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Jan's Master Class--SLICE OF LIFE

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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Postby glorybee » Tue Feb 17, 2009 9:59 am

Verna--you write prose, too? Whoo hoo, a multi-gifted woman! Yep, that was a slice of life, all right, and it revealed the characters of both of your women. Very good.
Jan Ackerson

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Postby hwnj » Tue Feb 17, 2009 10:02 am

Well, with the answers to those questions being "no, no, and no," I'm left with one possibility, though it may still have too many people, and does have a shift in scene.
Connecting The Dots
It's one of my least favorite entries, and you don't really want to know why I wrote it. But since you asked... (and you can feel free to edit this out if you wish)

I wrote it to test my theory that the judges tend to be suckers for sappy slices of life about people with disabilities. It placed third.

See, I told you you didn't want to know.
:shock: :P :roll: :sorry :zipped :hide
Holly

"There are two ways of spreading light -- to be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it." Edith Wharton

'It is better to be liked for the true you, than to be loved for who people think you are.'

"In order to realize the worth of the anchor, one needs to feel the stress of the storm." Daily Encouragement Net (Stephen & Brooksyne Weber)

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Postby glorybee » Tue Feb 17, 2009 10:24 am

Holly, if that's not a slice of life story, it's pretty close! It's in a limited time span, very few characters, and it reveals the personality of its protagonist. The only thing that would make it more apt to the lesson would be a sense of intimacy with the main character...most of the story is revealed through dialogue rather than through thoughts, emotions, etc.

By the way, a writer who's not here much any more once wrote a piece for the very same reasons as you just cited--and it did very well in the challenge, too. Gulp!

So...maybe some time in the next several challenges, you can write a moody, introspective slice of life, huh?
Jan Ackerson

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Postby Symphonic » Tue Feb 17, 2009 1:05 pm

“I’ll have one slice of life, with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkling of cocoa, please...”

Seriously, this is one lesson I need to take to heart. My “slices” tend to be heavily weighted with too much plot filling and topping.

I wrote a story for the “Home for Christmas” week last quarter, but you won’t find it here... because it adamantly refused to be squeezed into 750 words. And the more I think about it, the more I’m sure it would have been better if I had approached it as a “slice of life” rather than as a novelette.

That’s also true for my second Challenge entry, “No Reflection on You”:

www.faithwriters.com/wc-article-level2- ... p?id=25929

Looking at it now, I realize that it still bears the weight of the 700 or so words I had to cut from it. It’s heavy-handed and didactic; and I think it would have been a better, more focused story had I told it as a “slice of life,” with Glinda sorting out which ornaments she wanted to keep and to give away.

Probably the closest I’ve come to writing a true slice of life for the Challenge is my current South America entry--I hinted about it in the proper thread yesterday. I’m not absolutely certain that it qualifies... but at least it only has one character speaking (though another is implied), and it takes place all in one setting.

I enjoyed reading everyone’s examples, and I’m glad you included a poetic one, Jan. Some of Browning’s dramatic monologues may also qualify. One of his most famous, “My Last Duchess,” takes place as two people look at a portrait... but a great deal is revealed about the character and history of the Duke in that short monologue.

As always, thanks for the great discussion!

Carol S.

P.S. Regarding future topics... since I missed most of them, I would be just as glad if you would go back and repeat all of them from the beginning–-but everyone else might not agree! So I would vote for the “genre” idea that several other people have mentioned. The “genre” quarter would have been fun, though very challenging. (And why, oh why, wasn’t I around for “Write something in the MYSTERY genre”??) :)

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Postby glorybee » Tue Feb 17, 2009 1:14 pm

Carol, I definitly think "No Reflection on You" qualifies.

It's so hard to keep to those 750 words, isn't it? But I really think the ability to do that well is one of the main benefits of the challenge. Not that 750 word pieces are particularly marketable, but that the challenge forces us to use every word for its maximum impact. If a person can write a good, tight slice of life story (as you have here), then they can use those great skills in their longer pieces.

I'm working on the format for the next class, and I'm thinking that "genre" will definitely come in to play. Thanks so much for your input!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby GShuler » Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:46 pm

Question: Except for true Epic poems, wouldn't most standard poetry fall into a "slice of life" tag? I've been looking at most of my own poetry and it seems to fit the bill fairly often.
I had something really memorable to write here but I forgot what it was.
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Postby glorybee » Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:53 pm

Gerald, I think that "slice of life" will apply to some poems, but not necessarily most. Lots of poetry consists of the poet's musings about life, or some other topic, but that's not really a slice of life.

I'd call it a slice of life if something small happens in the poem, like in the Walter de la Mare piece I linked to in the original post, and if that small event shines a light on the person in the poem (not necessarily on the poet).

Clear as mud?
Jan Ackerson

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Postby Chely » Tue Feb 17, 2009 4:50 pm

Hmmm...your classes always cause me to pour over my entries and pick em apart. :shock:

I have several that come close to the criteria, but not quite. This one, Crushed Velvet and Rubies, might be the closest. It does have a tiny flashback, and a tiny flash forward, but it was designed like that to enphasize the MC's total lack of concentration (the topic). Not one of my favorites, and my only attempt in this genre.

It's descriptive because it's romantic, and pointless, because it's romantic, and has only a tinge of conflict (lack of concentration) because it was romantic.

The pie was mushy and overly sweet, but I am pretty sure it was a slice of life. :?

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Postby glorybee » Tue Feb 17, 2009 5:59 pm

Chely, it works for me! (I never, ever would have pegged you as the author of that story.) It's definitely a slice of life, though.

You realize, don't you, that I pick these topics specifically to make you root through your old stories? My next topic will be "Stories that use the word "the" too frequently", and you'll have to pore through them all, counting the "the"s.

Muahhhhaaaaahaaaaahaaaaa.
Jan Ackerson

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Postby GShuler » Tue Feb 17, 2009 7:30 pm

glorybee wrote:You realize, don't you, that I pick these topics specifically to make you root through your old stories? My next topic will be "Stories that use the word "the" too frequently", and you'll have to pore through them all, counting the "the"s.

Muahhhhaaaaahaaaaahaaaaa.


One thing these classes have taught (at least for me) is that a good writer can break almost any rule of good writing and still have a powerful piece of work. So even if you did a class on not using "the" too often, someone would have a story that wouldn't work without using "the" too much.

The point the student is making to the teacher is the truth of the essence of the art of good writing. The end.

(OK, that was horrible. You made your point.
I had something really memorable to write here but I forgot what it was.
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Postby glorybee » Tue Feb 17, 2009 7:35 pm

You DID make your point, Gerald (and you made me grin)--that point being that writing is an art, and that nothing I EVER say is engraved in stone.

Thanks for saying it so amusingly!
Jan Ackerson

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slice

Postby yvonne » Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:29 pm

Here's one of mine that I think is a "slice of life":
Mother of the Bride

I like writing this type of thing. Sometimes, when a tragic or life-changing incident happens, time seems to stand still, and all kinds of emotions run through your mind. Your senses seem to capture the smells and sounds of the moment. It imprints it into your mind.

vonnie

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Re: slice

Postby glorybee » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:09 pm

yvonne wrote: Sometimes, when a tragic or life-changing incident happens, time seems to stand still, and all kinds of emotions run through your mind. Your senses seem to capture the smells and sounds of the moment. It imprints it into your mind.


EXACTLY!!!!

That was a PERFECT example of a slice of life story. Two gold stars for you.
Jan Ackerson

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Postby lthomas » Thu Feb 19, 2009 2:16 pm

Here's my homework assignment, I'm thinking it will work. At least much better than my other entries for this quarter are working. By the way, Jan, congratulations on your writings this quarter - your work is wonderful, reflecting a great talent.

I remember, while writing this, that I was there, with the brothers on the porch listening and watching. It was, to me, a slice of their lives at that time.

Fifteen Minutes Behind

Loren
"And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything." From "As You Like It." Wm. Shakespeare.

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Postby glorybee » Thu Feb 19, 2009 3:14 pm

Loren, I remember that piece very well. It's a perfect slice of life--moody, intimate, and very, very tiny. Beautifully written, too.
Jan Ackerson

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