Back in October when I wrote nineteen opening lines for a writing prompt, when I was running out of ideas midway through I just rearranged the words on the back of my student ID. Since then, I’ve tried experimenting by making reordering sentences into something new. I let myself change various elements of a word like form, tense, or pluralization (for example, the noun “players” could become the verb “play”), but kept myself limited to the words on the page. The results probably aren’t too impressive in themselves, but it’s an exercise I’d recommend for any writer. When you take out a blank page or open an empty text document, you have hundreds thousands of words to choose from. So many options can get intimidating, so we writers all too often fall back on clichés in language or storytelling. Constricting myself to a couple unpoetic words on the back of a napkin forced me to look carefully at every word and consider its value in a way I don’t think I ever would have otherwise. Anyway, here they are:
- Mica plates the loose clergy and offers all as food for the cash-funded pious. (From the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church bulletin)
- Manufactured friends offer free college! (From the text on the back of a Grinnell College Napkin)
- The key guard’s beltings surpress gnome waggling rings. (From page 94 of The Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook: Fifth Edition).
- Control your creature-horrors, and you control Critchlow, liege of the blue and green coast. (From the Magic: The Gathering card “Murkfiend Liege”)
- Speak legendary, Zegana! Speak among the creatures, on the battlefield, with the greatest power, the greatest control! (From the Magic: The Gathering card “Prime Speaker Zegana”)
- Sacrafice the library, search the land, the wilds, and find the shape of nature. (From the Magic: The Gathering card “Evolving Wilds”)
- Why ask for trust and money in Tobias? Remember, he has left Gabael in rage and death. (The book of Tobit, 4:1-2)