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Writing Buzzwords

Page history last edited by Don Pogreba 10 years, 11 months ago

Flow is basically how the piece reads from start to finish. It includes sentence rhythms as well as idea progression–whether you go from idea to idea smoothly (or even sentence to sentence); without feeling like you came in at the middle of the movie, or that you're missing the key piece to the puzzle.


Form or Shape. In simplest terms, is it an essay, poem, or short story? Obviously, the question can get more technical–there are “sub-shapes” within each category of shape/form–but for the purposes of this class, just consider how the piece was actually written.


Foreshadowing hints of something that will happen later in the story.


Function asks “What’s the purpose of the writing?” You'll want to consider your audience when you consider your purpose, or you may have a mismatch. For instance, if your purpose is to share cheap and easy ways to redecorate your home, you may not find it very productive to target the population of the Leon County Detention Facility as your audience. 


Imagery and Show, Don't Tell are closely related. “Show, don't tell” is an expression often used in writing classrooms. Bluntly, it means to use imagery, voice, or some of the other techniques to help the reader see the image.

For both imagery and show, rather than simply saying “the car is burning,” try helping the reader feel the heat twenty feet away from the blaze, smell the gasoline and burning rubber, hear the roar of the fire itself and the sound of metal warping and glass popping, see the shift in the flames and the shimmer of heat. If you're trying to “show” a character, try using the character's speech patterns, habits, dress, and movement to create the image. Even something so simple as a favorite hat or preferred cologne may be the key.


A Narrative is simply a story. It can be told in first, second, or third person, singular or plural. It can be told in a poem, a song, or the usual paragraph type format. It can be told by a person, an animal, a doll, even a rock–if you can get a rock to tell an interesting story.


Reader Response is literally the reader's reaction to a piece of writing. What did you like, dislike, what did you want more/less of, what worked or did not work for you? 


Rhythm. Where “flow” refers to the overall essay, “rhythm” usually refers to the piece on a sentence level. “Flow” discusses the critter as a whole; “rhythm” gets down to the molecular level.

Short words and sentences will give you a faster, often more abrupt, rhythm. Mixing in longer words, combined phrases, longer sentences, and pauses within sentences (with a comma, semi-colon, or em-dash) will give you a slower, often more “flowing” rhythm. Remember, you can alternate sentence rhythms and change the rhythm of your paragraph. Try using one short, one long, two short, one long, etc.


Style is the author's way of writing. It can incorporate the author's voice, use of imagery, details, or special effects, and preferences for sentence rhythm, word choice, and construction or progression of the piece of writing.

Remember, you're not limited to or locked into a specific style. You can experiment with different styles. You may find that one style fits a particular piece of writing better than another, and you may find that you're more comfortable with a certain style. 


Symbolism is using one thing to represent another. In hokey terms, a heart-shaped box may symbolize love, a chalkboard may symbolize your life, a statue may symbolize an ethnic stereotype, a shadowed forest may symbolize confusion or danger.


Tone is the emotion of the piece–how it feels. For example, letters to the editor of the local paper are often hostile, angry, or impatient.  You can create “tone” by choosing words that carry the emotion you're aiming for, by fitting your sentence rhythm to the emotion (e.g., anger or frustration may need shorter, choppier sentences and phrases), and matching your imagery and details to the emotion. For example, if you're aiming for that “hate the world” feeling, you probably won't want to include a toddler in pink ruffles happily licking an all-day sucker on a clear summer morning–unless, of course, your next image is of the gang on Harleys as they roar past in a cloud of dust and snatch the lollipop from the child's sticky little fingers. 


Voice is the way in which a character speaks or thinks. If we're talking about non-fiction, then we may be referring to the author's voice, which is simply how the author speaks or thinks. On the other hand, if we're writing a story (fiction or non-fiction), each character should have a distinctive personality, which is reflected in speech patterns, vocabulary, dress, mannerisms; remember the five year old boy and the valley girl from class?




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