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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Words With Impact: Direct Language Nuance

Workshop: Discover Words That Sing

“All the poet can do is warn. That is why true poets must be truthful.” Wilfred Owen

Recognizing and Developing Implicit and Explicit Language
Read the following poem Emplumada, from the University of Pittsburg Press. As soon as you finish, write down a journal response of your immediate thoughts and feelings—no analysis—just your immediate reaction.

When summer ended
the leaves of snapdragons withered
taking their shrill-colored mouths with them.
They were still, so quiet. They were
violet where umber now is. She hated
and she hated to see
them go. Flowers

born when the weather was good - this
she thinks of, watching the branch of peaches
daring their ways above the fence, and further,
two hummingbirds, hovering, stuck to each other,
arcing their bodies in grim determination
to find what is good, what is
given them to find. These are warriors

distancing themselves from history.
They find peace
in the way they contain the wind
and are gone.

Would you classify this poem as using implicit or explicit vocabulary? Back up your opinion with examples. For instance:

Literal—explicit: two hummingbirds, hovering,
Figurative—implicit: They find peace

 Is the use of nature metaphors effective or not? Why?

Action Steps:

1. Take a few lines that are explicit and implicit and reverse them to be contrary.

2. In what way does the power of the phrases diminish in expression?

Share: What other metaphor concept other than nature could this poem be spoken in? Why or why not?

Read deep, marcy

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Words With Impact: Direct Language No Language

Workshop: Discover Words That Sing

“Metaphor makes words flesh. Metaphor opens our eyes to applying The Word. So metaphor makes the world of The Word fresh.”  Larry Woiwode

No Language

This is probably not a good choice for an entire novel, but could be adapted for brief scenes, especially if it ties to the plot and theme. The question then is, what other methods of communication would be possible if words or language are not successful or not available? And would it enhance your story’s atmosphere?

In one Star Trek episode Captain Kirk was forced onto a planet surface to fight a beast. He had no idea what was happening and it seemed impossible to communicate with the alien leader he was stranded with. But gradually Kirk realized that the alien spoke in metaphors, and finally they found a way to speak to each other and to survive the attack. It was quite different from the usual episodes and one that forced the viewer to work harder. Yet it became a popular episode. It fit the circumstances of the story.

Law enforcement often use signals. Magicians have built in codes to their assistants. Sign language, lip reading, and body gestures can all be incorporated for communication.

One student mentioned the way the military uses flags. Another pointed out that lack of personal hygiene might indicate illness or depression.

Action Steps:

1. Make a list of all the possibilities you can think of to communicate without any form of spoken language.

2. Choose one version. Then take a short scene you have already written and re-write it without verbal or sign speech.

Share: What effect did you gain? What clarity did you lose?

Read deep, marcy

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Words With Impact: Direct Language Study

Workshop: Discover Words That Sing

“Creativity is itself an act of optimism.”  Edward Albee

Language Study

Another aspect to consider is the sound of your language. This goes beyond sentence structure of flow and pacing, although it can impact both. What sound do you want as your influence—a soft flowing romantic lilt or a more guttural tone such as Klingon. And yes, I do know it’s not a real language even though it has its own dictionary.

Give yourself a few days to wander through a busy city and stop in restaurants to listen to styles of speech. When you hear the accents that attract you, then use their tones and words for your backdrop atmosphere. In my city culture changes from neighborhood to neighborhood. On one street alone within a two-block radius the restaurants include, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Italian, Greek, Hamburger joints, vegan, coffee shops, bakeries (Russian and Polish) and an Irish pub. And I know I’ve forgotten some. Each is owned and provides meals from their cultural specialties.

A twenty-minute stop for an appetizer or dessert or drink offers an opportunity to listen to another country. It’s a relaxing way to study a language.

Another way to hear with a fresh insight is to watch a television show episode, or a movie, in a different language without the sub-titles in any language you speak. Note how intensely you listen and observe and write down any actions or expressions that stand out. Then go back and watch again with the sub-titles to verify or clarify your immediate impressions.

Action Steps:

1. Using one of the suggested categories, write up a brief three to four paragraph scene using a setting from your novel. Or a location you have found charming.

2. Incorporate the sense of communication unique to this place and/or specific conversation between two characters.

Share: Did any details surprise you? Why?

Read deep, marcy

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Words With Impact: Direct Language Communication Choices

Workshop: Discover Words That Sing

                           “The best actors do not let the wheels show.”    Henry Fonda

Not many novelists today have the time, or the desire, to create entire new languages as did Tolkien, but if you do, start with a beginning layer and build as you go. Keep a vocabulary list for the words you create. Decide on verb tenses. Are they singular or will they conjugate into past, present and future?

Perhaps an entire vocabulary is not needed, but just a sprinkle of words throughout to give the language a unique flavor. Farscape knew that their warriors would not be real if they said  ‘oh darn’ when really furious, but they also wanted their series to attract family viewers, so they invented the swear words.

The Firefly series incorporates real Mandarin Chinese within their Western genre atmosphere creating an entirely new and unique setting.

Some of you may use horses in your novels. Consider the possibility of either making up your own distinct vocabulary just for them. Or make a list of all the everyday descriptions of horse care, riding, food, and gear and then choose another language.  Put them all in French or Arabic, Spanish or Portuguese.

Do the same in other areas of your world such a social or government hierarchy. Keep the familiar roles but substitute a different vocabulary when possible.

Writing a mystery? Try using a code throughout a familiar vocation that would not raise any suspicion. Such as the owner of a tearoom using her various teas as code words.

For historical and contemporary stories, look for the specific flavor of words for the particular era or current location. But also be careful not to use modern slang that might be out of date in a few weeks. However, even within a regional section there may be some phrases used differently from town to town.

Find a cultural blog or newspaper column for the region or city of your choice and read through the back issues. Look for phrases that repeat. See if you can find some news videos for your selected region to pick up the cadence. Listen for the public words used for customers. Formal or informal: “Good morning Ma’am,” or “How are you today, Sugar?”

Action Steps:

1. Choose one category that will thread throughout your whole story such as food or a transit system, or an artist in some medium such as photographer or dancer or musician.

2. Make a short list of vocabulary words that would apply to your choice on a daily basis. For example a teacher would have books, a desk, papers to grade, exams, and perhaps a microphone if teaching in a large auditorium.

3. Choose two different languages and compare their counterparts to your list. Would one of them add a nuance flavor or be too cumbersome?

Share: What possible language did you choose and why?

Read deep, marcy

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Words With Impact: Direct Language Communication

Workshop: Discover Words That Sing

“The artist’s vocation is to send light into the human heart.” Robert Schumann

Language communication is built into the fabric of everyday life. A family can spend a day without words and still know what another is feeling, or knows what needs doing because of the rhythms of the household. A glance, a gesture, and body language all speak volumes within a family unit with or without spoken words.

Close friends have a private form of communication. And there are separate methods of communication within the workplace—vocabulary, codes, abbreviations that sometimes make no sense to outsiders.

Movies often communicate through both silence and words to convey emotional echoes to relate to their audience. For example, the opening of the movie Titanic focuses on the sunken vessel. The camera lingers over the silent giant at the bottom of the sea. What echoes are stirred by this choice? Another opening could have extended the newspaper stories, or old photographs. It could have highlighted the passengers. All of which are included in the movie as well, but not right away with the slow pace of the mysterious ocean liner seen through murky waters.

All of these contacts have the potential to build tension and conflict to our characters. First we need to establish what the language of the land is, and whether it is understood by your character, or is completely confusing.

For some the opportunity to study languages is pure joy and for others pure frustration. And yet to not be able to communicate at all can be an emotional prison.

Action Steps:

1.Think of a day when you and someone close to you could not (or would not) speak openly to each other. List all the non-verbal actions you remember using to be heard.

Share: Which one stood out as the most emotional?

Read deep, marcy

"The Seeker" Rachel Marks | Content Copyright Marcy Weydemuller | Site by Eagle Designs
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