by Peter Beatson, Tony Chapelle, David Fountain
The idea behind Life Sentences is three writers use the same sentence or paragraph to start a story and then finish it. The result is 38 short stories, each averaging 500 words.
The starters were provided by a member of the group or a friend. The result proves that if three writers use the same starting point each writer will find a different way to continue the story. Apart from the start, no story is the same. They are fun, tongue in cheek, and creative. There are some that are serious but mostly they entertain. For those who like to read about other places there are stories that take readers to other countries. However, most are set in New Zealand.
There are stories of extraordinary beauty such as those found in Harmony where the writers are given this short sentence: Despite the harmony, he shuddered.
This short sentence becomes a story about the crafting of an aeolian harp in Spring Wind Song (88). Music, Metempsychosis (89) is extraordinarily beautiful with a comparison to the Gods and the birth of Stephen Hawking. Requiem teleports the reader to another world where a recording of Vivaldi’s ‘Gloria’ plays.
The interesting thing about this exercise is that it inspires the writers to experiment with genre. For example, this sentence: Imprinted on the yellowing pages of the old book, just at the beginning of the third chapter, was the outline of a fern frond that must have been used as a bookmark generates stories from three different genre: romance, historical, memoir.
This book is perfect for anyone who aspires to become a writer. The prompt that sets each story in motion can be used by writers as story starters. Encouragement to do this is at the end of each completed set of stories.
Some may say that providing the start to a story is prescriptive and could compromise the writer’s creative spirit. However, when you read the outcomes of the exercise from these three writers there is no question that the opposite happens. The supplied sentences trigger their imaginations, and it is interesting to see where that takes them.
Exercises like these train writers to keep to topic, expand an idea and explore one’s own creativity. The 500 word limit also keeps the stories tight.
It is hugely entertaining with some of the stories causing me to laugh out loud as in The Moment by Tony Chapelle. Other stories revealed a skill in developing character as in Peter Beatson’s Bless ‘em All and for political comment as in The Leader Grieves by David Fountain
It is essentially a book of witty, thoroughly entertaining short stories.
Founder: Stylefit, firstname.lastname@example.org
Author: Peter Beatson, Tony Chapelle, David Fountain
Publisher: Rangitawa Publishing email@example.com
Available: in print from bookshops and online bookshops or from publisher. Available on kindle through Amazon