language


Random quote of the day:

“Clichés are the cockroaches of language. We may sneer, but they will outlive us.”

—Joyce Carol Oates, Twitterfeed, 3/3/14

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“LANGUAGE, n. The music with which we charm the serpents guarding another’s treasure.”

—Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“The heart is a foreign country whose language none of us is good at.”

—Jack Gilbert, “Meanwhile”

 heart4wp

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“Poetry is language surprised in the act of changing into meaning.”

—Stanley Kunitz, Conversations with Stanley Kunitz, ed. Kent P. Ljungquist

 surprised4WP@@@

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“There is no tracing the connection of ancient nations, but by language; and therefore I am always sorry when any language is lost, because languages are the pedigree of nations.”

—Samuel Johnson, quoted in James Boswell, The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides

 lost4WP@@@

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“A language is a more ancient and inevitable thing than any state.”

—Joseph Brodsky, letter to Bob McKelvey, Detroit Free Press, October 23, 1987

 language4WP@@@

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Flowers are words even a baby can understand.”

—attributed to Quentin Crisp

flowers4WP@@@ 

Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“We live at the level of our language. Whatever we can articulate we can imagine or understand or explore. All you have to do to educate a child is leave him alone and teach him to read. The rest is brainwashing.”

—Ellen Gilchrist, Falling Through Space

 reading4WP@@@

 

Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“Good writers are those who keep the language efficient.”

—Ezra Pound, ABC of Reading

 language4WP@@@

 

Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Jim Van Pelt wrote an interesting post today. Take a paragraph of writing—your own or a master like Fitzgerald—and arrange it like a poem. Immediately, the vibrancy (or lack thereof) of the writing pops out in ways it doesn’t when arranged as a paragraph.

I decided to try this with the opening of my novel Shivery Bones. Here’s the original, which I’d previously thought decent-enough:

Jolene’s earthquake passed through her midsection, rolled along her limbs, then off into the grass beneath her toes to make the ground shake. She fell, gasping with pain and surprise as the temblor radiated out from her and across the yard, the ground splitting like an overripe peach. The leaves of the trees along the high wall shook as if attacked by nerves, swaying and groaning. The wave crested inside Jolene, her personal shaking stopped. The earth and trees stilled a moment later, and the ground healed itself, closing as if no trembling had ever occurred.

However, when I arranged it as a poem, the dead parts really jumped out at me. It didn’t have life or flow, I thought:

Jolene’s earthquake
passed through her midsection,
rolled along her limbs,
then off into the grass
beneath her toes to make
the ground shake. She fell,
gasping with pain and surprise
as the temblor radiated out
from her and across the yard,
the ground splitting
like an overripe peach.
The leaves of the trees
along the high wall shook
as if attacked by nerves,
swaying and groaning.
The wave crested inside Jolene,
her personal shaking stopped.
The earth and trees stilled
a moment later, and the ground
healed itself, closing as if
no trembling had ever occurred.

******************************

Immediately, the tweaking began:

Jolene’s earthquake
rolled through her midsection,
vibrated along her limbs,
sloughing off into the grass
beneath her toes, the ground
beneath an echo of her own shaking.
She fell, gasping with pain
and surprise as the temblor
radiated from her and
across the yard, the earth
splitting like an overripe peach.
The leaves of the trees along
the high wall quivered as from an attack
of nerves, swaying and groaning.
The wave crested inside Jolene,
her personal quaking done.
The earth and trees stilled,
the ground healed itself,
closing as if no trembling
had ever occurred.

I don’t think this is a perfect paragraph by any means, but I do think it’s an improved one. It might be worth trying this techniques for openings and other troublesome passages:

Jolene’s earthquake rolled through her midsection, vibrated along her limbs, sloughing off into the grass beneath her toes, the ground beneath an echo of her own shaking. She fell, gasping with pain and surprise as the temblor radiated from her and across the yard, the earth splitting like an overripe peach. The leaves of the trees along the high wall quivered as from an attack of nerves, swaying and groaning. The wave crested inside Jolene, her personal quaking done. The earth and trees stilled, the ground healed itself, closing as if no trembling had ever occurred.

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