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Jan's New Writing Lessons--TIGHT WRITING

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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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons--TIGHT WRITING

Postby Come forth » Wed Sep 18, 2013 1:44 am

Jan wrote:
Still--my own crippling self-doubt (something I've fought all my life)
.

Oh how I identify with that statement. It is debilitating, soul wrenching and so hard to overcome. And yet others look at our writing, the mask that we have so strongly learnt to portray and don't believe we really struggle as we do. Well, that's my story anyway. Now, enough of that.

I don't believe that the problem is in the lesson difficulty or in fact anything to do with the lessons or you. The simple truth is that people are not as active at this as much as they used to be; even reading and writing is not what it once was. The advent of email (where nearly everybody writes at grade 1 level) and text messages (where no attempt is made to even write a sentence -- btw c u morrow, I'll watch 4u) has made everybody as lazy as can be and grammar doesn't even rate.

I also have complained many times about a willingness on this site for people to actually open themselves to constructive criticism. The forums are often very slow, except for the niche's already established, and the critique circle has been the biggest disappointment since I joined. I posted something in the poetry section several days ago and have had no critiques at all. Look through the circle and see how unused it is; I think that is a real shame because it should be the busiest part of this site.

The overall picture is that you personally are doing a great job and those of us that appreciate it do so with very thankful hearts; but I am not sure attendance in class is going to increase.

I will let my challenge buddy know about these classes and encourage him to participate. I will also put a link on my website when I overcome my own crippling self-doubt and get it launched.

Let me end by saying this. If you teach just one of us to write better, and that one person writes something that you inspired, and it leads someone deeper into the Father, then you are a major part of that miracle.

I remember the story I heard about a man's confession as he died. He felt guilty because in his whole life he only ever led on person to the Lord. But that one person was a man named Billy Graham.

Bless you and thank you, Graham.
May we all get eyes to see and ears to hear,
A Revelation of His Word, crystal clear.
Admitting our need to be drawn in,
Less of self, more of Him.

My prayer for us all.
God bless us with the Revelation of His Word, Graham
http://www.shekinahcloud.com/page/page/8464330.htm

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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons--TIGHT WRITING

Postby amilli » Wed Sep 18, 2013 2:02 pm

I have only been a member here for about 2 or 3 weeks. I was directed here by an old member who found me in the newbie nook. As soon as she did, I searched for you & got hooked. I have been stopping by ever since & have found your sessions rather useful & enlightening. (I agree Mike, the newbie nook is the best way to recruit new students. I will start that habit too :thumbs )

We are human beings, we all experience self-doubt every now & then...it keeps pride in check. But let me add that your lessons are very far from being useless, out-dated, too easy or hard. They may be time consuming and requires great dedication, but those are sacrifices that serious writers have to be willing to make. After all, its for our benefit. Sometimes we are just plain lazy to put the effort in the home work! (eeh hem...I might be found guilty of that for this last assignment :sofa ) Regardless, this does not take away from the great job your doing. Be encouraged.
Amelia

My writing is a passion, not a hobby!

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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons--TIGHT WRITING

Postby swfdoc1 » Fri Sep 20, 2013 5:54 pm

I realize that when I first posted I said I had done two edits. I don't think posting it now will help attract more posts to this lesson, but I thought I'd post it anyway since it I had already done it. Plus I thought it would be a chance to alert folks to a question Jan has posted here.

Here's the second edit:

Doreen refused to lift her head from her book. Station after station—Weatherford, Andover, Hampton—still he sat there. Why doesn’t he get off? Doreen squeezed into the corner but couldn’t escape the thigh that crept closer, invading her space. Another tunnel. So dark. She had almost brought her Kindle—its screen would have provided more light than the dying overhead tube. Screeching brakes. The train won’t clear the tunnel before it stops! Involuntarily, her fears named themselves: Mugger? Rapist? Murderer? Her inward scream slipped out as an inarticulate croaking. Then he spoke.

“M-m-ma’am? Would you hold my hand? Please?”
Steve
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“The chief purpose of life … is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks. To do as we say in the Gloria in Excelsis ... We praise you, we call you holy, we worship you, we proclaim your glory, we thank you for the greatness of your splendor.” J.R.R. Tolkien

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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons--TIGHT WRITING

Postby glorybee » Fri Sep 20, 2013 6:14 pm

swfdoc1 wrote:I realize that when I first posted I said I had done two edits. I don't think posting it now will help attract more posts to this lesson, but I thought I'd post it anyway since it I had already done it. Plus I thought it would be a chance to alert folks to a question Jan has posted here.

Here's the second edit:

Doreen refused to lift her head from her book. Station after station—Weatherford, Andover, Hampton—still he sat there. Why doesn’t he get off? Doreen squeezed into the corner but couldn’t escape the thigh that crept closer, invading her space. Another tunnel. So dark. She had almost brought her Kindle—its screen would have provided more light than the dying overhead tube. Screeching brakes. The train won’t clear the tunnel before it stops! Involuntarily, her fears named themselves: Mugger? Rapist? Murderer? Her inward scream slipped out as an inarticulate croaking. Then he spoke.

“M-m-ma’am? Would you hold my hand? Please?”


Thanks for the plug, Steve.

I like this version very much, too. The only change I might make is to put Doreen's thoughts (Why doesn't he get off?) in italics.
Jan Ackerson

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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons--TIGHT WRITING

Postby swfdoc1 » Fri Sep 20, 2013 6:22 pm

Oooh! I meant to!
Steve
nlf.net
________
"When the Round Table is broken every man must follow Galahad or Mordred; middle
things are gone." C.S. Lewis
“The chief purpose of life … is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks. To do as we say in the Gloria in Excelsis ... We praise you, we call you holy, we worship you, we proclaim your glory, we thank you for the greatness of your splendor.” J.R.R. Tolkien

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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons--TIGHT WRITING

Postby Shann » Fri Sep 20, 2013 10:18 pm

I think I cut too much. The first try was 75 words, then 85, then 98. I did get it to 100, but wanted to change who crowded to crowding but that would take me to 99. Oops, I forgot an and so changed to crowding. When I first started doing the challenge I usually had to cut 1,000 words. I've learned a lot of tricks since then. I think this is an excellent lesson and idea. :thankssign

While the subway clanged along, Doreen stared at her book. Inching away from the heavyset man crowding her space, Doreen yearned for a Kindle as the darkness from the tunnel enveloped the train. When the train screeched to a halt in the middle of the tunnel, Doreen felt her throat tighten as her heart raced. She coughed and sputtered, tears filling her eyes. Through the flickering light she noticed the man licking his lips. He turned and smiled at her with a twinkle in his eye. His voice warmed her heart. “Ma’am? Would you hold my hand, please?”
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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons--TIGHT WRITING

Postby Shann » Fri Sep 20, 2013 10:29 pm

I didn't read the other posts before I posted. My heart hurts at your doubt, yet I can so relate. I have zero self-esteem and it is hard to put myself out there. I know many people appreciate this. When I first started, you commented on my challenge entry and invited me to the thread.

I've tried doing that with some of my comments. It's hard because there is no way to leave a link in the comments, but I will try to do that again. I haven't been reading as many challenges as I'd like because I've been crazy busy with editing for the testimony book plus my health has kept me more bed bound than I would like. I will make an effort and I have seen many of your recent advice in the editing I've been doing. I've even referred some people here as a reference instead of some other places. Not everyone will be comfortable posting, but you are making a difference.

I also realize it's a huge amount of work and if there is anything I can do to lighten the load please let me know. Hugs :grouphug
Shann

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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons--TIGHT WRITING

Postby glorybee » Fri Sep 20, 2013 10:31 pm

Shann wrote:While the subway clanged along, Doreen stared at her book. Inching away from the heavyset man crowding her space, Doreen yearned for a Kindle as the darkness from the tunnel enveloped the train. When the train screeched to a halt in the middle of the tunnel, Doreen felt her throat tighten as her heart raced. She coughed and sputtered, tears filling her eyes. Through the flickering light she noticed the man licking his lips. He turned and smiled at her with a twinkle in his eye. His voice warmed her heart. “Ma’am? Would you hold my hand, please?”


That going back and forth to try to hit the target of 100 words is very familiar to me. When I was doing the blog, it was a several-times-a-week experience.

I like your version, and the additional personality you gave to the large man, who is not given much characterization in any of the other versions.

Your second and third sentences both have a clause beginning with "as"; in such a short paragraph, two in a row may be one too many. And I think the flow would be improved if sentences #6 and 7 were joined with "and" (although then you'd have to get rid of a different word elsewhere).

You use a variety of sentence structures, something I'll be touching on in the next few weeks. I appreciate your contributions!
Jan Ackerson

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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons--TIGHT WRITING

Postby Shann » Sat Sep 21, 2013 12:30 am

Aww man, I missed that second as. I had started two sentences with As and switched it to When, but missed that one. You're right that it's too much.

Once on a challenge, someone told me that almost every paragraph began with a name or pronoun. I remember thinking he was exaggerating, but when I went back and looked I saw almost every sentence began that way. That was my first lesson in varying sentence structure. If it would help your lesson in any way, is be happy to find that story and let you use it. :D
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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons--TIGHT WRITING

Postby judi » Tue Sep 24, 2013 5:02 pm

Cringing, Doreen, devouring her lurid suspense novel, desperately wished she’d taken a cab rather than this dark, screeching subway.

Her burly seatmate, reeking of cheap cologne and garlic, edged his beefy thigh closer to hers, forcing Doreen to cower into the wall. If only she’d chosen the backlit Kindle; she felt unsafe with the flickering tube overhead.

Unexpectedly, the train jerked in the suffocating tunnel. Doreen choked in panic.

Her beetle-browed seatmate softly entreated “Ma’am? Please hold my hand?”
:sofa
KJV Revelation 14:12
KJV Hebrews 10:26-31

BUCKETS OF RED INK WELCOME, THANKS!

Congratulations to all who not only win acclaim for your incredibly beautiful entries, but also to all contributing who feel His Holy Spirit move within us as we write to honor Him - all these wondrous heartbeats of praise to YHWH! I love you all.

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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons--TIGHT WRITING

Postby glorybee » Tue Sep 24, 2013 5:10 pm

judi wrote:Cringing, Doreen, devouring her lurid suspense novel, desperately wished she’d taken a cab rather than this dark, screeching subway.

Her burly seatmate, reeking of cheap cologne and garlic, edged his beefy thigh closer to hers, forcing Doreen to cower into the wall. If only she’d chosen the backlit Kindle; she felt unsafe with the flickering tube overhead.

Unexpectedly, the train jerked in the suffocating tunnel. Doreen choked in panic.

Her beetle-browed seatmate softly entreated “Ma’am? Please hold my hand?”


Judi, my word counter has this one at 79 words--while the instructions said to try for 100 words exactly, I've got to admire your ability to capture an entire story in so few words. Well done!

You've got some great word choices--cringing, reeking, beefy, beetle-browed among others. If I were giving this a formal edit, I'd suggest that you've got perhaps too many adjectives and adverbs. On the other hand--that may well be your preferred style.

I might also suggest a re-write of that first sentence to avoid the two-commas-and-two-words beginning.

I'm very much enjoying your contributions to the class!
Jan Ackerson

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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons--TIGHT WRITING

Postby judi » Tue Sep 24, 2013 6:07 pm

Rule #1 - read the instructions!

Doreen avidly devoured her lurid suspense novel. Nail-bitingly nervous, she desperately wished she’d opted for the safety of a warm taxicab rather than ride this dark, clanking and screeching subway train.

Her burly seatmate reeked of cheap cologne and garlic. Squeezing his beefy thigh tightly to her quivering ones, he effectively forced Doreen to cower helplessly into the wall.

Why didn’t she buy the backlit Kindle Book Reader? She felt uneasy with the flickering tube overhead.

Unexpectedly, the train jerks in the suffocating tunnel! Doreen chokes!

And then . . .

her beetle-browed seatmate wistfully entreats: “Ma’am? Please hold hands?”

KJV Revelation 14:12
KJV Hebrews 10:26-31

BUCKETS OF RED INK WELCOME, THANKS!

Congratulations to all who not only win acclaim for your incredibly beautiful entries, but also to all contributing who feel His Holy Spirit move within us as we write to honor Him - all these wondrous heartbeats of praise to YHWH! I love you all.

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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons--TIGHT WRITING

Postby glorybee » Tue Sep 24, 2013 6:47 pm

judi wrote:Doreen avidly devoured her lurid suspense novel. Nail-bitingly nervous, she desperately wished she’d opted for the safety of a warm taxicab rather than ride this dark, clanking and screeching subway train.

Her burly seatmate reeked of cheap cologne and garlic. Squeezing his beefy thigh tightly to her quivering ones, he effectively forced Doreen to cower helplessly into the wall.

Why didn’t she buy the backlit Kindle Book Reader? She felt uneasy with the flickering tube overhead.

Unexpectedly, the train jerks in the suffocating tunnel! Doreen chokes!

And then . . .

her beetle-browed seatmate wistfully entreats: “Ma’am? Please hold hands?”


Judi, I admire you for hanging in there, and I'm sure you realize that anything you post here is open for gentle critique. You're a great sport.

While I still think you have too many adjectives and adverbs, I do like the tension in this version. I especially like the big man's shortened speech here--it makes the reader wonder if he might be somehow impaired. Very well done.

Two things I'd change--you've got two exclamation points in 100 words. It's best to avoid exclamation points in narrative altogether, saving them for dialog only, and then quite rarely. I'd lose those.

And you probably didn't realize that you switched from past tense to present tense halfway through. That's an easy fix, though.

Looking forward to what you have to write next week, when we do compound sentences. Nice to "meet" you.
Jan Ackerson

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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons--TIGHT WRITING

Postby judi » Tue Sep 24, 2013 8:11 pm

Doreen devoured her mother’s titillating suspense novel. Nail-bitingly nervous, she wished she’d taken Mom’s old beater car instead of this drafty subway.

Her hulking seatmate reeked of cheap cologne and garlic, like the nasty villain in her lurid paperback. Squeezing his beefy thigh tightly against her, he squeezed Doreen helplessly against the window.

Forget the dumb book. Protect myself.

The dying overhead light fixture flickered ominously.

Suddenly, still in the black tunnel the train jerkily braked. Doreen, thoroughly unnerved - choked back childish gulping sobs.

And then, whispering . . .

her breathless seatmate wistfully entreats:

“Sweetie? Wanna hold hands?”
KJV Revelation 14:12
KJV Hebrews 10:26-31

BUCKETS OF RED INK WELCOME, THANKS!

Congratulations to all who not only win acclaim for your incredibly beautiful entries, but also to all contributing who feel His Holy Spirit move within us as we write to honor Him - all these wondrous heartbeats of praise to YHWH! I love you all.

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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons--TIGHT WRITING

Postby yarra » Wed Oct 02, 2013 8:32 am

Hi Jan, I've just been reading through this 'Tight Writing' thread now, a couple of weeks after you wrote your lesson. I won't submit an attempt at the 100 word version but I have found your comments and your explanations as to why you cut certain words out really helpful. Thanks.
Regarding the low number of people participating in your lessons - could they be promoted more on the FaithWriters Home page, maybe with a sample of a lesson there? I think there are a lot of people who would find your lessons really helpful, as I do.
I want to participate but have been away on a holiday, computer and internet-free, so I'm just catching up now and reading the missed lessons. Thanks for your work in presenting them and replying to participants.
Blessings, Ellen

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