I’m part of a wonderful small-town writing group that meets monthly at The Write Cup & Studio U coffee bar. This place sounds like a writer’s dream world just from the name, doesn’t it? (And it is!). At the end of our meetings, someone usually offers a writing prompt to keep our creative juices flowing until we meet the following month. These prompts are open-ended, allowing us to go in any direction we wish, but for some reason, the April prompt had me stumped almost immediately: “Write about table #6 at a wedding: where the wedding is, what people say, etc.”
I loved the idea. I’d been to a number of weddings (my own included!), and I felt sure that inspiration would strike as soon as I sat down at the computer, but when I started on this prompt a few days after the meeting, I just wasn’t feeling it. Nothing jelled. I created a fictional character named Sarah sitting at table #6, but I couldn’t figure out what to do with her. I added new characters, and then I took them away. I tried to add dialogue, but every word fell flat. The more I worked, the more I felt myself rambling on with unnecessary backstory, and I began to lament my attempt at fiction (I’m usually strictly nonfiction). Basically, I was stuck, so I did what any good writer would do when faced with writer’s block: I signed onto Facebook for a dose of procrastination.
The nice thing about hiding out on Facebook when you are a writer with lots of writer friends is the ability to find inspiration from any of them without even trying. As if sensing my trouble with table #6, a friend posted the following status describing an assignment she gives to her students toward the end of the semester: “Write 6-sentence stories. Being so restricted requires writers to be able to identify and control every aspect of the story arc, especially the moment of change.”
Six sentences. Table #6. It was just the sort of intriguing connection that I needed in order to view my writing prompt from a different angle. Could I describe what happened at table #6 in just six sentences? I decided to give it a try, and the final product is below (notice the careful use of punctuation to keep it to just six sentences!).
If any of my readers is interested in a writing prompt, I recommend trying this prompt (or at least trying to answer any prompt you choose in just six sentences). I actually worked so hard to keep to just six sentences that I didn’t even realize I was a sentence short for quite a while. That realization opened so many new avenues for my story. You don’t realize how precious words are until you have to be concise. Happy writing!
It’s All Sixes
Six is Sarah’s number: six dates before the guy disappears, six scoops of ice cream to dull the pain, six weddings where’s she’s always the bridesmaid, never the bride. And now here she is: sitting between Aunt Edna and crazy cousin Lou at table #6 for the wedding reception of her baby sister. Sure, she loves her sister Bella, but she always figured that as the older sister—older by six years, go figure—she’d get married first. Bella told her that relationships take work and that she should just enjoy being single before she finds herself buried beneath new challenges: relationship challenges. As Sarah thinks over this unconvincing pep talk from her sister, the music in the reception hall begins to play, and the lights go low for her sister’s first dance as a married woman. The band belts out “Bury Me (6 feet under)” by Alexandra Burke, Bella turns and winks at her sister, and all Sarah can do is laugh.