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There are signs everywhere [Aug 6] »

Last weekend, Harold, Tania, and ChefQuix came to Amsterdam by train and ferry from London. Good times!

Although Harold and Tania have now returned to their cozy flat, ChefQuix will be living with us for one month. After his stay, he will be heading to Romania for 6 months, where he will be crafting a novel. As such, I have enrolled him in Wally Glutton’s Quixotic Boot Camp for Writers.

The purpose of this boot camp is to boost creativity while decreasing self-censorship, through constraints on time, word count, vocabulary, and subject matter.

The first warm-up exercise is now complete:

Task: Write the first sentence for 10 novels you would never write.

Constraints: Sentences must be under 25 words.


  • The still night broke with a death rattle that wandered through the hallways of the ancient mansion.

  • Sharlene always knew that she would die a lonely spinster; she just didn’t realize how sharp the emptiness would be.

  • Although the 42nd President was one of the most hated, he was also one of the most respected for his unwavering vision.

  • There are millions of births and deaths each day - maybe it’s hundreds - but on any day people are born and people die.

  • A chill breeze blew across the prairie, the first signs of winter on its gusty breath.

  • Booboo the bear bought a bunch of balloons for his beautiful wife, Belle.

  • The road seemed long ahead, but Charles knew he would finish the Tour de France ahead of Neil.

  • There are things in the night, things out of sight, things that crawl near in the depths of our fear.

  • Beatrice had never believed in love at first sight until he strolled in on a warm summer’s night.

  • High noon came and went, but Buckshot Benny was nowhere to be seen.

Gadsby is a wonderful example of constraint in writing —a story of over 50,000 words without using the letter “E”— not to be confused with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

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