Penbenders might be impossible. They might not. Making the attempt is what theyre all about, because in doing that you might find your imagination taking off in directions you hadnt ever thought of before. And they are meant to be fun the moment they feel like homework, give up. But some of the best writing in the world has come out of having to overcome severe limitations on what can be done, so try not to give up too soon.
The Shakespearean sonnet, for instance, has to be written within fourteen lines consisting of three quatrains with a rhyme scheme ABABCDCDEFEF and a rhyming couplet GG, in precisely one hundred and forty syllables, ten to the line.
Willis Halls The Long and the Short and the Tall was devised to accommodate an all-male group of actors performing in a space which was easier to exit than to enter. The play opens with all the characters on stage: a group of soldiers holed up during a battle. One by one, the soldiers leave, never to return. It is brilliant but would he have thought of it without the strictures? Who knows?
Aim at about a hundred words in each case; see if your friends know what youve written about!
Remember the three little pigs? One built his house from straw, one from sticks, and one from bricks. And the big bad wolf blew down the first two houses, but huffed and puffed and couldn’t blow down the third…
Rewrite the story of the three little pigs:
A young man is being asked where he was and what he did on a particular evening. At first he says he can’t remember, and then he recalls that he was at the cinema, and afterwards went to McDonald’s for something to eat. He says he was in the company of several other people, and then says that he took one of them, a girl, home. Write the conversation, using only dialogue, in the following circumstances:
In each case, his answers must remain the same, and in the same order, but the questions can be whatever you want them to be.
You are a camera. Using only what can be seen and heard, and without dialogue, tell the reader what he needs to know about a man alone in a waiting room in the following scenarios. Then get someone to read them to see if it’s worked!