Thursday, October 02, 2008


Writing Lively Copy

by LuAnn Schindler

Want to turn a bland piece of prose into a piece that's filled with life? Substituting similes and metaphors for adjectives, replacing generic nouns with specifics, and varying sentence length will result in lively writing. Try this exercise to spice up your words.

Write a long paragraph about eating a favorite piece of fruit, using all five senses. Make sure you write a simile and a metaphor in the paragraph. Just for review, a simile compares two objects and uses 'like' or 'as' to make the comparison. Example: "The blackberries in the bowl were lumpy, like dirt clods on a dusty road." Metaphors directly compare one item to another. Example: "The clumps were soft and squishy, melting into sweetness in my mouth."

After you've finished writing the paragraph, review what you've written. Replace generic nouns with a specific noun. Instead of writing 'a conglomeration of berries', be specific. Red raspberries, blueberries, and gooseberries. When you use a specific noun, it is easier for the reader to visualize what you mean. The generic word or phrase leaves a lot to the reader's imagination, which can sometimes lead them in a different direction.

Review your work once again and consider sentence structure. Are all sentences one length? Do you always start with a phrase? Adjust and vary the length of your sentences, because variety helps keep the reader engaged.

Not only is this exercise good for developing lively copy, but it is also an effective revision tool.

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Monday, November 19, 2007


Writing is Like Mud Wrestling?

Recently, I came across a box of lesson plans, syllabi, handouts, and miscellaneous student assignments that I had saved long ago. I'll share some of them here today, but I have to keep them anonymous. As a side note, most of these students were the traditional freshmen--younger than twenty years old.

In this assignment, I'd asked my students to work in groups to describe writing using similes. I found it interesting as I looked back through these examples. These are not only young writers, but many of them had zero interest in writing, period:

"Writing is like pulling teeth; it hurts your head."

"Writing is like a river that flows words. Like thoughts they widen and narrow, get full, and get empty. Sometimes, words are just like river water, clear or murky, and shallow or deep. Obstacles are also encountered, but can easily be overcome, and more calm waters can be found. Like the river, writing has to come to an end."

"Freewriting is like turning on a faucet."

"Writing is like sports--in order to succeed, you need all the practice you can get."

"Writing is like learning a musical instrument; it takes time and practice and patience, lots of patience."

"Everything starts with a thought. Whether you're painting a picture or writing a story, an image always comes to mind. The pen is your paintbrush and the paper is your canvas. With that creation begins."

"Writing is like the growth of a tree: the topic is the seed, the writing process is the maturing of the seed. As the writing process continues, ideas flourish into branches and the tree grows. It's a continuous process that takes a lifetime."

"Writing is like mud wrestling. The intimidation of the mud, the fear of your beastly opponent. Just grab on and never let go. Slip and slide. Go in for the kill. Lose control and don't worry about losing your top! Hold your ground and don't worry about finesse."

The last one above sounds like a perfect advertisement for NaNo! What do you think NaNo wrestlers?

Keep going NaNo writers! You can do it! Don't give up! ;-)

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