there staring up at the sky, trying to catch his breath.
Veronica took the old brass coin and flipped it at Rudolfo. It bounced off his purple vest and landed on Lane 10 of the Bowl-Away bowling alley with a loud plonk.
It’s been some years since we’ve done index poetry, and I have to confess that it’s actually Table of Contents poetry. Last time we used Annie Dillard’s Table of Contents to The Writing Life, and the results you all shared were quite invigorating.
I will take the first word of each chapter listed in the Table of Contents of Brenda Ueland’s wonderful book, If you Want to Write. Your task is to rearrange these words into a poem that makes sense to you. You can add up to five of your own words, but not more. With punctuation, anything goes. Here you go!