Friday, January 11, 2008

Writing Workshop, Part 1

I will still be doing Christian book reviews--Chill Out Josey, by Susan May Warren, is coming up on the 15th--but I will be posting my own little version of a writing workshop for the next several weeks. At least, that's the plan. I want to share some information, facts, tips, whatever you want to call them, that I've valued as a writer and have helped me. I will be recommending various books on the craft of writing as well as some writing websites or online courses.

First of all, let me say that if you haven't joined ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) you're cheating yourself out of a great resource. You will not only learn about how to improve your writing, but you'll make friends who will be valuable to you in so many ways.

I will be using examples from the book, Word Magic for Writers, by Cindy Rogers.

This book is full of rhetorical devices, devices which can increase the power of your words, help you emphasize a certain point, ratchet up the emotion of a scene, or just plain make your story more interesting. Want to know how to do that? Of course!

The first few devices listed in the book are called “Devices of Sound & Repetition.” They are alliteration, assonance, consonance, and onomatopoeia. The first one we’ll discuss is alliteration. You’ve all heard of alliteration, I’ll bet. It’s “the repetition of initial consonant sounds in successive words or stressed syllables.”
Here’s an example from Richard Peck’s book, Fair Weather: “Well, I’m an old sod-bustin’ son of the soil . . . I got more toes than teeth,” and “They’s green as gourds and never seen nothing.”
Or from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: “Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained and solitary as an oyster.” [Examples taken from page 17 of Word Magic for Writers.]

Another great way to learn about rhetorical devices, plus a whole lot more, is from Margie Lawson's Deep Editing course, which she teaches online. See her website for more information.

Here’s a little assignment. What do you think alliteration did for the passages above? Also, give an example, from your own work or from a favorite author, of alliteration. Post them in the comments and I'll take a look at them.

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