Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Poetry and SLAM

We'll be practicing some poetry writing after March Break and looking at some sample poems. If you have any favourites, please feel free to share with me. Here are the handouts. I'm posting this early for people who may miss a few days before or after the break. If you know me, then you know that these documents could change a little.; but, for the most part, this is what we will be doing:





Sunday, February 19, 2012


The next major activity is to write a short story. It is due on the Friday before March Break (Fri. March 9). The activity is explained in the Google Presentation and the rubric below:

The Craft of Story Writing/Telling  

Short Story Rubric

Short Story Plot Graph

First I will collect a SHORT STORY PLOT GRAPH completed by you in point form on a graph showing me your plan. (Due: Fri. March 2nd or before)

SUSPENSE is the most important element I want you to experiment with.

Friday, February 17, 2012


Hi Everybody,

The journal for today is listed in the Journal Post. I also put Tuesday's journal. Normally, I won't post them ahead of time but I thought it might get you started on thinking about a story that will be due Friday, March 9, 2012. That story starter, Ït was a dark and stormy night"is a cliche. A CLICHE is an overused piece of language. Usually, it is good to avoid them because they get tired in their over usage. Other examples: 'kick the bucket", "You can see the writing on the wall", "let sleeping dogs lie" "teach an old dog new tricks", "you made your bed, now lie in it". 
Link to Cliche info.

IDIOMS are similar. They are just popular sayings that are usually metaphors (like cliche). The only differnece is, as writers, you don't want to use ready-made sayings all the time. Come up with your own unique use of language. Don't rely on idioms and cliches too much.

Link to Idiom info.

By the way, "It was a dark and stormy night" was an infamous phrase by Edward Bulwer-Lytton around 1830. It has since become renowned as a cliche and an example of 'wretched writing"

Since 1982 the English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels. (great idea here for a journal entry)


This weekend start thinking about a plan for a short story. I will be collecting your PLOT GRAPH CHART for your short story in a week or so.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Descriptions- Some things to keep in mind

1. Adjectives and adverbs
2. Past tense Present tense- be consistent in the description
3. Passive voice =I had given-- active voice-= I gave
Link to verb tenses (Purdue)
4. Metaphor, simile, personification- figurative language
5. Onomatopoeia, alliteration, hyperbole

(A) Here is a Sample Description with Examples from Above

I walked (past tense) slowly and lazily (adverbs) through the dark green (adjectives) forest at the hour of twilight. It seemed(past) as though a billion(hyperbole) chirps, squeals, and skitters (onomatopoeia) were (past tense) all sounding out at the same time. An owl hovers and hoots, then hides(alliteration)(also present tense- don't change tense like this) in the tall, straight towering oak(adjectives) tree above. The forest is an alien world (metaphor) at this time of night, the darkness leaving just enough light to make my view hazy and uncertain(adjectives). It's like another world(simile) is descending(metaphor) and not just night. I had walked(past tense and passive voice) about an hour when I noticed a distinct grey (adjectives) shadow hovering beside the trunk of a large, old, dead (adjectives) tree. It looked as though the tree was guarding(personification) it or this shadow was using it for protection.

(B)Read each pair of descriptive sentences and decide which is more of a 'word picture:

Descriptive writing is an art form. It's painting a word picture so that the reader "sees" exactly what you are describing. To see for yourself what this means, read the following passages carefully. The same scene will be described twice. A quiz follows, so be sure to concentrate.
      #1: The sun was going down beyond the lake. The sky was beautiful. Shades of purple and pink, orange and red, a few really dark blotches, and a bit of yellow were reflected in the water.
      #2: The sleeping water reflected the evening sky. The angels must have spilled their jam, because the sunset was a mixture of grape with strawberry, apricot and raspberry, clumps of blueberry, and a little melted butter.

* * *

      #1: There was a rock sticking up out of the river, and a bird was standing tall and straight on it. Early morning mist was swirling around it.
      #2: In the middle of the misty river, an egret stood at attention on a rock. The movement of the mist made it appear as if the bird were gliding down the river on the back of a baby whale.

* * *

      #1: It was hot. It was too hot. The girl stood beside the road and waited. She was so uncomfortable that she lifted her hair off her neck to cool down. She began to sweat.
      #2: Humidity breathed in the girl's face and ran its greasy fingers through her hair. As she stood looking down the long, deserted road, she could see heat vapor rising in the distance, creating a rippled, watery effect. She frowned and lifted her hair off her neck. A drop of perspiration slid down her spine.

* * *