Monday, April 15, 2013

Teaching Point: Definition of Terms

In class, I will edit your pages and make all kinds of comments as we go along.  Most, you will forget.  Why?  You are all worked up!  It's terrifying to read in front of me and the group.  Don't worry.  You'll get what you need to get.  And, when you go through your pages later, you'll notice a few terms on the page.  Here are explanations to help you find your way:

Beat:  This means to slow down and add a moment, a beat.  It’s almost as if you need to add a second for a sensory detail like sound.  Just stopping and looking at that place to see what could go there to even the pacing of the sentence.  When you see this instruction on your page, stop, read the sentence out loud and see what comes.   Put it on the page.

Unpack:  Unfold what you are saying in a simple way with more complex description.  This usually means add more details.  IE:  It was a hot day.  (Or unpack).  It was hot, too hot, sweating hot, sticking to every chair hot, the kind of hot that made me want to suck on ice all day long, or stick my face in the refrigerator or go the waterfalls and just loll around.

Body:  This means to describe the body—what is being touched, what is touching, what is the body doing in space in relationship to other bodies and objects. 

Sensory:  This means to add one of the senses (not seeing in fact, remove seeing, looking, watching, observing and all this from your text).  Sight is the last sense—not the first.  Try smell, taste, touch.

Nature:  I’m looking for a moment to include the world around you—weather, flowers, birds (no barking dogs), wind, sun, dark, crickets, something from the natural world.  Leaves falling, rain etc.

Slow Down:  This is similar to beat but beat is short.  Slow down means to really S  L  O  W down in your story telling.  Freeze the moment in time, spread it thinner and wider, expand the moment.

Voice:  When you see this on the page, it means I am hearing your voice and that’s a good thing.  I’m just bringing attention to that mystical elusive aspect of writing.

Space/Place:  When you see this on your pages, this means I want you to describe your physical location—underfoot, overhead, right, left.   It’s like checking in with the staging aspect of writing

Go Vertical:  This is your moment to ruminate and to ask questions and even attempt to answer them.  Pat answers are suspect.  You are not looking for answers you are looking for questions and shades of answers to your questions and the willingness to be wrong.  If you are firm on your assessment of the situation and what it all means, stop doing that and look at your need to nail it all down.  Put that on the page.  IE:  I need things to make sense, I do, I feel safe and right and pulled together.  I can take this question off the checklist, but can I?  Is being safe about being alive?  Can any of us make sense of the complexity of living and life and love and loss? 

Bump:  This means that something in that moment (and I am not sure what) didn’t quite work—it’s bumpy.  Something needs to be added and it’s usually something from the active part of the scene—a detail about the action that is taking place in the scene.

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