Secret Writing Techniques #3 Polysyndeton

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Last week we talked about asyndeton – a method of listing items without using a conjunction for the purpose of showing more by saying less – and the week before was onomotoepia.

Today we will study polysyndeton, which is diametrically opposed to asyndeton. Polysyndeton is the repeated use of conjunctions for the purpose of intensifying the scene, building the excitement and indicating (like asyndeton) an endless and innumerable list.

Our thanks to Word Magic for Writers by Cindy Rogers for this example. This quote comes from Charlotte’s Web where a rat is telling Wilbur the pig, in no uncertain terms, what he expects.

“Struggle if you must,” said Templeton, “but kindly remember that I’m hiding down here in this crate and I don’t want to be stepped on, or kicked in the face, or pummeled, or crushed in any way, or squashed, or buffeted about, or bruised, or lacerated or scarred, or biffed.”

Do you think Templeton made himself clear? And how did he do that? He drove the point home by using the repetitious ‘or.’ You will find a lot of this in children’s books. If you will listen to children talk, they use a lot of polysndeton when they talk:

“Mommy, I want ice cream, and chocolate, and nuts, and whipped cream.”

Do you see how these examples build the scene by intensifying repetition? This is a simple technique, but don’t discount its importance.

P.S. Did you notice this example uses antiquated language? Writing styles are always morphing and wise is the writer who morphs with them. Today’s writer would have written “Templeton said” instead of “said Templeton.”

Assignment:

Write three sentences using ASYNDETON and three more sentences using POLYSYNDETON. Send them to DeborahOwen@CWinst.com. Memorize these words and know what they mean.

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Secret Writing Techniques #1

ASYNDETON

Writers have developed innumerable techniques to nail their reader’s eyes to the page, and one of those secret weapons is called asyndeton. However, there is nothing new under the sun. We have simply learned how to describe what we do and have tagged it with a name. These techniques have been around since Adam and Eve told stories to Cain and Abel.

Asyndeton means disjointed and unconnected. In literature, it is the art of stringing a list of clauses together without the use of conjunctions. Doesn’t sound that exciting, does it? But wait until you see the examples!

From Double Indemnity: Why, they’ve got ten volumes on suicide alone. Suicide by race, by color, by occupation, by sex, by seasons of the year, by time of day. Suicide, how committed: by poisons, by firearms, by drowning, by leaps. Suicide by poison, subdivided by types of poison, such as corrosive, irritant, systemic, gaseous, narcotic, alkaloid, protein, and so forth.

Writers aren’t the only ones who use this effectively. Orators and statesmen use it, too.

Julius Caesar said, “I came, I saw, I conquered.”

Sir Winston Churchill used it in 1940 in the address known as “We shall fight on the beaches:”

We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

And John F. Kennedy used it: “…that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

Now it’s your turn. For hard core impact with a dramatic effect, try asyndeton!

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What Makes Flash Fiction Sizzle or Fizzle?

by guest columnist, Avily Jerome

What Flash Fiction Markets Want

Avily Jerome is the Editor of Havok Magazine, the speculative fiction imprint at Splickety Publishing Group. When not editing flash fiction stories, she is a stay-at-home mom of six and is an aspiring speculative fiction author.

Interview by Farheen Gani

Flash fiction is one of the most enjoyable types of fiction to read because it’s quick and doesn’t require a great time commitment. You can read a flash story in a waiting room or in the bathroom or any time you have a few minutes to kill.

However, the very things that make flash fiction fun to read are what make it hard to write. An entire story world, developed characters, and a well-structured plot must be written in one thousand words or less. And, of course, as with all stories, it must engage your reader. Any story that is boring or has flat characters will be laid aside, regardless of how short it is.

Splickety Publishing Group looks for a few major elements when we’re deciding whether or not to acquire a story.

  1. Every word must count.

With flash stories, there’s no room for fluff. Excessive description or scene-setting pulls away from the story. With so much to accomplish in such a short amount of time, your writing needs to be concise and vivid. Use strong verbs and adjectives, and cut out anything that doesn’t directly add to the story.

  1. It must have a complete story arc.

Story structure in a flash piece is a more fluid concept than in a novel, but your story arc still has the same elements. It should start with some sort of inciting incident, include some major obstacle to overcome, and conclude with some sort of resolution at the end. It not only needs to engage the reader—it needs to satisfy him.

  1. It should have a twist of some sort.

This is not a hard-and-fast rule, but it is something that we at SPG like to see. Some of the best flash pieces have a twist that the reader doesn’t see coming. If you can incorporate an element of shock or humor or something thought provoking into your story, it’s more likely to hold our attention.

In short, we crave interesting stories that are tightly written. If we think your story has merit, we’ll work with you to make it the best it can be. Please visit our website at http://splicketypubgroup.com/submission-guidelines/ for upcoming themes and how to submit.

Get a FREE writing evaluation at http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com and sign up for The Writer’s Choice Newsletter (top right corner). Questions? Write to DeborahOwen@CWInst.com.

Don’t Read This!

Warning!

Don’t Read This

You Might Learn Something

by Deborah Owen

If you are a writer, it means you have courage! Every time you write, you’re revealing your deepest innermost feelings and attitude toward life. Not only that, you’re risking public judgment. Anyone who can face those odds can go the rest of the way and be published, but publication isn’t the end of your learning experience. It’s just the beginning.

Everything in life is a story that needs to be told. You still carry that small notebook, don’t you? The one you used to tell about the deer carcass on the road, the flashing ambulance and fire truck on their way to a wreck, the motorcycle club that held you up forever at an intersection, and the idiot with road rage. All of these are bits of a story yet to be told. Note them.

Learn from your “failed stories.” You know. The ones that didn’t sell. There is something to be learned from all of them. Reread them and ask yourself what is wrong with them. Are they wordy? Did you write yourself into a corner? Too many characters for the length of your story? (Two main characters and one or two more for flavor is all a 2,000 word story will comfortably hold.) Did your characters lack development? Did you force them to do something that went against their grain? Did you describe them so the reader could identify with them? Were your scenes in chronological order? Did you have enough conflict? Did the plot climax at least 2/3 of the way through? Did the middle sag? Spice those old stories up with alliteration, asyndeton, polysyndeton, similes, idioms, metaphors, and other advanced techniques. Don’t know what they are? Stay tuned. That’s what we’re going to study next.

When you hit a dead end, ask yourself two questions: what is the message of my story? How can I complicate the plot?

Don’t let your characters take the reins and write their own story. They will lead you places you don’t want to go. When that happens, stop and recapitulate. Roughly re-outline the story (you DID make an outline… right?) and follow it.

Remember your early writing days when you tried to decide whether ‘this sentence’ should go in ‘this’ paragraph or the next one? When you looked up the rules for ‘laying and lying,’ ‘further and farther,’ ellipses, quotations, italics, etc.? Remember your first story? Your first publication? Remember thinking how you would like to go to school, but it cost over $400 for a six-week course?

Now you can take that course. Creative Writing Institute offers eight-week courses with a private tutor for only $260. No money? We have a payment plan with no interest. And… well… we would do your homework for you, too, but it would be best if you put forth a little effort.  🙂

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You are Your Worst Critic

Valentine Month Editorial
by Deborah Owen
Why does everything you write have to be perfect? Why must you be your own worst critic? You sweat and stew over churning out one typewritten page until the pleasure is gone from that greatest of all gifts – writing.

Why do you write? Is it not for pleasure? Is it not to give voice to that which lies within? Is it not to lather words in and around your soul until they cannot be contained? And thus you ponder, pander and play with characters, disguising in anonymity the events, episodes and people from your own life until the whole bursts forth as a new found infant.

As a new mother labors to bring her baby into the world, you cannot deny that which refuses to leave… the desire to write. Love it. Nurture it. Move it up the line of priorities until you reap the satisfaction that calls to your heart. Learn the trade at  Creative Writing Institute  with a private tutor. Give yourself a Valentine present. You deserve it. Sign up today and start tonight!

You are Cordially Invited to Join My Family for Christmas Dec. 28

by Deborah Owen

Note: The astute reader will notice a strong inconsistency in the pictures. What is it? I’ll give you the answer to the mystery question at the very end.

———————————–

*knock knock

Oh, you did come! I’m so glad! Come in and meet my family. We usually gather on Christmas Eve so everyone can be home for Christmas, but this year the family gathering is on December 28.

Dory B-day, 12-28-12 (57)

Okay, from left to right, Mom is first. She’s 96, can you believe it? *whisper* She’s a pistol. Don’t get her stirred up. And that’s my twin standing next to her. (Okay. I lied. I don’t have a twin, but it sure mixes the story up if I don’t use that slight embellishment. Yes, I know I don’t look like my picture. It’s a bad hair day and I’m not photogenic.) The little guy in blue is my youngest grandson, now 14, and the cutie in the white top is my oldest granddaughter, now 22, who just made me a great-grandma! Back to the left, behind Mom, is my precious daughter, Dory; her hubby is peeking over Mom’s head. Next to him is my beautiful younger granddaughter, now 18. See the big ham in the back? That’s my oldest grandson, and next to him is his father (my son), then my sweet daughter-in-law, and the old fellow on the right is my husband. We’ll celebrate our 55th anniversary on December 30. I’ve decided to keep him.

We all welcome you! This isn’t the first time we’ve had a visitor for Christmas. Today, you are our honored guest.

Did you see all the food in the dining room? Bet you smelled the ham the minute you came in.

2013 Christmas, Dorys house, Franklin IN (3)

We have ham sandwiches, chips, Dory’s special Jello-mold salad – out of this world – and various other treats and desserts. Stuff yourself! We also have Coke, Diet Coke, Dr. Pepper, and Root Beer. What? You’ve never heard of Root Beer? Oh, I love it! It’s a soft drink that foams and spritzes your nose when you take your first drink. It has a little licorice flavoring. Here. Have a taste… oh dear. That bad, eh? Okay, maybe you’d rather have Coke.

Let’s grab a sandwich and hog the seats in front of the fireplace! *giggles Isn’t it beautiful?

2013 Christmas, Dorys house, Franklin IN (7)

No stress is allowed in this room. Let’s sit on the loveseat. There’s a handle on the side. Pull it out and a footrest will pop out. Whoops! Ha ha… you weren’t quite ready for that, were you?

Hmm? No. That’s not real wood in the fireplace. It’s a fireplace log. It’ll burn six hours and won’t cause creosote to build up in the chimney. We had a chimney fire at our house one time. The neighbor called and said, “Do you know you have flames shooting 50 feet out of your chimney?” Well, duh, no! We ran outside, and man alive! We were lighting up the sky! It’s a miracle the house didn’t burn down, but I love fireplaces, don’t you? We used to burn Christmas wrapping paper and watch the flames turn different colors. [It doesn’t take much to entertain us. lol]

Hey! It’s time to open presents. Let’s go in the living room. Isn’t that a gorgeous tree? I love it.

Christmas Eve 2010 Stephen's House (5)

As soon as everyone gathers, my son-in-law will read the first twenty verses of Luke, chapter two, that recounts the birth of Jesus. Sometimes we talk about it for a few minutes. You know, according to the customs of Bible days, Mary may have been as young as 16 or 17. Can you imagine having a baby in a barn? I wonder how long she labored, and what baby Jesus weighed. Mary had a wonderful husband. He wrapped the baby in swaddling clothes, which in those days, were burial shrouds, and laid Him in an animal’s feeding trough. The swaddling clothes were a prophecy that this baby would live a perfect life and die to pay our sin debt. We certainly can’t pay it ourselves. Anyway, after we pray, we’ll open gifts. We don’t spend a lot on one another. We give sweaters, scarves, books, DVDs and the like. Our gifts are meant to show our love for each other, just as God showed His love by giving us His Son.

By the way, we thought you might be coming tonight, so each person bought you a token gift. Now don’t feel bad about it. You’re our guest and we want to be a blessing to you.

Since Ethan is the youngest, he’ll probably pass out the presents. When we get them, we shake them and try to guess what’s inside. Dory usually has the two boys open one gift, then the two girls open one, and the kids alternate like that until they’re done. Then they go into the other room while we open ours.

Last year we had a White Elephant Christmas, which was almost like a game. Everyone brought something from home that they didn’t want, and the gifts were wrapped. We took turns choosing a mystery package. I chose the biggest one, of course. The gang went into an uproar!

Christmas Eve,2012 Enhanced (19)

I should have chosen the gift my oldest grandson chose.

Continue reading You are Cordially Invited to Join My Family for Christmas Dec. 28