Friday, December 2, 2011

Descriptive Segments: Draw a Picture in the Reader's Mind

Writer's draw pictures in reader's mind with words.

Ralph Fletcher draws a vivid picture of Grandma's hands in these sentences from his book, Fig Pudding.

I spent about fifteen minutes studying her hands, the dark veins slowly throbbing under skin that looked thin and clear as tissue paper.  Her hands made me think of driftwood, old and pale and worn smooth. They were stained brown in places but she still had one strong grip.

John Reynolds Gardiner draws a detailed picture in our minds of the Jackson, Wyoming setting in his story, Stone Fox.  He uses words to describe the sights, sounds and feelings.

It's not a dirty snow  It's a clean, soft snow that rests like a blanket over the entire state.  The air is clear and crisp, and the rivers are all frozen.  It's fun to be outdoors and see the snowflakes float down past the brim of your hat, and hear the squeak of the fresh powder under your boots.

Tonight, write three-four sentences that clearly describe the setting in your personal narrative #1.  Draw a picture with words in your reader's mind.

My example:

The old, brick school stood like a castle on the paved and grassy school yard.  Children happily played ball, ran through the grassy field and climbed on the old, silver playground equipment below.  Like smiling eyes, the school's giant windows reflected the bright, happy moment.

Kayla's Example
" The sun shined so bright and the waves crashed down on the sandy rock beach as we dove into them under the water. We tried to stay above, but the the waves like monsters pulled us back under."

Leads: Story Bait

Authors carefully craft a story's lead sentence.  The lead sentence, first sentence, in a story invites the reader into the text.  As bait attracts fish, the lead sentence attracts the reader to the rest of the story.

There are many ways to write a lead sentence:
  • Write a descriptive segment prompting the reader to feel like he/she is right there in the middle of the story setting. Dancing in the bright spring sunshine while the children played below on the Indian Hill School playground, my featherweight Brownie dress hung like a flag from the teachers' room window on the school's second floor.
  • Ask a Question:  "Do you want to go home?" my teacher, Mrs. Foley, asked me.
  • Start with Dialogue:
    • Craft a symbolic statement: The yellow paint adorned my Brownie dress like a splash of sunshine.
    • Do you have a better idea?  If so, let me know.
    Tonight, use one of the lead ideas above and write the lead to your personal narrative #1 in the comment section below.  I'll take a look at your leads tomorrow morning.  Email me if you have questions.

    Awesome Adverbs

    While verbs describe the action in a story, adverbs "add" to the verbs by telling how the action is done.

    For example in the sentence:

    John walked quickly to the market.

    "Walked" is the verb that tells the action, and "quickly" is the adverb that describes how the action is done.

    Most adverbs end in "ly" such as quickly, slowly, happily, and cleverly, but some do not end in "ly" such as these adverbs of place that answer the question, where?
    downstairs, there, outsideabove, away, below, down, here, inside, there, up 

    Write three sentences that describe actions you like to do. Add an adverb to each sentence.  Use this list
     if you need help coming up with adverbs for your sentences.

    This is another article that can help you to understand adverbs.

    Ms. Devlin's Example:

    1. I ski cautiously down the steep mountain trails.
    2. I hike dreamily through the autumn forest.
    3. I correct math tests thoughtfully each week.