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Writing Exercise: 5 Words into Fiction

There’s a writer’s exercise I believe to be great fun (pretty sure I’ve shared about it here before). I highly recommend!

You’re given five random words by someone, anyone, and must fuse them together to create a vignette or flash fiction piece. It’s a challenging way to get the creative juices flowing, and it can be really satisfying to see what you come up with… even when it’s almost too contrived, as my example below seems when I reread it.

Some years back I was given the words binge, crow, foray, refract, and wile. (I can’t remember now who’d dealt them to me.)


Her hair, beautiful and harsh, is the color of a crow. This is by careful choice, and she has it dyed once a month, every third Tuesday. She loves the mystique of the hue, the way it refracts the light as a wile, almost like there’s some blue to it.


Image courtesy of khunaspix at

Noah would have adored it, and so of course this is why. It is for him.

It was a month after he disappeared that she first had it colored. His foray into nothingness, hers into vanity. Because it is the single binge she’s found that stills the hurt, quiets the shame. Eating didn’t do it; she felt empty. Not drinking; she felt a waste of herself. And sleeping with Noah’s best friend, Mart, only buried guilt in her stomach and in her dreams.

So it is also for her, the hair and the rest, with the primping and pampering and perfection. It all says she is significant and strong and courageous, that she is and will be okay.

When she looks in the mirror to see what Noah left behind, she is satisfied by what she sees and she tells herself, You will be okay.


If there’s one thing I like about this little piece, it’s that the character comes through so strongly. I like her found sense of empowerment, that she has a thing—a simple thing – proving that, really, it comes down to decision and perspective—that affirms her status of being okay.

Now, so many years after writing this, a wholly different person than I was then, I relate to her. I appreciate her resolve, and that she herself has claimed the way it will be.

Do you want to try? Leave a comment below and I’ll give you five words.

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