Advanced Imagery; Green Eggs and Ham

17 Nov

Green Eggs and Ham

Here’s some food for thought (pun intended) about keeping your writing simple.

Legend has it that Dr. Seuss was challenged by a friend to write a story using fewer than 50 unique words.  So the story could be as many words long as needed, but he could only use up to 50 different words.  This is a very difficult challenge and would force Dr. Seuss to keep his writing very simple in order to actually tell a story with such a limited amount of words to choose from.  Every word choice was extremely important.  Dr. Seuss went on to write Green Eggs and Ham.  Published in 1960, Green Eggs and Ham is one of the most well-known children’s books ever written.  That’s a true testament to keeping things simple!

Advanced Imagery

We have learned about imagery, which is descriptive language that uses any of the five sense.  Today we will discuss some more advanced uses of the skill. Review this Writer’s Digest article.

In your notebooks write about something interesting you did recently.  Next, make a list of the things you saw, smelled, tasted, felt, and heard during that experience.

Advanced Imagery Techniques

  1. Don’t stop the story to give descriptions. Instead, weave your descriptions into the action.  Example: As he shook Hulk Hogan’s hand, he could feel the years of training, body slams and grappling in the callouses of Hogan’s palms.  Instead of: He shook Hulk Hogan’s hand.  Hogan’s hands were calloused and tough from the years of training , body slams and grappling.  In the first example, there is action and description at the same time, in the second, first there is action then the description follows, slowing down the pace of the story. The first example is better because it weaves the action and description together, keeping the story moving.
  2. Try using “Double Nouns” to convey your imagery.  These are basically “Imagery Metaphors.” That describe a sensation and make a comparison simultaneously.  Examples:  Concrete bed, iceberg floor, a cat’s “sandpaper tongue”, spiderweb hair, flagpole physique, leather skin, pumpkin head.  Notice that these examples are two nouns (person, place, thing or idea) next to each other.  They are very effective in creating an image, while not slowing down the story to give a description.

Now add to your story, using two description that are part of an action, and two “Double Nouns” to describe elements in your story.  Don’t say “Walt stood over me, while I was in my seat.  He was tall and skinny like a flagpole.” Instead say “As I sat in my seat, Walt’s flagpole physique stood over me.”  The second sentence incorporates actions in the descriptions and uses a “Double Noun” comparison which describes how Walt looks, without interrupting the story.

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