The Revision Process Similes and Metaphors, “The Case for Short Words,” and Cumulative and Periodic Sentences
The Revision Process • When you revise, you need to ask yourself… • Does the order in which I told events serve my purpose? Does every paragraph/event need to be included? • Do I have the right amount of focus on the most important events? • Does the essay have the dominant impression/tone I wish for it to have? • Are all people an events described clearly and vividly? • Is this essay unique to me? Is it an accurate reflection of my experiences?
The Revision Process • Don’t be afraid to make major changes. • Think of the pieces of your narrative as building blocks. You can move them around, try them in different orders until you find the one that works. • Don’t be afraid to cut. Sometimes, we have to write for a while to find the good stuff, but that means that we need to get rid of the not-so-good stuff that came first. • Don’t be afraid to add new material to your essay. If your group pointed out that you didn’t have enough description of an event or a person, or that you didn’t explain your feelings about the event enough, you might find yourself writing new sentences, and perhaps even new paragraphs.
"Big Changes" vs. "Little changes" • Depending on where you are in the writing process, you will need to make one of these two kinds of changes. • “Big changes” have to do with structure, order, and issues that affect your entire essay. • "Little Changes" have to do with mechanics, word choice, and individual sentences. • Make sure you have all of the “big changes” made before you start making “little changes.”
Two Pieces of Advice if You Need “Big Changes” • Ask yourself: “How are events connected? What is the theme that ties them together?” Discovering this can make your essay more unified and coherent. • Remember that these are narratives. The story starts out with you in one place and ends up with you in another. Ask yourself, “How did I change because of these events? How can I make that change obvious to my readers?” • You might even want to try filling in the blanks in this sentence: At the beginning of my essay I ___________, but by the end, I _____________________.
Achieving Effective Focus • When you write a narrative, you should focus most on the events that matter most to the story. • You are like a movie director. You get to choose what you zoom over quickly with the camera and what you stop and focus on, lingering on every detail. • Which events, places, and people take up the most space in the narrative? Are those the events/places/people that are most important? • If you find that your focus is in the wrong place, cut back on the paragraphs about events that are less significant to the narrative, and add detail and reflection to events that are significant.
Making a Revision Plan • Now that you have gone through peer review and begun to revise your essay, I want you to come up with at least three specific goals for revision. • Example 1: When I revise, I will expand the section where I talk about reading my poem to the class. I need to reflect more about how I was feeling in that moment, and I need to add more details to my description of the classroom. • Example 2: When I revise, I’m going to completely rewrite my introduction to give my reader more context. I’m going to move my current introduction to the end of the essay and add a quote from the “Only Daughter” reading because I could relate to how she talked about needing her father’s approval of her writing.
Literal vs. Figurative Writing • Literal writing consists of: • Facts, observable truth • “Real” events • Ex: My room was very messy. There were papers on the floor, dirty dishes on the desk, and clothes piled on the bed. • Figurative writing uses: • Comparisons that are not literally true, but appeal to the imagination. • Ex: My room was so messy that it looked like a hoard of crazed orangutans had romped through it. • Each type of writing has its uses. Literal writing is rational and reasonable, and figurative writing engages the imagination.
Simile and Metaphor • One of the “figurative” tool sthat we have in our "author's toolbox" to enhance your description is the use of simile and metaphor. These are two tricks that authors use to compare two things to each other that are not necessarily alike. For instance, let's take two dissimilar things: The ocean and a piece of glass. • So, I might write, "The ocean was as smoothas glass.” • I have just written a SIMILE. A simile compares two things by using like or as. • NOTICE: the words we use for our comparison bring a whole load of meaning with them. HOW is the ocean like glass?
Simile and Metaphor • But what if I don’t like “like” or “as”? I might just write this: “The ocean was a piece of glass, so clear we could see every detail of the sea floor.” • This is a metaphor. A metaphor states that two unlike things are the same without using like or as. • Do my readers know that the ocean and a piece of glass are, in reality, quite different? Yes. This simply helps the reader to get the IMAGE of how smooth the ocean was more clearly.
A Metaphor with Two Parts • Metaphors don’t just have to be making one comparison. For instance: • "The clouds were a veil drawn across the face of the sun." • The two metaphors here are cloud=veil and face=sun. • Also, this is a lot more interesting than "It got cloudy." Why?
How do Similes and Metaphors Work? • First, even though the two things being compared are dissimilar, there is SOME point of comparison that the author is trying to draw our attention to. For instance, in the sea/glass situation, the point of comparison is clarity. In the cloud/veil metaphor, the point of comparison is one object being hidden behind another object. • Second, they reveal the author's attitude about the subject. If an author says, "Being in love is a walk through a beautiful garden," you know that the author has a positive attitude toward love. If the author says, "Being in love is like a walk through a dark, treacherous forest," then the attitude is a little different.
Finish these sentences in as many ways as you can… • Love is like… • A good friend is like… • Writing is like… • No song lyrics/cliches, please! I’m interested in how you would finish it, not how people before you have finished it.
Simile/Metaphor Activity • Write three similes and three metaphors (for a total of six figurative sentences) about anything you choose. If you are stuck, I have three suggestions: • A car • A mountain • A diamond • What could you compare the things you choose to? What are they like? • Keep in mind that you are comparing two THINGS. "A speeding car is fast," is not a metaphor. "Fast" is simply an adjective describing the car. The car is not being COMPARED to anything, and this is in fact a literal statement instead of a figurative one.
With your Draft… • Take out your working draft of your essay and highlight places that could use some description, similes, and metaphors. (You should come up with a lot of highlighting. If you think you're done, I'd be happy to make some suggestions for you.)Write some similes or metaphors that are appropriate. If you don't have your working draft with you, write some that would work with what you are planning to do/ have at home. DON'T waste this time.
“Case for Short Words” • Lots of people have the idea that using “big words” automatically makes writing better than writing that uses small words. Why do you think we have this idea? Do you agree with the author of the essay we read for today that “short words” can still express powerful ideas? • What difference do you notice between the opening paragraphs and the ones where he uses longer words? • Why do you think that he uses the variety of examples of “short words” that he does? Which do you think were the best/most interesting examples?
“Short Words” Practice • Write as much as you can for 20 minutes using only 1-syllable words. • Possible topics: (you are not limited to these) • A favorite place • An emotional experience • A close friend • Advice: • Look for synonyms. • If you can't use the longer word you need, use two (or more) short words that, when put together, describe the longer word. • Example: Tiger = “big cat with stripes”
“Short Words” Reflection • Talk about how that went. Was it hard? Easy? Did it push you to find new ways to say things? • If you have written poetry before, you may have noticed a similarity between this exercise and writing a poem. Why do you think that is? • Exercises like this can really push you as a writer and help you to see what the language is capable of. Also, it should help you to cut down on unnecessary long words.
How does this relate to our essays? • Sometimes, you will need to use long words because those long words are exactly the ones you need to use. However, as a writer, you might sometimes choose to use short words, when you can, to communicate more clearly or more powerfully. • Try rewriting sentences using shorter words. Are some of your rewritten sentences more powerful? More clear? Or do some of those sentences with long words need those long words? • Writing in an academic style doesn’t necessarily mean long words and complicated sentences. It does mean using exactly the word you mean and explaining yourself completely and thoughtfully.
Brainstorming for Practice With Different Sentence Types: • We are going to come up with a rhetorical situation in which you might be writing a review for a restaurant (or, if you never eat out, some other place of business that might be reviewed). • What is the restaurant’s name? • What will your attitude toward the restaurant be? • What will your tone and stance be? (Will you be earnest? Serious? Sarcastic? Silly?) • Who are the potential readers you imagine for your review? • What specific place do you imagine readers might read your review?
Sentence Types: Cumulative Sentences • As we work on our in-class restaurant reviews, we are going to be using some very specific different types of sentences. • Cumulative Sentences (p. 558-559 in EaAPacket) start with a main point and the accumulate detail afterwards in the form of phrases and subordinate clauses. • The most important idea comes first, followed by an explanation/expansion of that idea.
Example Cumulative Sentence for Our Restaurant Review: • Famous Dave’s is a vegan’s worst nightmare; (the smell of cooking pork and ribs drifts in from the kitchen,) (the cornbread is slathered in real butter,) (there’s a seasonally decorated elk’s head above the stone fireplace,) and (cartoons of cheerful piggy angels dance on the walls). • Here, the first part (in red) is the main point, and the rest of the sentence (in blue) builds detail. • See p. 558-559 for more examples.
Practice: Cumulative Sentences • Write a sentence for YOUR in class restaurant review that is appropriate to YOUR tone and stance that is CUMULATIVE. (See p. 558 for examples.) • Start with the main point. • Continue the sentences with phrases/clauses that elaborate in more detail on that point. • This style works REALLY well for descriptions of places.
Sentence Types: Periodic Sentences • Periodic Sentences begin with a series of clauses or phrases and end with the main point of the sentence. (p. 559-560 EaA) • Create suspense/mystery • Build momentum so the reader is with you by the time you get to the main point • Creates reader interest • Use them carefully, though. Overuse can put readers off.
Example Periodic Sentence • (Fingers covered in grease,) (stomach filled to nearly bursting,) (tongue still burning from the heat of the aptly named “Devil’s Spit” barbeque sauce,)I reach the end of a deeply satisfying meal. • Notice that the red part, the main idea, comes at the end. The blue phrases in parentheses lead up to it. The main idea is the “finale” of the sentence. • See p. 559-561 for more examples
Practice: Periodic Sentences • Write a sentence for your in-class restaurant review that builds up to the main point. • Begin with a several smaller, less important details. • Build suspense until you end with your main point. • See p 559-560 of EaA
Write Your Review • Use your cumulative and periodic sentences that you wrote somewhere in a full review of the restaurant (it needs to be longer than just your two sentences you already wrote). • Experiment with using these types of sentences elsewhere in your review, if you would like.