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Be A Better Writer--ALLUSION

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: Be A Better Writer--ALLUSION

Postby glorybee » Tue Nov 05, 2013 3:23 pm

Calvin left the firm and branched out on his own, making money in unsavory ways. But he repented, and made his way back to the firm, hoping they'd take him in. The prodigal allusion works for me.
Jan Ackerson

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Re: Be A Better Writer--ALLUSION

Postby swfdoc1 » Tue Nov 05, 2013 3:51 pm

Hmm. I saw all that. And I agree that people will think of that. But to me none of that implicates being prodigal. Here's a fairly typical definition from Merriam-Webster.com: "characterized by profuse or wasteful EXPENDITURE" (emphasis added). In other words, the Prodigal son isn't called prodigal because of anything that happened in verses 11-12 or verses 14-32 of chapter 15 of Luke. He is only called prodigal because of verse 13. So, gain, when Annabelle says they're 2 prodigals, I'm looking for wasteful expenditures in the story.

I'm not trying to convince you--just explaining my thought process.
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: Be A Better Writer--ALLUSION

Postby GracefulWarrior » Tue Nov 05, 2013 9:58 pm

Hi Jan,

Here is an attempt at allusion.

Jodi stepped off the scale. Oh no, not another pound. Returning to her desk, she had to pass her co-worker.
Edith held out a tin of cookies. "Jodi, Chocolate Chip cookies -- I baked them last night."
Jodi picked one up. "The doctor said I need to loose weight, but your cookies are so good."
Hearing the conversation, Dorothy joined them grinning. "Surely one cookie would not cause you to gain weight." She bit into an apple chomping away happily.
Jodi put the cookie down. "Thanks, but I am officially on a diet." Walking away, she felt like an overcomer.

An example of allusion in the bible.
In the bible when Jesus said "My God why hast thou forsaken me", my understanding is that references PSA 22. So I think the bible is full of allusion. One bible teacher I listen to always says the bible confirms it's self as he is cross referencing scriptures.

I think my husband and friends use allusion all the time with movie lines just to goof around. Like if someone says something and you want to mess with them you might say "Inconceivable" from the princess bride. Or while driving maybe the car is running poorly and you say " I'm giving her all she's got, Captain!" from Star Trek.

Would using allusion be like pulling the emotion from the source into your story? Similar to using brand names in advertising.

I used the book name "The Cross and the Switchblade" in one of my stories and that seemed to draw a lot of attention. More than the story it's self! I don't think that was allusion though. I think it was more like a prop.
http://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article- ... p?id=35113

Thanks!

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Re: Be A Better Writer--ALLUSION

Postby glorybee » Tue Nov 05, 2013 10:19 pm

GracefulWarrior wrote:Here is an attempt at allusion.

Jodi stepped off the scale. Oh no, not another pound. Returning to her desk, she had to pass her co-worker.
Edith held out a tin of cookies. "Jodi, Chocolate Chip cookies -- I baked them last night."
Jodi picked one up. "The doctor said I need to loose weight, but your cookies are so good."
Hearing the conversation, Dorothy joined them grinning. "Surely one cookie would not cause you to gain weight." She bit into an apple chomping away happily.
Jodi put the cookie down. "Thanks, but I am officially on a diet." Walking away, she felt like an overcomer.


Holly, this one is flying right over my head, I think. Where is the allusion, and what is it alluding to? I'm so sorry that I'm missing this one.

GracefulWarrior wrote:An example of allusion in the bible.
In the bible when Jesus said "My God why hast thou forsaken me", my understanding is that references PSA 22. So I think the bible is full of allusion. One bible teacher I listen to always says the bible confirms it's self as he is cross referencing scriptures.


Yes. Jesus was alluding to the Psalms there, and elsewhere. Those would have been known to his listeners, too, and they would have understood his allusions, and all that was implied by his claiming them as applying to himself.

GracefulWarrior wrote:I think my husband and friends use allusion all the time with movie lines just to goof around. Like if someone says something and you want to mess with them you might say "Inconceivable" from the princess bride. Or while driving maybe the car is running poorly and you say " I'm giving her all she's got, Captain!" from Star Trek.


Absolutely! (I do things like that all of the time, too.)

GracefulWarrior wrote:Would using allusion be like pulling the emotion from the source into your story? Similar to using brand names in advertising.


Yes--what a great way to put this!

GracefulWarrior wrote:I used the book name "The Cross and the Switchblade" in one of my stories and that seemed to draw a lot of attention. More than the story it's self! I don't think that was allusion though. I think it was more like a prop.
http://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article- ... p?id=35113


I think you're right--this was more of a prop. But I also think you've "got" the concept of allusion--if you'll just help me out with that first example.
Jan Ackerson

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Re: Be A Better Writer--ALLUSION

Postby GracefulWarrior » Tue Nov 05, 2013 10:27 pm

Hi Jan,

I was trying to allude to Eve in the garden of Eden with her giving in to the temptation involving the fruit commonly know as an apple. But with a more happy ending in my story.

I was afraid that the way I used it might be too obscure.

Thanks,
Holly

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Re: Be A Better Writer--ALLUSION

Postby glorybee » Tue Nov 05, 2013 10:44 pm

GracefulWarrior wrote:Hi Jan,

I was trying to allude to Eve in the garden of Eden with her giving in to the temptation involving the fruit commonly know as an apple. But with a more happy ending in my story.

I was afraid that the way I used it might be too obscure.

Thanks,
Holly


Ah! But in your example, the apple convinced Jodi NOT to "sin." That's why I think I was confused. My fault.
Jan Ackerson

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Re: Be A Better Writer--ALLUSION

Postby lish1936 » Tue Nov 05, 2013 10:46 pm

Thanks, Steve for taking the time to analyze my story. Please tell me if my assessment of your comments (why it didn't "work" for you) is correct.

If I understand your perspective correctly, the story does not relate to the wasting of one's inheritance as in the biblical account.

I wrote this response before I read your subsequent post and Jan's.)

But I will continue.

In my dictionary, there is an alternate Bible definition for prodigal.

Definition: A wastrel son who repented and was welcomed home.

The story was an attempt to demonstrate how Calvin wasted a profitable income/money. (I consider this an allusion to an inheritance). When "he came to himself," Calvin thought of Peabody ( a father figure). He also realized he had made the wrong decision. His subsequent admission, confession, and repentance was very much akin to what the prodigal son did in the biblical version.

I'm not sure if this explanation will change your views, but I wanted you to know what was in my head when I wrote it. Now that Jan has amplified what allusion means, I tend to think parts of the story do pass the test for that definition.

Of course, my story does not come close to the examples of allusion from literary works you've read. Someday I'll write like that. :wink:

Lillian
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Re: Be A Better Writer--ALLUSION

Postby GracefulWarrior » Tue Nov 05, 2013 10:55 pm

glorybee wrote:
GracefulWarrior wrote:Hi Jan,

I was trying to allude to Eve in the garden of Eden with her giving in to the temptation involving the fruit commonly know as an apple. But with a more happy ending in my story.

I was afraid that the way I used it might be too obscure.

Thanks,
Holly


Ah! But in your example, the apple convinced Jodi NOT to "sin." That's why I think I was confused. My fault.



I can see that in order for it to be successful, one would have to match it very closely or make it very visible so it's easily identifiable for the audience. Otherwise it's too easy to miss. Thanks Jan another great lesson!

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Re: Be A Better Writer--ALLUSION

Postby Caleb Cheong » Tue Nov 05, 2013 10:57 pm

Hi Jan!

What about this situation which I have just created.



'Joe resolutely refused to clinch his business deals through underhand methods or succumb to what his colleagues' advice to offer gifts as carrots. He even resisted his boss's strong hint at doing it. He really dared to be a Daniel in his work place,I thought.'


Thinking aloud, the allusion here might be a double-barrel one as it alludes to a hymn Dare To Be A Daniel , and to those who aren't aware of it might think of the allusion to the minor prophet Daniel.


Could you kindly comment on this ?

:thankssign

Caleb

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Re: Be A Better Writer--ALLUSION

Postby glorybee » Tue Nov 05, 2013 11:03 pm

Caleb Cheong wrote:Hi Jan!

What about this situation which I have just created:

'Joe resolutely refused to clinch his business deals through underhand methods or succumb to what his colleagues' advice to offer gifts as carrots. He even resisted his boss's strong hint at doing it. He really dared to be a Daniel in his work place,I thought.'

Thinking aloud, the allusion here might be a double-barrel one as it alludes to a hymn Dare To Be A Daniel , and to those who aren't aware of it might think of the allusion to the minor prophet Daniel.


Caleb--this is a good example of allusion. I've never heard the hymn that you mentioned, but the allusion to Daniel's strong ethics and values when he was a Babylonian captive is very clear.

I'll only emphasize that you really need to know your audience; Daniel's story won't be well-known to a secular audience (unlike some Bible stories that are known to almost everyone: Noah's Ark, David and Goliath, etc). So this allusion may be too obscure in some circles--but if you know that your audience consists of readers who are well-versed in the Old Testament, the allusion should work well with them.
Jan Ackerson

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Re: Be A Better Writer--ALLUSION

Postby Caleb Cheong » Wed Nov 06, 2013 12:26 am

Hi Jan!

Thank you very much indeed. The penny dropped. In passing, I learned the hymn Dare To Be Daniel from a New Zealand missionary when I was young man in Malaysia. Incidentally, I remember him fondly as I am much indebted to him.

:thankssign

Regards

Caleb

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Re: Be A Better Writer--ALLUSION

Postby swfdoc1 » Wed Nov 06, 2013 12:58 am

Lillian,

I think this back-and-forth is a big part of what makes Jan’s lessons so valuable.

My assessment was not based on WASTING one’s INHERITANCE. First, one can be prodigal with money no matter how acquired, so I did not expect your story to involve an inheritance. Also, I think “wasting” is too generic. “Prodigal” deals with foolishly or lavishly or recklessly SPENDING. Nothing in the story involved spending. Rather, Calvin’s problem was that he didn’t have any money to spend. When you say he “wasted a profitable income/money” you are using “wasted” in a different sense—to quit a job and therefore to not have money is very different than having the money and squandering it.

All that just to clarify my perspective.

However, having said that, I agree with you—as I agreed with Jan—that the ACTION in your story clearly alludes to the ACTION in the story of the Prodigal Son. So, yes, clearly, there is an allusion. So, PART of it worked, even for me. And I think it was a nice touch to cast Peabody as a father figure.

When I said “the allusion” didn’t work for me, maybe I should have said “the lines” I pointed out didn’t work. It just didn’t make sense to me for Annabelle to call herself and Calvin prodigals when they had not been prodigal.

Remember, the definition you gave—and I have seen similar ones, if not the same one—is not a definition of “prodigal”; it’s a definition (or explanation) of THE prodigal SON in the biblical story. After all the definition starts with “a wastrel who . . . .” You built your allusion on the part after the “who.” I got hung up on the “wastrel” part. Even though the word “wastrel” is DERIVED from the word “waste,” its MEANING (the one used in the “prodigal” definition) also keys in on SPENDING in a FOOLISH (or self-indulgent) manner.

So, that was my hang-up. Interestingly, although I don’t remember anyone clearly, I have fuzzy memories of encountering people in Sunday School classes or elsewhere who didn’t know what “prodigal” meant and who thought it had something to do with repenting after bad behavior. Ironically, the lines that didn’t work for me would work for them.

Anyway, I just wanted to get Jan’s and your reaction to my reaction, and I appreciate your both responding. It’s clear you put a lot of thought into the allusion.
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: Be A Better Writer--ALLUSION

Postby lish1936 » Wed Nov 06, 2013 8:06 am

Thanks, again, Steve.

Your assessessments are always invaluable and intellectually challenging. I may not always agree on everything, but they do make me think. For this one, I'll settle for having gotten it partly right. :)

Lillian
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Re: Be A Better Writer--ALLUSION

Postby amilli » Thu Nov 07, 2013 10:37 pm

My allusion assignment:

(1) She eyed the well dressed man from head to toe; turning to her friend she whispered, "He'll do, but he's no Denzel Washington."

(2) The cold night air assaulted his shirtless body, yet, he stood there alone with job's patience.

Hope these are correct.

I have seen allusion in action several times, and have even use them while speaking....but this lesson helped me realize that I don't actually use them much in my writings. This is about to change. Thanks.
Amelia

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Re: Be A Better Writer--ALLUSION

Postby glorybee » Thu Nov 07, 2013 11:12 pm

amilli wrote:My allusion assignment:

(1) She eyed the well dressed man from head to toe; turning to her friend she whispered, "He'll do, but he's no Denzel Washington."

(2) The cold night air assaulted his shirtless body, yet, he stood there alone with job's patience.



Amilli, thanks for adding your contribution to this thread.

I think your second allusion works quite well (although you want to be sure to capitalize "Job," lest someone think of it as the word "job" (like "career").

I know I said that an allusion can be to a person, but it's a little bit more abstract than just comparing their looks to someone else's looks, as you did in your first example. It's more like if you said about your friend, "George is no Einstein." This would create a train of thought in your listener that would go something like this: George isn't an Einstein...Einstein was very smart...she's telling me that George isn't very smart. But in your Denzel Washington example, you made the conclusion for the reader, by describing the man as well-dressed.

It'd be a better allusion if it were something like this:

She eyed the man, then turned to her friend and whispered, "He's no Denzel Washington."

There, you make the reader draw the conclusions. He's no Denzel Washington...Denzel Washington is very attractive...he's not even close.
Jan Ackerson

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