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Apr
24
Frank Ball

Falling Flat

Weekend Fun
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Some of us have fallen flat on our face before. What do we do? As writers, after receiving a rejection letter, a bad review, or no encouragement at all, we can quit.
  The wonderful thing about knowing we can’t win is not having to try. But if we believe that God will somehow use our talents for good, that just the chance to change one life makes the sacrifice worthwhile, we must get up and keep running.
  Only the finish line will tell how well we did.

Apr
17
Frank Ball

The Not-so-Simple Laugh

Weekend Fun
0

We can laugh when we’re happy and laugh when we’re sad. We can laugh flippantly, seriously, or or simply because others in the room are laughing. Our laughs may be deep and throaty or light and shrill.
  The number of laugh types and their meanings are unlimited, yet many writers lazily write: He laughed. Little is gained by checking the thesaurus and using a synonym like chuckled, giggled, or guffawed.
  Readers will appreciate us if we show the action, expression, and sound of laughter so they have a picture of what that particular laugh was like.
  Here are a few pictures you might appreciate:

Apr
14
Frank Ball

Hefty Humor

Learning from the Masters, Writing Well
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Learning from the Masters

Dave Barry writes some funny stuff, but can we take a great paragraph from his book Dave Barry Is Not Making This Up and make it even better?

A great paragraph:
  The last fight I had was in the eighth grade, when I took on John Sniffen after school because he let the air out of my bike tires. Actually, I didn’t know that he did this, but he was the kind of kid who would have, and all the other suspects were a lot larger than I was.

What we might see for an improved version:
  My last fisticuff was in the eighth grade, after school. I took on John Sniffen because he had let the air out of my bike tires. Actually, I didn’t know he had, but he was a kid who would, and the other suspects were a lot bigger.

Some logic for making improvements:

  1. After we have a sense of his point of view, we want to deepen the perspective when readers slip into his shoes. What will they be seeing?
  2. I’m not believing Dave Barry never had a conflict after the eighth grade. That might be the last time he used his fists, but there were many other fights. Therefore, “fight” isn’t the best word to give readers the picture that the author has. “Fisticuff” is better.
  3. How does “after school” modify “John Sniffen”? That phrase needs to be part of the scene setup: “in the eighth grade, after school” is better.
  4. “He let the air out of my tires” is present action for a previous event. The past perfect “he had let the air out of my tires” is better.
  5. Next we can tighten the focus on the verbs “know” and “would” by using “know he had” instead of “know that he did this.”
  6. An observer would say, “All the other suspects were a lot larger than I was,” but the tighter point of view would narrow the focus. Saying, “The other suspects were a lot bigger,” is better.
Apr
10
Frank Ball

Making Healthful Music

Weekend Fun
0

You may have heard there’s more than one way to skin a cat. There’s more than one way to make music as well, and the strangest materials may be used to make musical instruments.
  Australian musician Linsey Pollak has worked as an instrument maker for forty years, designing many new wind instruments, not the least of which is this exciting product that you can manufacture at home.
  It gives a whole new meaning to a child “playing with his vegetables” at the dinner table.