Writing Tip – Rule of Five

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My middle school kids don’t like to edit or revise anything they write down.  Come to think of it, I don’t like to do that too much either.  That’s a big problem when you are opening up a paper, so sometimes I force my students to follow the rule of five?

What’s the rule of five?  It’s where you write the same event five different ways, and then you pick your favorite.  I’ll carry out this exercise to show you exactly what I mean.

Yesterday, I went to a Major League Baseball game where the Milwaukee Brewers faced the Colorado Rockies.  I’ll take one play from that game, and describe it five different times.  In his second at bat of the game, Rickie Weeks hit a home run.  That’s what happened.  Don’t count that first bland description as one of my five attempts.

Rickie Weeks Crushing It!

Rickie Weeks Crushing It!

I don’t normally draw like the picture above, but I was inspired.  Rickie Weeks was impressive last night.  He hit a single, a double, and a home run.   Here’s my five tries at a descriptive event.  I decided against using any bold or italics in these descriptions because that’s not how I would write in a book.

1. As soon as Juan let go of the ball, he knew something bad was about to happen.  He didn’t turn over the grip on his slider and the baseball just hung in the air.  The ball screamed, “Hit me!  Hit me hard!” and Rickie obliged.  With a lightning fast stroke, Rickie turned that flat slider around.  The ball launched off the bat like a rocket.  It reached its final destination in the left field bleachers in a matter of seconds.

2. Standing at 5 feet 10 inches and weighing in at 215 pounds, Weeks is built more like a running back than a second basemen.  He uses his monster forearms and muscular frame with deadly efficiency, creating some of the fastest bat speed in the major leagues.  Juan Nicasio found out first hand what happens when Weeks strikes a pitch on the sweet spot of his bat.  An unmistakable CRACK echoed throughout the stadium as Weeks unloaded on a pitch from Nicasio.  The ball whistled through the air, over the left field fence, and ended it’s flight path by leaving a dent in the bleachers.

3. The ball was absolutely crushed.  Carlos Gonzalez, the left fielder for the Colorado Rockies, knew it was gone from the moment it jumped off of Rickie Weeks’ bat.  Gonzalez didn’t even turn around to see where it was going to land, because he knew it was a souvenir for a lucky fan.

4. The best feeling in all of sports.  To hit a baseball square.  Weeks saw the slider tumble toward him and uncoiled his body.  Hips turn, chest toward the ball, hands whip forward, and bat meets ball.  Like a hot knife slicing through soft butter, he felt almost nothing, but the sound left no doubt.  That baseball was going out.  As straight as a string, the ball traveled over 400 feet over the wall and into the stands.

5. The normal call from Bob Uecker, the play by-play radio announcer for the Brewers, for a home run by Rickie Weeks would sound like this. “Here’s the pitch. Rickie Weeks to left field and deep.  HEY!  Get up. Get up. Get outa here and gone for Rickie!”  On this home run, Weeks hit the ball so hard it traveled out of the stadium too fast for Uecker to even describe it.  He only managed to say, “Here’s the pitch. Rick!” and then the ball reached the seats.

That last one was a bit of a stretch, but I was running out of ideas.  Back off.  No one said following the rule would be real easy!  Enough about that stuff.  Hey, guess what?  I’m still following my blog writing rules.  Write books first and then blog!

Words written since my last post for my next book: Just over 2,ooo

What went well: The start of a previous chapter was bothering me, so I fixed it.  Take that chapter nine.

What did I struggle with:  The flow in the chapter I’m writing now isn’t as smooth.  My protagonist is taking a back seat in this chapter, and I’m afraid since this book is in first person, he’s just getting pulled through the plot.  I’ve got to make him more invested in the story.  GRRR!

Writing Tip: Remember to give each character distinct differences in dialogue (how’d you like that alliteration).  You can give them accents, different levels of vocabulary, or alter their speech pattern.  Don’t make them talk like Yoda though.  There’s only one Yoda.

What do think about the rule of five?  Did you like any of my descriptions?  Which one was your favorite?  I’m not telling you what was mine.  I’d like to hear what you have to say.  Feel free to try that out when you have something you want to describe.

– Dave