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,
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.
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
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
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