Sensational Sentence #1


My students struggle to write in a way that is engaging and inspiring.  They disagree with me, of course.  They think what they write is just fine.  And because most of their reading matter is text messages from their mates or the sports pages, I can’t really argue.  

So we had a little competition this last term to see who can write the most sensational sentences.

The challenge was to write sentences where the words and structures were carefully crafted.


Sensational sentences #1

Based on the opening of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities but given a futuristic, dystopian edge.

Challenge: Imagine a world where all your actions are controlled by the government (I know, I said “imagine” right).

After much crafting and playing around - here is what we decided on:

It was the best of lies;
It was the worst of humanity;
It was an age of eternity;

It was an age of control;
It was an epoch of destruction;
It was an epoch of true evil;
It was a season of despair;
It was a season of hell.


How did we craft it?

Line 1 actually started out reading "It was the best of spy technology". This line prompted great debate on whether this would be too obvious for a writer in this imagined world.

One smart cookie piped up with "Would the citizens really be aware of the technology watching them?"

We then went through this:
  1. It was the best of worlds.
  2. It was the best of illusions.
  3. It was the best of futures.
  4. It was the best of lies.
Options 2 and 4 were the most popular. From the perspective of writing, they both work.
A class vote results in number 4 winning.

Line 2 began life as "It was the worst of times for humanity".  After a debate on whether needed to keep Dickens' word "times" (we said no). This line naturally shaped itself into "It was the worst of humanity."

All in all, it took us an hour to write 8 lines.

I think they got the point about crafting their writing!

Thanks for reading.

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