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On Craft

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On Craft Vocabulary: “Ghastly”

My apologies for the silence these last couple of days. I feel as though we’re officially re-settling into our Hawaiian lifestyle now, and it’s back to the active life we once knew and loved, which is a good thing. The only catch is, that now we’re five.ish years older, and the active lifestyle isn’t one we’re used to anymore, so we’ve been pretty run down lately. :p . But I’ve not forgotten you, my wonderful writing students! So who’s ready to learn a new word? . #ghastly (not to be confused with the pokemon), is a word with a couple of meanings, but in regardless of your definition, it’s still an adjective. Definition 1 is “causing great horror or fear,” and definition 2 is “extremely unwell.” Let’s take a look at a couple examples. . Using definition 1: I thought up a prank and admit: it was cunning –  The…

Prepositions: Where Relationships Begin

Today we’re going to talk a little bit about prepositions, the part of grammar which – for reasons of which I’m not entirely certain – is where my love of grammar first began. To put it simply, prepositions are words (or phrases) which further define the relationship between a noun/pronoun in a statement and, well, some other element in the statement. This might be easiest to explain with some examples. The cow jumped over the moon James, eat your veggies before dessert. I baked that pie with my bare hands. All of these examples use prepositions to define the actions of the nouns. If you can recall back to my article about grammar being like a train, you’ll remember that a statement is complete as long as it has a subject and a verb. That being said, we know that, “The cow jumped; James, eat your veggies; and I baked…

Writing Challenge: “Summer Heat” Limerick

I’m not sure what the weather’s like where you live, but here, it’s pretty durn hot! Even with a good amount of rain lately, we’re basically just roasting during the daytime hours. :p In honor (or loathing) of this season’s heat, your challenge this week is to write a limerick about what the summer heat means to you. Do you love the summer time for any reason? Tell us about it! Or do you just sit there drenched in sweat counting down the days until cooler weather returns? Then by all means, put it into verse! Remember, though, that limericks have a few guidelines: 1- Limericks are 5 lines long following a rhyme scheme of AABBA (the first, second, and fifth lines rhyme together, and the third and fourth rhyme, as well). 2- Limericks are typically funny, crude, or both. You may write a more serious limerick if you’d like,…

Poetic Fundamentals: Where We All Begin

Poetic Fundamentals: Rhyming You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t know at least one rhyme be it one they heard recently or one which floats around at the back of their mind from their formative years. Rhymes can be catchy, fun, and for centuries, they’ve been employed as a clever way of helping people learn. Poetry is obviously no stranger to rhyming, either, where most children’s first examples of poetry are introduced as nursery rhymes. Did you know, though, that rhyming isn’t always as simple as children’s poems? Rhyming at its Simplest Before we delve into different methods of rhyming, first we should ensure that the basic definition is understood. A rhyme is a sound which corresponds to and otherwise matches the sound of another word: sometimes words rhyme because their endings are spelled the same. Make, cake, slake, and rake are examples of words which rhyme because of their common…

Ilk (noun, and also not always negative)

Let’s learn a new word! . Ilk is one of those words which frequently comes with negative associations. Maybe it’s something to do with the sound of the word? I really don’t know, but the word itself isn’t a negative one at all! It’s simply a word used to describe someone or something to which you’ve already referred. Check out the example below. . The members of the court, lawyers, and other heartless ilk sat at the head of the room and scoffed. . In this examine, ilk refers to people like lawyers and members of the court – essentially anyone heartless like them. Okay, maybe that’s not the best example to use if I’m trying to convince you that ilk isn’t a negative word. Try this one. . Care Bears, teddy bears, and Bearenstein Bears are the kind of ilk which my childhood stories revolved around. . See? Not…

Who or Whom?

Ah, the age-old question: do I use who or whom in my sentence, and how can I tell the difference? Far and away the most common mistake I’ve come across in the written and spoken English language is right here. My wife will attest to the fact, too, that any time we’re sitting down watching a tv show or movie, it’s a rare thing that I make it through the entire feature without shouting, “It’s whom!” I will admit, though, that when I first took up writing, I didn’t really understand the difference either, so let’s clear it up, shall we? I’ll even throw in a little trick I’ve learned to help me get it right every single time. 😉 First of all, to know which word is correct in your writing, you need to understand the difference between a subject and an object (subject being the “focus” of the statement and object being…

Starting Over – A Writing Prompt

This week we’ve been focusing on syllables, and we’ve even learned a new poetic form to fit that focus. In honor of that newfound knowledge, your challenge for the week is to write a carlito poem – you guessed it – about starting over. You can write from the perspective of someone starting over in life, starting over after messing up a recipe, or you could even write about what it would be like for the earth itself to reset. I’m purposely leaving the subject matter wide open to artistic interpretation, so write it as you see fit, but remember: A carlito poem should be formatted as follows: -10 lines in total: Line One: 1 syllable Line Two: 2 syllables Line Three: 3 syllables… …and so on up through line seven Lines 8-10: A haiku -The haiku can be traditional or conventional, but it must follow the typical 5-7-5 syllable…

Poetic Fundamentals: Where We All Begin

Poetic Fundamentals: Syllables So far, we’ve looked at the basics of writing: grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, and voice. Understanding these concepts is essential for any writer be you a novelist, biographer, historian, or poet. Today, however, we’re going to take our first plunge into the basics of poetry, and this is only the beginning! In the next few articles, we’ll take a look at concepts like syllables, rhyming and phonetics, and meter, and in doing so, I hope many of your questions will be answered, but moreover, I’m hoping you’re understanding of how to craft a poem will increase dramatically. Let’s start climbing that diving-board ladder, shall we? What’s a Syllable? Explaining syllables to someone who isn’t familiar with the concept can be tricky. After all, syllables usually have more to do with spoken language than written. It’s like defining the term inch without using the word itself in the definition.…

Voices in Time

Today we look at a concept often overlooked in the writing community: voice. Truthfully, I’m not sure why so many writers go through their careers with no concept or awareness of their voice: perhaps the idea of a normally audible sound being present in a silent work is to blame, or maybe it’s something to do with the impatience of our current generations, but more often than not, if a writer is asked to speak on their written voice, the answer is confused at best and, at worst, utterly lacking. Shall we attempt to clear up that confusion a little? What is Voice? Strange as it is, every single successful writer the world over can be “heard” through their works. Most often, writers who are aware of their voice have a few things in common: the direction of their writing is clear and engaging, the transitions between different parts of…

The Power of Punctuation

Beep, Bop, Blurp! For so many of us, cell phones and text communication have made the rules of grammar and punctuation obsolete. Indeed, in a world full of messages which are, on average, between five and nine words, is punctuation even necessary anymore? In a word, yes, but for those of us seriously pursuing writing as a career, that yes had better be an absolutely, because without punctuation, our sentences lose clarity, and our readers lose interest. That being said, let’s take a look at two of the most commonly misused pieces of punctuation. The Ellipsis The Ellipsis – three consecutive periods (…) – is one of the many tools at our disposal at writers, but unfortunately it’s misused more often than any piece of punctuation I’ve seen. Ellipses are not meant to be used at the end of a sentence nor are they used to indicate a pause or…