Using Random Phrases -Another Version of Lift A Line

I cannot take credit for this idea. It comes from David Morley’s Writing Challenges. But I did see it as a variation on the lift a line strategy that many teachers use. So I have made use of this idea to generate additional writing ideas. I place a phrase into my writing, or I write off the phrase. In that way the lifted line becomes a spark for more writing

The idea is that you open a book randomly and place your finger anywhere on one of the pages, without looking. Then select a phrase or a sentence that appeals, or you wish you had written. The selected phrase needs to be near where you place your finger. Transfer the selected words to the top of a new page in your writer’s notebook. Repeat this process using the same book (different pages) or choose different books each time –it depends on your access to books.

Here are some lifted phrases I harvested in a short few minutes from my library of books.

‘The sacred moment was turning into an agony’ (Ash Road)
‘A booming voice grunted’ (The Thief Lord)
‘Spouts of bitter laughter erupted’ (Star Girl)
‘He wanted an excuse to stay home’ (Hoot)
‘He drew the curtains on a secret world’ (Running Man)
‘She tried not to be disappointed’ (War)
‘Dragonflies hovered above the pool’ (Ceremony)


You get the idea?

I filled a page with random phrases. I now find when I reread them they often connect to possible writing ideas. It is not dissimilar to a topic list.

Try it, - and then try it with your students. This simple idea draws attention to the words writer’s use and it sparks potential new writing.

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