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Nov
21
Frank Ball

Daffynitions

Weekend Fun
0

Each morning Frank Ball reads a few comic strips to stir his creative thinking. In just a few frames, many of them tell an interesting story with beginning, middle, and end.
  One of his regular reads is Frank & Ernest by Thaves. Here are a few daffynitions from there that he recently added to his collection:

  • Conjunctivitis — An irrational fear of words like “and,” “or,” and “but”
  • Counter Intelligence — What is gained by going to the Information Desk
  • Paranoid Optimist — People who think everybody is out to get them something nice
  • Pillage — Plunder of aspirin and vitamins
  • Solar Panel — A group of stars that judge the talents of other stars
  •  
    To read more of Frank’s collection, Click Here.

    Nov
    18
    Frank Ball

    Use the Good to Become Better

    Writing Well
    1

    Several writer’s group members have expressed interest in Frank’s daily practice of taking a paragraph from a bestselling novel and striving to make it better. So maybe we should explain his process in greater depth than what we’ve done in previous blogs, giving an example.
      Here are the steps he takes: (1) Highlight the paragraph. (2) Read it aloud. (3) Copy the paragraph. While typing, he’ll again read it aloud. (4) Edit it. (5) Improve it. (6) Write it in his own words. Since he isn’t Peter Pan, with writer’s pixie dust to quickly fly from reality to the Neverland of imagination, progressive improvement steps are needed to move from the original to something more in his style, hopefully better.
      Frank says this process, after a year, will do more for his writing skills than a college course. And he’s not paying tuition.
      Here’s one practice example, from page 119 of Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton, a novel that was published after his death. Compare the “Original” with the “More in My Style” paragraph. Which one do you think is better? If you read the in-between steps, you might get a better idea of the places where one thought for improvement leads to another.

    Original:
      Hunter took the glass, and drank a little. He felt mesmerized, almost in a trance. But the taste of the claret broke the spell of the moment; the ordinary gesture of lifting the glass to his lips and swallowing brought him back to himself. His shock passed away, and he began to notice a thousand tiny details. He heard the breathing of the soldier behind him; probably two paces behind, he thought. He saw the irregularity of Cazalla’s beard and guessed the man had been some days at sea. He smelled the garlic on Cazalla’s breath as he leaned forward and said, “Now, Englishman. Tell me: what is your name?”

    Copied:
      Hunter took the glass, and drank a little. He felt mesmerized, almost in a trance. But the taste of the claret broke the spell of the moment; the ordinary gesture of lifting the glass to his lips and swallowing brought him back to himself. His shock passed away, and he began to notice a thousand tiny details. He heard the breathing of the soldier behind him; probably two paces behind, he thought. He saw the irregularity of Cazalla’s beard and guessed the man had been some days at sea. He smelled the garlic on Cazalla’s breath as he leaned forward and said, “Now, Englishman. Tell me: what is your name?”

    Edited:
      Hunter took the glass and drank a little. He felt mesmerized, almost in a trance. But the sweetness of the wine broke the spell of the moment. The ordinary gesture of lifting the glass to his lips and swallowing brought him back to himself. His shock passed away, and he noticed tiny details he hadn’t seen before. He heard the breathing of the soldier behind him, probably two paces behind. He saw the irregularity of Cazalla’s beard and guessed the man had been some days at sea. He smelled the garlic on Cazalla’s breath as Cazalla leaned forward and said, “Now, Englishman. Tell me: what is your name?”

    Improved:
      Hunter took the glass and drank a little. He felt mesmerized, almost in a trance, until the sweetness of the wine broke the momentary spell. The simple lifting of the glass to his lips and swallowing brought fresh awareness. His shock passed, and he noticed tiny details he hadn’t seen before. He heard the breathing of the soldier behind him, probably two paces behind. He saw the irregularity of Cazalla’s beard, a sign that he had been some days at sea. He smelled the garlic on Cazalla’s breath as the man leaned forward and said, “Now, Englishman. Tell me: what is your name?”

    More in My Style:
      Hunter took the glass and drank a little. He felt mesmerized, like in a trance, until the wine’s sweetness broke the momentary spell. The simple lifting of the glass to his lips and swallowing brought deep awareness. His shock had passed, and tiny details became important. The breathing of the soldier behind him, probably two paces away. The irregularity of Cazalla’s beard, a sign that the captain had been some days at sea. The garlic on Cazalla’s breath.
      The captain leaned forward, his eyes penetrating. “Now, Englishman. Tell me. What is your name?”

    Nov
    14
    Frank Ball

    Making Someone Proud

    Weekend Fun
    0

    Whether butler, baker, or biscuit maker, we have talent. If we can talk, we can write. And if we’re working for the Lord, we can please someone who is even more important than Mom and Dad.

    Nov
    11
    Frank Ball

    Be Original

    Writing Well
    0

    Copying another writer’s work is called plagiarism. Besides the practice being illegal, a violation of copyright law, it’s impractical, because it presents you as someone other than who you really are.
      A quotation that cites the source isn’t plagiarism, but its value comes from the audience recognizing the author and readily accepting its truth. Quoting someone the audience doesn’t know is like asking a homeless man what is most important in building a thriving business. The audience will respect the message only if they already believe it.
      If you want to really irritate readers, include lots of quotes in what you write. Why is that a problem? Readers want to know what you think, how you feel. They don’t need your help in gathering information about what others have said. With Internet accessibility, this is even more true than ever before.
      Even quoting Scripture can be a problem today, because more people are reluctant to accept Bible verses as absolute truth. Connected to your logic and story examples, your paraphrase might be more effective.
      Copyright applies to the words, not the concepts. You’re free to do your research, learning what others are thinking. Make note of different authors whose words resonate with you. Let the ideas incubate for a while. Then write your message using your own words, your own examples, your own logic.
      Your readers will thank you for taking the extra effort.