Famous Starts, Humble Endings, an exercise

side by side comparison of poorly restored art

Hello! Welcome to the writing game of Famous Starts, Humble Endings. Each week, I’ll bring you superb works by famous writers, and we’ll ruin them and laugh about it. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll get ideas for a project…but that’s not the goal. The goal is to have fun.

Let’s start with writing poetry. I’ll give you the first line. You write the next two. Don’t worry about rhythm (unless you’re good at that, in which case, do you & congrats), but focus on finding two lines you like. Do try to gently rhyme the 1st and 3rd lines.

from Yeats, The Grey Rock –

Though you may think I waste my breath,

Though you may think I waste my breath,
nothing spent on you counts amiss
If it’s freely given, it isn’t theft.

Though you may think I waste my breath,
Pretending that there can be passion
That has more life in it than death,

How’d you do? I had trouble finding a word to rhyme that wasn’t death. And then I see that Yeats did use death, and felt a little smug.

This time, don’t make it a poem. Make it a story start. Don’t go with your first thought. Try to go with the more difficult third idea you find. Here’s a line fragment.

Yeats, The Grey Rock –
…the gods were still and sleepy, having had their meal, and smoky torches made a glare…

mine –
(first idea)
I snuck beneath the tables strewn with gnawed bones and drained ale.
(second idea)
One god, not quite comforted by the sensation of satiation, flicked a glittering blue eye open.
(third idea)
uh…hmm…why is the third idea so hard??
Now was the best time for Arthur to argue his side of why the unicorn should be retired. He’d been thinking about it all eon, and knew it was an unpopular opinion. Arthur wanted to move beyond the unicorn’s mythical healing. It limited his patrons. What Arthur wanted was medicine. Universal healthcare as the ideal, but honestly, he’d settle for a placebo. Anything but the unicorns being hunted and trapped. It was barbaric.

How’d you do?

If you’re so inclined, please share your lines in the comments. It helps everyone, and makes me feel pretty good, too.

Thanks for playing!

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