Exercise Day 6

The Excerpt: I gave the old man some money and went out into the street. Gedali and I parted, and I went back to the railroad station. There at the station, on the propaganda train of the First Cavalry, I was greeted by the sparkle of hundreds of lights, the enchanted glitter of the radio transmitter, the stubborn rolling of the printing presses, and my unfinished article for the Krasny Kavalerist. -- Isaac Babel, The…

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Exercise Day 5

The Passage: "I could!" Mendel shouted, and banged his fist against his head. "I could, Benchik!" he yelled with all his might, staggering like an epileptic. "This courtyard around me, in which I have served a sentence for the first half my life. This courtyard has seen me be the father of my children, the husband of my wife, the master of my horses. It has seen my glory, that of my twenty stallions and…

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Exercise Day 4

The Example: David drove up from Cannes in the dusk. The wind had fallen and he left the car in the usual place and walked up the path to where the light came out onto the patio and the garden. Marita came out of the doorway and walked toward him. -- Ernest Hemingway Analysis: Such an interesting syntax. It's a run-on sentence, and yet it feels simple and clean. The progression of events and the…

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Exercise Day 3

The Passage: Just forget for a minute that you have spectacles on your nose and autumn in your heart. Stop being tough at your desk and stammering with timidity in the presence of people. Imagine for one second that you raise hell in public and stammer on paper. You're a tiger, a lion, a cat. You spend a night with a Russian woman and leave her satisfied. You're twenty five. If rings had been fastened…

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Exercise Day 2

The Passage: I had gone to no such place but to the smoke of cafes and nights when the room whirled and you needed to look at the wall to make it stop, nights in bed, drunk, when you knew that that was all there was, and the strange excitement of waking up and not knowing who it was with you, and the world all unreal in the dark and so exciting that you must…

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Writing Exercise Day 1

For the next ten days, I'm starting my daily writing with a warm-up exercise. I'll randomly choose a passage from Steinbeck, Hemingway, or Babel, type it out (to internalize the language), analyze the style, and then mime it in my own vignette. Today's Passage: "We slept, all six of us, beneath a wooden roof that let in the stars, warming one another, our legs intermingled. I dreamed: and in my dreams saw women. But my…

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