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#11--Creative, Unique, Fresh

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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#11--Creative, Unique, Fresh

Postby glorybee » Sun May 09, 2010 9:34 pm

Well, I got almost no responses to my last lesson. Help me out, folks—where did I lose you? I’m going to give it another shot (and this time I’ll give a homework assignment), but then I might take a bit of a break.

Quick Take: The words ‘every day’ and the word ‘everyday’ don’t mean the same thing.

‘Every day’ is a phrase meaning ‘each 24-hour period’. Here it is in a sentence:

I try to eat something gooey and chocolate every day.

‘Everyday’ is an adjective meaning ‘ordinary, usual, not particularly special’. Here it is in a sentence:

Dexter went to the job interview in his everyday clothes, but he didn’t make much of an impression.

Here’s a sentence that uses them both correctly:

Julia’s everyday dishes were chipped and cracked, so while her in-laws visited, she brought out her best china every day.

HOMEWORK #1: Write a sentence for ‘every day’ and a sentence for ‘everyday’ (or one sentence that uses them both).


***

The second judging criterion for the Writing Challenge reads like this: How creative, unique, and fresh was this entry?

I covered this territory in Writing Out of the Box, but I may be able to come up with a few more pointers. Some of us, after all, are more comfortable IN the box—but our writing must still come across as creative and fresh, or no one will want to read it. For example, for the recent “Manuscript” week, there were lots of people who thought of finding an old manuscript in an attic. Some of those entries were great—and some were a bit dusty. After a while, the judges may have had some trouble remembering which attic entry was which.

So…if you find yourself thinking fairly conventionally most weeks—how can you score well with the judges on criterion #2?

1. Give your people interesting things to do. While Susie’s tromping around in the attic, have her crunch an old glass Christmas ornament under foot, or peek out of the attic window to see the teenager next door sneaking a smoke.

2. Appeal to your readers’ senses. Give Jim a paper cut as he opens the letter from the publisher. Have Charlotte awaken with the taste of lavender in her mouth. You know those little frogs that chirp really loudly? Maybe they’re interfering with Sal’s concentration. Lynette is bothered every time she sees the unnecessary apostrophe in the billboard she passes every day. Sam opens the fridge for a soda, and smells something ‘off’. I realize that we only have 750 words, and sensory details seem like a waste of precious territory—but they may make the difference between your story and the one that was kind of like it.

3. Include little details. By ‘details’, I don’t mean lots and lots of detailed descriptions. Rather, try to sprinkle little items and actions throughout your entry like, well, like sprinkles on a donut. You don’t want your donut to have a gazillion sprinkles—but a few colorful doodads really enhance the donut experience. Here’s an example of what I mean:

…Grandma Phyllis is older than Nana Dot, and she has a small brown mole near her lip that disturbs Natalie. She can’t find a way to talk to her grandma without seeing that mole, which looks like a cookie crumb that should be brushed away...

Now, that mole had nothing to do with the plot of this story; the story would have been essentially unchanged without it. But it’s a small detail that readers might remember (and it also helps in visualization of Grandma Phyllis, poor thing).

4. Here’s a hint for you non-fiction and devotional writers: Give your entry a personal touch. Devotionals or Bible studies that read like academic papers or expository discourses have not traditionally done well in the Writing Challenge. Consider your audience; many readers here have heard years or even decades of sermons, Bible studies, and scriptural lessons. It’s especially important, then, to make yours stand out. One way to make your devotional unique is to tell how you learned this lesson—after all, there’s nothing more unique than personal experience. Real-life, personal application is gold as far as judging devotionals go. Even if you’re writing non-fiction, tell us a story or give us an object lesson.

5. Add humor. That goes for fiction and non-fiction alike. Even a serious story or a serious essay can have a moment of humor; haven’t we all had a laugh at a funeral, or found something humorous in the direst of circumstances?

6. Add a touch of the unexpected to your story (see Gerald Shuler's post below...thanks, Gerald).

7. Place your entry in an interesting setting (see Pottersclay's post--thanks, Joan!).

That’s enough for now—I’ve got two more homework assignments for you (did you catch the first one, after the ‘Quick Take’?).

HOMEWORK #2: Give us another item for this list of ways that writers can be creative, unique, and fresh.

HOMEWORK #3: I’m going to give you a very specific scenario. Everyone gets the same one, so ‘unique’ is out. But I want you to write it in a creative and fresh way, either by using my suggestions, or just by breaking out on your own. PLEASE—150 words or less! 150 words or less! Seriously! 150 words or less!

Here’s the scenario: A person is driving when he/she sees a glint of something shiny just off the road. This person is torn between the need to get where he/she is going and curiosity about the shiny thing.

Got it? Write! And make it creative and fresh.


By the way—you don’t have to do all three homework assignments. Do one, two, or three of them, but I’d sure like to hear something from you!
Last edited by glorybee on Mon May 10, 2010 9:06 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Ms. Barbie » Sun May 09, 2010 11:15 pm

Shoving that last bite of brownie into her mouth, Jan momentarily took both hands off the steering wheel to retrieve her cell phone. “Mmhaloom?” The car swerved and the full can of Diet Coke splattered to the floor.
“Dagnabit!” Jan straightened the car and rescued the remaining soda. Washing down the glob of chocolate while continuing on her way to grandbaby’s home she noticed a glowing red box in the ivy bed below the highway over-pass

“What in the world is that?” Pulling over to the side of the road, she eyed the container. Ring-Ring. “Now what?”

“Mom? You Ok? We’re waiting for you!”
“I’m almost there…gimme five minutes. Ba-bye.”
“ I gotta check that thing out” Jan decided as she exited the car.
“Woohoo! I hit the jackpot!” Picking up the case of Diet Coke, Jan looked left, then right, and then shoved the carton into her trunk.
_______________________________________

I read the FaithWriter’s forum every day and am well aware that it is an everyday occurrence that one of the guys will have a witty post
Barb Culler

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Postby BusBoss » Sun May 09, 2010 11:46 pm

The wipers screeched as they smeared the rain across the windshield. “I hate this,” Terri muttered as she tightened her grip on the wheel. “Where is that turnoff?” She glanced at her cell phone. “No Signal … Figures”

She squinted at the glare of oncoming headlights. “Kill the brights, buddy.” She slowed to a crawl and pulled to the right as the car fle past. “Idiot.” She blinked her eyes. “What was that?” She stared into the darkness as she crept along.

Another glimpse.

“It’s just a reflection.” She began to accelerate. “My headlights must’ve shined on something.” She focused on the road ahead. “Now where is that turnoff?”

She glanced in her mirror.

“What if it was a car?” She paused. “What if they need help?” She heaved a sigh. “Sarah and Beth must be worried by now.”

Her emotions churned.

“What should I do?”
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Postby GShuler » Mon May 10, 2010 12:32 am

Assignment 1:
Add a touch of the unexpected to your story. For example, if Granny is the quiet type that gets rattled by every sound she hears, the reader might expect her to head for the phone to dial 911 if she hears the back door open. Then you would expect her to cower in a corner until the police arrive. But instead of calling the police, she grabs a gun out of the drawer… one that hasn’t had a bullet in it for over twenty years. She points the gun toward the sound and shouts “Now would be the perfect time for you to leave.”
As much fun as it would be to do Assignments 2 & 3, I’ll leave that for the two target groups (Beginner and Intermediate) I just wanted to touch base.
I had something really memorable to write here but I forgot what it was.
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Postby glorybee » Mon May 10, 2010 7:45 am

Barb, I've got to give you this week's gold star for working in both brownines and Diet Coke--and a grandbaby!

I like these details:

The muffled, mouth-full-of-brownies talking
The splatter of the Diet Coke
The realistic dialogue

Two notes: at least where I come from, Diet Coke comes in a silver/gray carton...and if you get a chance, read my lesson on 'onomatopoeia' from several months ago to see my opinion of those telephone noises.

Thanks for your homework, Barb! Any additional comments on 'creative, unique, and fresh'?
Jan Ackerson

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Postby danamc » Mon May 10, 2010 7:50 am

Homework #1

I had a nice break from my everyday routine yesterday. It's not every day that I get presents and breakfast in bed.


Homework #2

One way to make an entry different is to rule out the obvious. For example, if I immediately think of a mouse when I read the topic "Eek", then lots of other people will probably think the same thing.

I will do Homework #3 later.

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Postby glorybee » Mon May 10, 2010 8:08 am

Tim, thanks for your entry!

I love its quick pacing--something I should have mentioned in my post (but I'll be sure to cover it later). Your little story had a mood of suspense, and the short, choppy paragraphs and sentences heightened the feeling of zipping traffic and split-second decisions.

And the open ending--super! Not every story needs to be neatly concluded--sometimes the best ending is no ending at all.

Well done!
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Postby glorybee » Mon May 10, 2010 8:11 am

Dana, good job on Homework #1 and #2!

I look forward to reading #3...thanks for your contribution.
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Postby PottersClay » Mon May 10, 2010 8:57 am

Hi Jan

I'm sure you haven't "lost" people. Just look at how many people view your post. I think there are many like myself who quietly observe from the sidelines and learn. I'm always hopping over to read your lessons and what everyone else is coming up with.

I know, I know...you learn more from DOING, and from now on I will be more diligent and do the assigned homework! I think it's a good idea to give options for homework like you did this time, allowing people to choose what they are the most comfortable doing.

One more point on this, I use your past lessons as reference material when I need help on a certain topic. Obviously, the interactive phase has passed, but I still gain a great deal from it. It would be a real loss to FW if you decided to stop the classes!

Anyway...on to my attempt at assignment 2: Another way of making your story more interesting is choosing an interesting and unique SETTING. I tried to do this in my entry for "The Manuscript" - watch out when the hint comes and you can all read it and tell me if it worked :wink:

Joan
Give me the love that leads the way,
The faith that nothing can dismay,
The hope no disappointments tire,
The passion that will burn like fire.
Let me not sink to be a clod,
Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.
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Postby Ms. Barbie » Mon May 10, 2010 9:29 am

glorybee wrote:
Two notes: at least where I come from, Diet Coke comes in a silver/gray carton...and if you get a chance, read my lesson on 'onomatopoeia' from several months ago to see my opinion of those telephone noises.

Thanks for your homework, Barb! Any additional comments on 'creative, unique, and fresh'?


onomatopoeia "No post exists.... :( What was that referring too?

You are correct about the carton,but I was trying for an entire case-guess I left that part out :oops:

No comments on the other assignment for I don't have a clue! :oops:
Barb Culler

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Postby BusBoss » Mon May 10, 2010 9:46 am

Jan - The onomatopoeia thread seems to have been wiped out by the melt down. There's only like 4 or 5 post of the three pages that once existed.
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Postby glorybee » Mon May 10, 2010 10:16 am

Barb, I don't want to hijack my own thread, so I've sent you a PM with the 'onomatopoeia" class. Let me know what you think!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby AnneRene' » Mon May 10, 2010 1:04 pm

Lesson #1

Feeding my pets is such a boring everyday task, but if I want them to live, I have to feed them every day.  (this is my attempt at a little humor)

Lesson #2

Although I’m a huge humor advocate, also like using suspense and fantasy in my stories. (You said one, so hope two is all right)

Lesson #3

Tossing safety concerns into oblivion, Logan sped into and out of every twisting turn, the familiar country road had to offer. His priority was to arrive at the ballpark before that first pitch of his idolized team.

Capturing a quick flash of an elusive object on the side of the road, as he sped passed it, caused him to take his foot off the gas pedal and peer into the rearview mirror as the shining entity continued to reflect its brightness.

Feeling the need to keep going and make it to the ball game on time, he dismissed his curiosity and once more increased his speed. As he put his foot back onto the gas pedal and quickly increased his speed, his car slid out of control, sending him over the embankment that led into complete darkness.

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Postby glorybee » Mon May 10, 2010 2:14 pm

AnneRene' wrote:Lesson #1

Feeding my pets is such a boring everyday task, but if I want them to live, I have to feed them every day.  (this is my attempt at a little humor) Perfect!

Lesson #2

Although I’m a huge humor advocate, also like using suspense and fantasy in my stories. (You said one, so hope two is all right) Two was fine--I particularly like your mention of suspense. It goes along with conflict, an essential element in short stories and one that I've devoted many lessons to.

Lesson #3

Tossing safety concerns into oblivion, Logan sped into and out of every twisting turn the familiar country road had to offer. His priority was to arrive at the ballpark before that first pitch of his idolized team.

Capturing a quick flash of an elusive object on the side of the road as he sped past it caused him to take his foot off the gas pedal and peer into the rearview mirror. The shining object continued to glint behind him.

Feeling the need to keep going and make it to the ball game on time, he dismissed his curiosity and once more increased his speed. As he put his foot back onto the gas pedal and quickly increased his speed, his car slid out of control, sending him over the embankment that led into complete darkness.


Good job, AnneRene! I took out a few commas and edited a few not-quite-right words.

Here's something to look at--do you see anything that the first words of each paragraph have in common? Is that something that you could find a way to vary? And in your 3rd paragraph--you use 'increased his speed' twice in two sentences; that's something to reconsider.

I really like the sensation of speed and urgency throughout, and words like 'oblivion' and 'peer'. Very well done!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby danamc » Mon May 10, 2010 2:33 pm

Homework #3


“Wait! Stop the car, Doris, stop the car.”

“Land sakes alive, Frank, what are trying to do, make me wreck?”

“I saw something in the grass, looked like a bracelet, maybe had some diamonds in it.”

“Absolutely not, we’re already late for bingo. They’ll probably run out of cards.”

“Doris, it may be worth something. It’ll just take a minute for me to look.”

“Frank, you are wearing me out with this treasure hunt of yours. You spent our entire winter in Florida fooling with that metal detector and what do you have to show for it?”

“Well, I’ll say at least two of those coins are collector’s items.”

“Sure, trash collector maybe.”

“Fine, but when we get to the center, I’m driving back to check on it.”

“That suits me fine. You never hear the calls anyway, might help if you’d wear your hearing aid.”

“Huh?”

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