Showing posts from December, 2015

Literacy Speaks Volumes: How Do Writers Communicate?

Literacy Speaks Volumes: How Do Writers Communicate?: Powerful communicators know that planning is the key to good writing. Planning helps writers develop their ideas and then communicate t...

This is a post from a year ago, and the message is still valid now on the eve of a new year.

This is a photo of me and my now twenty year old taken many years ago on New Year's Eve.  
As a writer, I prefer to communicate in writing. While I have good speaking skills, I'm not a quick thinker. My husband can come up with some zingers in the blink of an eye, but I have to think on something before I can come up with something clever to say. Even then, cleverness usually eludes me.

I took this photo many years ago in the spring for a garden photo contest. I did not win.
Writing is my hobby as well as a way to make some extra income. When I am not writing, I am thinking about writing.
I'm fortunate that my day job is teaching writing to middle schoolers. Communicating in writing is the nu…

Good Evening from South Carolina

The United States is so vast. There are so many places to see and experience.

Tonight, I am in Beaufort, South Carolina. This is the place where the Articles of the Confederecy were signed. This is also the home of Pat Conroy. Conroy is one of my favorite authors. I always loved The Water is Wide. As a teacher, it really spoke to me. 
We enjoyed dinner at a place called Bricks. I do not know how to describe it... Bar food, greasy. Loud. 
The trip was long as traffic was backed up from Atlanta to Macon. I have no idea what the hold up was.
The weather is too perfect. It is eighty degrees in December. I really look forward to tomorrow. 
I want to enjoy my coffee in the warm weather.

I Remember

Sometimes, we just need a jumpstart on our writing. All writers use some sort of prompt or story starter at some point in their writing career. 
One of my personal favorites is I remember...
We all have stories. We just don't always know how to get those stories started. 
Give this one a try to see if it works for you.

Writing Creatively Installment 1

Imagining Other Worlds
You probably like to go to the movies. Most people do. It's a chance to escape, just for a little while, to other worlds. Movies allow our imaginations to run wild. Anything can happen. And, best of all, things usually come out okay in the end.
Writers use their imagination to write movie scripts, novels, stories, plays, poems, and even comic strips. They tickle our own imagination by creating, and having us believe in, people and places that never were and never will be. They make us burst with excitement, fear, unreal expectations, and fun. Have you ever used your imagination to make up a story for a little child?

Read the following myth to see how writers use their imagination to explain the world around them. This type of myth is called a creation story.
Once upon a time, there were five wolf brothers who always traveled together to find meat. They would always share their meat with Coyote. One evening, Coyote saw the wolf brothers looking up at the sky, …

Evaluating and Revising Descriptive Writing

If your details do not help your readers see the subject, then you need to add sensory details and figures of speech. If your picture is not clear, then you need to cut words that are general or fuzzy. Add exact ones. If your details do not create a feeling about your subject, then create voice and pizzazz to your writing. If your details are not organized, reorder the details so that they make sense to your reader.
Sounds simple doesn't it?

Well, we all know that revision is not that easy. To revise a piece means that you have to revisit it and make a conscious effort to change it. That is difficult. 
It is always a good idea to get another person's opinion of your piece. Be prepared to let folks read what you have written and give you corrective feedback.
Proofreading is not revision. Proofreading is when you catch and correct errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics.
If you use a spell-checker program, remember that it won't help or catch errors with homonyms.
When your …

Blank Page Panic a.k.a. Writer's Block

Writer's Block, that horrible affliction for which there is no cure.

Writer's block is when a writer experiences a creative slowdown. It can be just a short bout of writing hum drums or extended writing woes.
 Doctors researched this psychological syndrome in the 1970s and 80s. It was documented as a real psychological condition during this time. The doctors determined that there are several causes for this condition. Sometimes, a writer runs out of creative inspiration. The writer may be distracted by other events. Sometimes a writer becomes ill or depressed. Sometimes there are personal reasons for a lack of creative output. The pressure to produce work can also contribute to writer's block. A writer may feel pressure because of a deadline or writing in a different style or genre. A writer might feel intimidated by his previous success.

Writer's block is more than a mentality. When the human brain is under stress, it will move control from the cerebral cortex to the …

Writing the First Draft of a Description

An artist paints a picture with brushes and paint. These are the artist's tools. When you write a description, you are painting a picture, too. Your tools are words.

The basic elements of description:

Sensory details come from using your senses--sight, touch, hearing, smell, and taste. In this paragraph, many sensory detils help create a strong picture of hard work

It was hot work, dusty work. Chemicals used for spraying the vines smelled bad and choked him. Spider webs got in his face. Broken vines scratched his arms. Grapes stained his hands. Sweat poured into his eyes, in spite of the hankerchief wrapped around his forehead.
~Mighty Hard Road Exact words make your description sharp. For example, an exact word for the color of your favorite sweater might be turquoise or navy, not blue. A duck doesn't walk, it waddles. In the following paragraph, a young boy finds a fawn, or young deer, that he has been looking for. As you read, notice how the writer uses exact words such as s…


Unto this day a child is born.

Clear glass ornaments with mottled glass filter Christmas Day 2015

Christmas morning breakfast Ham and Eggs with potatoes 2015

Christmas Collage 2015

A Writing Activity

Write a description a the house pictured below to create a feeling of mystery and suspense. Make a list of the details from the picture that would help create that feeling. Think how to arrange the details. Which would be better--spatial order or order of importance? Arrange your details in the order you have chosen. Next, work with two classmates to compare details and the order you used. Try to decide which details and which order work the best.

Selecting and Organizing Details

Sometimes, when you are going out, you choose everything you wear just to create a certain effect. You decide between a T-shirt and shirt with buttons, or between a flashy belt and a plain one. You do the same kind of thing when you try to create a particular feeling or mood in a description. You use some details and leave out others. For example, if you want to show that the park was gloomy and depressing, you probably won't include details about the beautiful rose garden.
After you have chosen your details, you need to think about how to put them together. Here are two of the many ways you can arrange descriptive details:
Spatial Order: Arrange details by location--good for describing places and objects. From top to bottom or bottom to top From near to far or far to near From left to right or right to left
Order of Importance: Arrange details by the importance you want to give them--good for describing people and animals. From least to most important From most to least important

Writing a Description

Planning a Description A good description doesn't just come out of thin air; it's the result of thinking and planning.
Thinking about Subject, Purpose, and Audience A Subject: You usually don't have to look around for a subject to describe. The subject is already there. For example, you need to describe a new jacket you want for your birthday. Or you need to describe your state capitol building in your history report. If you do have to think of a subject to write aobut, it helps to choose something you know well. you might think of an object in your own home or a place you know very well. If you don't know the subject well, you may have to use your imagination.

A Purpose: Your purpose for writing can take you in two different directions. The first direction is to describe something exactly as it is. For example, if you've lost your pet dog, Flash, you need to describe his exact color, size, and marking. Otherwise you might get the wrong dog back. 
The second direction…

Exploring Text Types

Since the earliest days, people have been seeking answers to life's big questions~ What does it mean to belong?Why does the past matter?Are people basically good?What's really important? Believe it or not, most of the answers to these questions are found in literature. Exploring different types of literature helps you think about these questions and their answers. Words are a writer's paintbrush. With words, a writer can create a picture so funny, so sad, or so frightening, that you feel like crying or laughing or shuddering in fear. A writer draws you in with his ideas and topics. Family relations, friendly competition, impossible decisions are all ways that authors help us to find the answers to the big questions.
A science fiction writer describes how the sun looks when it becomes a nova. A newspaper reporter describes the terrible damage left by a killer hurricane. With their vivid words, writers make you feel as though you were there--hearing, seeing, feeling, smellin…

Understanding Fragments and Phrases

Groups of words that go together are not necessarily sentences.

Objectives of this lesson: Distinguish a fragment from a sentence when one of the following elements is missing (a) subject (b) verb (c) complete thought.

The fragment is a major problem for students. The thought may be clear in your head, but what gets put on paper is another thing.

What is a complete sentence? A complete sentence has a subject and a verb and expresses a complete thought.

Remember that when you write in complete sentences, the results may differ from the way you would express the same ideas in everyday conversation with a friend.
Although you will occasionally spot incomplete sentences in professional writing, you may be sure the writer is using these fragments intentionally. In such cases, the fragment may be appropriate because it captures the way a person thinks or speaks or because it creates a special effect. A student developing his or her writing skills would be careful to use only standard-sentenc…

25 Writing Prompts for January

Make a new commitment to writing. What can you do to become a better writer?What is wrong with telling people what their New Year's resolutions should be? Write a description of your reaction to someone telling you what your resolution should be.Use imagery to write a story about winter.Write paragraphs comparing and contrasting a computer and a pen. Include at least four examples of how they are alike and four examples of how they are different.Use vivid and strong words to describe what the world will be like in one thousand years. Use colorful adjectives to make this world easy to imagine.
You are a modern-day explorer. Where will you go? How will you travel? What will you take with you? Write about your first day of exploration.Your class decided to have a pet show. Every one of the students brought a pet. Write about what happened during the pet show.Write about three things that you would change about yourself.Write a short play about a person who is wasteful and creates loa…