Sunday, August 21, 2011

3-2-1 Sentences

Here is an exercise I have done with my students to enhance their sentence fluency.  We all know how dull it is to read sentences that are the same length and/or begin with the same thing: And then... or I went...

They are called 3-2-1 sentences.  The idea: Start with a long sentence and work your way down to a short sentence--even a one-word sentence; and try to accomplish it in just three sentences.  I have also heard them called reverse raincoat sentences because you can go 1-2-3 with the same basic idea.

Here are a few of my own attempts:

I walked down the long hallway looking for the right door leading me out to my freedom.  I tried one door, then another.  Locked.

Boys.  There are so many boys in my class.  Sometimes it's hard to imagine quieting down a room full of rambunctious boys.  

The man mysteriously emerged from the dark shadows  repeated between the yellowish ponds of light formed by sporadic street lamps.  Slowly, he looked around for his rendezvous.  Late.

I think this exercise has potential for poetry, as well.  You can take these sentences and focus on line breaks as the poem moves.  For example, take my last example:

The man
mysteriously emerged 
from the dark shadows--
repeated between yellowish ponds
of light
formed by sporadic street lamps.

he looked around 
for his 


Just a thought...

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