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Jan's New "Class"--Writing Basics

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.

Moderators: mikeedwards, glorybee

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Sarah Elisabeth
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Postby Sarah Elisabeth » Fri Jan 22, 2010 11:53 pm

Thank you Jan! I had a sneaking suspicion that I was starting to become overly critical and even cynical about everything I read now :roll: I read the book "Self Editing for Fiction Writers" and while it has a lot of great stuff in it, they do tear a story apart, word by word (disclaimer: the book "Self Editing" has objectionable content I blacked out with a pen :shock: ). So now when I see "was, that, had been" or the author says anything more than once, a fire alarm goes off in my head.

The novel is "Blood Sisters" by Melody Carlson. For some reason, this particular line bothered me - "Suddenly a pair of wildly yapping dogs ran up." Maybe because the action came so abrubtly with nothing to introduce it but the word "suddenly".

Anyway, thanks for taking the red out of my eyes so I can now relax and enjoy the story. See, you're teaching me again!

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Postby Netty » Sat Jan 23, 2010 11:24 pm

thanks Jan. Yes its my own writing and please feel free to edit it.

will be waiting for the feedback.

thanks


:wink:

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Toni Star
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Thank you for this class!

Postby Toni Star » Mon Jan 25, 2010 8:05 am

Thank you, Jan for this class! This topic is so helpful for me for like some, I often look for ways to be more descriptive, more...as you said, "salsa" like...

I take my passage of salsa type words from James Patterson's "7th Heaven". "Tiny lights winked on the Douglas fir standing tall and full in front of the picture window...."

I like this passage because I get the sense that something foreboding is about to happen and it illustrates the atmosphere outside of a home...

Toni
Toni Star, freelance writer/editor and graduate student

"Never give up, for there is always an answer for everyone who seeks, knocks or asks."

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Postby glorybee » Mon Jan 25, 2010 9:21 am

Toni, thanks for that passage--which words specifically did you think were the salsa words?

I've posted this week's class--pop on over!
Jan Ackerson

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Toni Star
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Salsa words...

Postby Toni Star » Mon Jan 25, 2010 1:51 pm

Hi Jan,

Yes, the salsa words, at least in my mind, are tiny, winked, tall and full. Maybe not the best examples of salsa but the words gave me a distinct feeling that something awful could be coming...It really gave me a descriptive atmosphere of doom.

Toni
Toni Star, freelance writer/editor and graduate student

"Never give up, for there is always an answer for everyone who seeks, knocks or asks."

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Postby stepping_Heavenward » Mon Jan 25, 2010 3:28 pm

The Other Wise Man
By Henry Van Dyke

“The young mother’s face grew white with terror. She clasped her child to her bosom, and crouched motionless in the darkest corner of the room, covering him with the folds of her robe, lest he should awake and cry.”

I think this is weak writing:
The young mother got frightened. She held her baby, and hid, still as a mouse in the secluded part of the room, covering him because the baby might wake up and wail.

Thanks.
SteppingHeavenward

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glorybee
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Postby glorybee » Mon Jan 25, 2010 3:31 pm

Excellent, steppingheavenward!

I agree with you, both about the excellent word choices in the passage you quoted, and in your re-write. Thanks for stopping by!
Jan Ackerson

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Will take another try...

Postby Toni Star » Mon Jan 25, 2010 5:42 pm

Thought I'd try again with a different book.."Hideaway" by Dean Koontz: "But the slide became a sickening spin, and the Honda rotated three hundred and sixty degrees, as if it were a carousel without calliope: around....around....until the truck began to come into view again. For an instant...."

I thought three of these words were "salsa like"--sickening, rotated and carousel because they are action-packed and very descriptive. They give little doubt to what was happening; what several people were witnessing...

Hope I'm on the right track now...

Toni
Toni Star, freelance writer/editor and graduate student

"Never give up, for there is always an answer for everyone who seeks, knocks or asks."

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Postby Cajunluvie » Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:48 pm

Ok, I'm putting my toe in the water now. This is a short excerpt from a book I am currently reading just to try a different genre. I think this is young adult.

From: the sweetheart of prosper county by jill s. alexander (Every word in the title and author credit is uncapitalized)

With his long neck, scooped-out back, and peacocklike backside, he looked like a fluffy, black Victorian teapot. Even though she kept her arms folded and smirked, Momma couldn't keep her eyes off him either.

I saw several salsa-like words in that excerpt which were: scooped-out, peacocklike, fluffy, folded, smirked.

A weak rendition could look like this:

With the interesting shapes of his body, he looked like a teapot from the Victorian era. Even though Momma had her arms to her chest and was smiling, she couldn't stop looking at him either.

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Jan's Writing Basics

Postby cranderson » Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:38 pm

“Yellow leaves from the Alder trees drifted down and the vine maple had turned blood red. Elderberry bushes and ferns painted the river banks in green.”
From: “A Mending at the Edge” by Jane Kirkpatrick

I found three salsa words in this passage:
Drifted – This word gives the feeling of a calm autumn day. I visualize a golden tree with leaves falling gently to the ground.
Blood red – This is not just red but blood red, a rich deep red.
Painted – This word brings a picture of splashes and strokes of different shades of green along a calm river. There’s no mention of the movement of water but the word “painted” expresses stillness like a portrait hanging on a wall.

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Postby glorybee » Tue Jan 26, 2010 9:53 am

Toni, great passage. I'd add 'calliope' to your list of words (and possibly take out 'rotated'). It's definitely an action-packed, exciting passage!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby glorybee » Tue Jan 26, 2010 9:55 am

Cajunluvie, welcome!

What a great selection! You've picked out a wonderful list of words, too.

What's your usual genre, and why did you pick this book?

Hope to see your contributions in future classes.
Jan Ackerson

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Postby glorybee » Tue Jan 26, 2010 9:57 am

cranderson, another nice passage, quite lovely. I was particularly taken with your reason for choosing "painted" as it relates to the stillness of the river. Lovely!

If you haven't stopped over and visited the thread on adjectives and adverbs, I hope to see you there!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby farrslcpa » Tue Jan 26, 2010 12:37 pm

Oh, thanks for directing me here (again)! I had forgotten all about this section of the forum. I am eager to learn and see improvements in my writing -- and challenge placements of course :D
Thanks for sharing your secrets with us!

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Toni Star
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Thanks Jan...

Postby Toni Star » Tue Jan 26, 2010 5:01 pm

Thanks Jan, for your guidance and help! Feels good to be on the right track...

Toni
Toni Star, freelance writer/editor and graduate student

"Never give up, for there is always an answer for everyone who seeks, knocks or asks."

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