Crafting:

This week we looked at the crafting and syntax of our writing. Our main task of this week was to find a piece of our written work that we wish to improve in stages. I chose to draft and improve my setting description piece of writing.

My 1st draft of my setting description was:

New York. The Capital of the World. Walking through Times Square is simultaneously the most terrifying and aesthetically pleasing thing a person can do. The cabs, the people, the sounds, smells and sight, it’s all overwhelming. The car horn blares alone seem ten times louder here than anywhere else in the country. The sweet yet revolting smells as people walk, drinking coffee; the bland smell of coffee beans battling your nostrils.

The indistinctive chatter is difficult to tune but once the background noise is gone, the arguments, the shouting and the phone conversations are some of the perfect starting points to your day, especially as you weave in and out of the rush-hour crowds – all those people on their way to work. The idolized business owners. Or the despised tourist as they sight-see at 8am.

I like this original piece because the words written were written as they flowed through my head. I wrote down exactly what I wanted to, even though I knew it wouldn’t be my best work, I knew I could improve it at a later date. Going from this, my second draft of this description was:

New York. The busiest city in America. Walking through Times Square is simultaneously the most terrifying and aesthetically pleasing thing a person can do. The cabs, the people, the sounds, smells and the sights, it’s all overwhelming. The car horn blares alone seem ten times louder here than anywhere else in the country. The sweet yet revolting smells as people walk, drinking coffee; the bland smell of coffee beans battling your nostrils.

The indistinctive chatter is difficult to tune but once the background noise is gone, the arguments, the shouting and the phone conversations are some of the perfect starting points to your day, especially as you weave in and out of the rush-hour crowds – all those people on their way to work. The idolized business owners. Or the despised tourist as they sight-see at 8am.

The broad sidewalks are chocked full of people, hardly leaving a slither of concrete in sight, yet something about this chaotic city that makes your eyes water whilst you try to take in everything around you. Everything is everywhere, there’s always something to read, watch or interact with whenever you turn your head. Despite the sometimes rude pedestrians, Times Square is beyond a magical place, and the city lifestyle is pushed to the limit in this vastly diverse urban area.

Personally, I really liked the additions I made to the first draft to give me this piece. I felt as though I had fine-tuned my work with this piece, as I had not only extended my writing but I changed phrases such as “The Capital of the World.” and I thought that even though it could use a little more work, this version was written at a standard that I was pleased with, especially considering that I was describing a place that I had never visited before.

My final written setting description is:

New York. The busiest city in America. Walking through Times Square is simultaneously the most terrifying and aesthetically pleasing thing a person can do. The cabs, the people, the sounds, smells and the sights, it’s all overwhelming. The car horn blares alone seem ten times louder here than anywhere else in the country. The sweet yet revolting smells as people walk, drinking caffeine; the bland smell of coffee beans battling your nostrils.

The indistinctive chatter is difficult to tune but once the background noise is gone, the arguments, the shouting and the phone conversations are some of the perfect starting points of your day. You weave in and out of all those people on their way to work. The idolized business owners. Or the despised tourists as they sight-see in the early hours of the morning.

The broad sidewalks are loaded full of people, hardly leaving a slither of concrete in sight, yet there’s something about this chaotic city that makes your eyes water whilst you try to digest everything around you. Everything is everywhere, there’s always something to read, watch, talk to or interact with no matter where you turn your head. Despite the sometimes rude pedestrians, New York City is beyond a magical place, and the city lifestyle is pushed to the limit in the diverse urban area.

The rush-hour crowds are enough to leave you feeling mildly anxious and the lack of visible concrete is dizzying to those who aren’t used to the hustle and bustle of city life. Blank spaces are swallowed up by the digital screens and billboards all around, giving you no time to take it in as you walk along the streets. The thoughts that go through your head as you traipse through the city are conflicting as you tell yourself I don’t want to be here, this is too much but I love this city, I never want to go home, and the emotions running through you as you walk through the streets of the capital of the world.

I am very proud of my final version of my setting description because I know that I put my all into writing and improving this piece. This version is the piece that I focused more on word choice, and I realised that the style of my writing throughout the piece is extremely descriptive, which is generally unusual for me I think, yet I found that the end result showed my potential when it comes to adjectives and describing. I think that my word choice in this writing helped to develop the image in a reader’s head, because even though I have never been to New York City, I still found a way to describe the location in a way that someone who has not visited can imagine what it would be like if they were to, and I think that is my favourite thing about this piece.


Show and Don’t Tell:

To practice this skill we changed a ‘telling’ narration into a ‘showing’ one. The passage was:

She answered the phone and gave her name. She said she did not take cold calls and that she regarded them as an invasion of privacy. She added that she was especially not interested in double-glazing.

My own version of this piece is:

The shrill ring of the phone came to an abrupt halt. “Leah” she stated. her eyes glazed over and she yawned as she listened to the person on the other end drone on, but she didn’t catch anything but the words “double-glazing” in a tone that seemed like a question. “I am not interested in your doors or windows, stop invading my privacy” she grumbled out. “I do not take cold calls , so do not call me again.” she calmly added before hanging up and sighing loudly in the middle of the empty apartment.

I liked this exercise because it gave me the opportunity to test my skills on whether or not my writing is written in a ‘showing’ way. We learned that it is better to show a reader something and to paint a picture in their head as they read your writing than it is to tell them because it does not leave the reader much space to imagine.

A professional example of a telling piece of writing being made into a showing piece is:

They went to New York to see Cats. They both enjoyed it very much. When they tried to go home, their flight was delayed because of the snow so they stayed another night and decided to see the musical again.

This piece was then made into a piece of writing that showed rather than told, and that was:

Tanya and James flew to New York in a 747. Tanya drank club sod and James had ginger ale. “Can I have the whole can?” he said. When they in LaGuardia, James turned to her and said, “Just so you know, that was the first time I’ve ever flown anywhere.”

“What?” said Tanya. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I didn’t want you to know I hadn’t left Oklahoma.”

She took his hand and kissed it and held it to her cheek.

“I’ll still love you, even if you are an Okie hillbilly.”

They both smiled and he kissed her.

This example shows that there was much more to the trip that the characters took than was let on in the first piece of writing, and even though the second version is not strictly talking of the same subject as the first, it still gives us more information and more room to imagine and develop.


Word Choice:

this week to practice the skill of word choice we were giving a simple sentence, and we had to continue it a little. The sentence we were given to go from was:

A guy walks into a bar and orders a drink.

From this sentence I changed the idea slightly and then continued it and wrote:

A matronly woman wandered into a pub and ordered a glass of red wine. She strolled over to a free table to patiently wait for the deceiving man that was her husband.

After rereading my version of the sentence, I went back and changed a couple of words and rewrote it as:

A matronly woman wandered into a local pub and ordered a tall glass of red wine. She moved herself to a vacant table and began her patient wait for the deceiving man that was her husband.

I liked this version because although I had changed the sentence slightly, the theme and idea of it stayed loyal and it worked. My version gave more information to the sentence, and gave it more depth.

A professional example of word choice is the following character description from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone:

“a rather severe-looking woman who was wearing square glasses exactly the shape of the markings the cat had had around its eyes. She, too, was wearing a cloak, an emerald one. Her black hair was drawn into a tight bun.”

This description is short yet manages to paint a picture in the reader’s head of how the character looks and what their characteristics are and what their appearance is like, making it very effective in what it aims to do.


Syntax and Metaphor:

To practice syntax and metaphors in class we created some six word memoirs. A six word memoir is a six word long story about a period in the writer’s life. Some professional examples of six word memoirs are:

Looking ahead. Looking back. No middle.– Gabe Oppenheim

rarely lives up to her name. – Grace Ambrose

Not much has changed since then. – Santiago Cortes

Six word memoirs are personal to the person who writes them, therefore we were tasked to create a few of our own six word memoirs, mine were:

Bright city lights. Dull city dreams.

Adventure awaits. Take a little risk.

The Moon. The Stars. The Black-Hole.

These six word memoirs made me proud because I felt as though when I read them they portrayed the ideas and thoughts that I wanted them to and I thoroughly enjoyed this task.


Overall I enjoyed this week’s work because it gave me the opportunity to push myself to go back over my word and fix things up and improve my writing. I think that this week has helped me to understand syntax more, and that it has shown me, again, the importance of word choice and how the change of one small word can affect the entire tone or flow of my writing.


References:

  1. Bunting, J. (2016). The Secret to Show, Don’t Tell – The Write Practice. [online] The Write Practice. Available at: http://thewritepractice.com/show-dont-tell/ (Accessed 9 Nov. 2016).
  2. Happychild.org.uk. (2016). Harry Potter Characters – Professor McGonagall. [online] Available at: http://www.happychild.org.uk/harrypottermagic/characters/mcgonagallp00.htm (Accessed 9 Nov. 2016).
  3. Oppenheim, G., Ambrose, G. and Cortes, S. (2016). Six Word Memoirs. [online] Writing.upenn.edu. Available at: http://writing.upenn.edu/wh/archival/documents/sixwords/ (Accessed 9 Nov. 2016).
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