Image Grammar Five Brushstrokes
A building overlooked the ocean. A concrete structure rose out of the mountainside as a natural continuation of the rocky terrain. The illumination from the windows shown through the misty cloaked waters, hinting at the silent presence of human life. Show me don’t tell me
Show me don’t tell me • Readers want a picture—something to see, not just a paragraph to read. A picture made out of words. That’s what makes a pro out of on amateur. An amateur writer tells a story. A pro shows the story, creates a picture to look at instead of just words to read. A good author writes with a camera, not with a pen. • The amateur writes: “Bill was nervous.” • The pro writes: “Bill sat in a dentist’s waiting room, peeling the skin at the edge of his thumb, until the raw, red flesh began to show. Biting the torn cuticle, he ripped it away, and sucked at the warm sweetness of his own blood.”
Five Brush Strokes • Action Verbs • Absolutes • Participles • Appositive • Out of order Adjectives
Action Verbs • Passive voice=was, were, had, etc. • Avoids the first person= if something is in first person (I or we) it’s active • Active voice eliminates being verbs creates a sense of action
Passive Voice • Use of the passive voice is not a grammatical error. It’s a stylistic issue that pertains to clarity—there are times when using the passive voice can prevent a reader from understanding what you mean.
The runaway horse was ridden into town by an old white-whiskered rancher. • The old white-whiskered rancher rode the runaway horse into town.
Action Verbs • PASSIVE: The grocery store was robbed by two armed men. • ACTION: Two armed men robbed the grocery store. • PASSIVE: The gravel road was on the left side of the barn. • ACTION: The gravel road curled around the left side of the barn.
Changing Passive voice to Action • Rockwell was a beautiful lake. Canada geese could be heard across the water bugling like tuneless trumpets. Near the shore, two children were hidden behind a massive maple tree. Watching quietly, they hoped to see the first gosling begin to hatch. Tiny giggles escaped their whispers of excitement.
Passive Active • Rockwell was a beautiful lake. • Canada geese could be heard across the water bugling like tuneless trumpets. • Near the shore, two children were hidden behind a massive maple tree. • Watching quietly, they hoped to see the first gosling begin to hatch. • Tiny giggles escaped their whispers of excitement. • Beautiful Rockwell Lake echoed with the sounds of Canada geese. • Their honking bugled across the water like tuneless trumpets. • Two children hid behind a massive maple tree. • They silently watched, hoping to see the first gosling hatch. • Tiny giggles escaped their whispers of excitement.
Absolutes • 2 word combination • A noun + an ingor edverb added onto a sentence • The cat climbed the tree. • Claws digging, feet kicking, the cat climbed the tree.
Find the Absolutes • Mind racing, anxiety overtaking, the diver peered once more at the specimen. • I glanced at my clock, digits glowing florescent blue in the inky darkness of my room. • Jaws cracking, tongue curling, the kitten yawned tiredly, awaking from her nap.
Participles • An ing(sometimes ed)verb tagged on the beginning or end of a sentence • Participles evoke action • The diamond-scaled snakes attacked their prey. • “Hissing, slithering, and coiling, the diamond-scaled snakes attacked their prey.” • “Hissing their forked red tongues and coiling their cold bodies,the diamond-scaled snakes attacked their prey.”
Participles • Flying through the air on the wings of a dream, the Olympic long jumper thrust the weight of his whole body forward. • Melody froze, dripping with sweat, hoping with all her might that they wouldn’t hear the noise. A beam of light swung out into the darkness, searching. • The clown, appearing bright an cheerful, smiled and did his act with unusual certainty for someone who had just killed a man.
_________ and _________ he sent the ball flying. Add a participle to the sentence
The synchronized swimmers swam through a perfect routine. Add a participle
The birds flew from their nests. Add a participle
Appositives • A noun that adds a second image to the subject. • Expands detail in the reader’s imagination • The raccoon enjoys eating turtle eggs. • The raccoon, a scavenger, enjoys eating turtle eggs. • The raccoon, a midnight scavenger who roams lake shorelines in search of food, enjoys eating turtle eggs.
Appositives • The volcano, spewed forth lava and ash across the mountain. • The volcano, a ravenous God of fire, spewed forth lava and ash across the mountain. • The old Navajo woman stared blankly. • The old Navajo woman, a weak and withered lady, stared blankly. • The fish felt the alligator’s giant teeth sink into his scales as he struggled to get away. • The fish, a slimy mass of flesh, felt the alligator’s giant teeth sink into his scales as he struggled to get away.
The whale shot out of the water. Add an appositive to the sentence
The refugee found comfort in his studies. Add an appositive to describe the Man
Out of order Adjectives • Amplify the details of the image • The large, red-eyed, angry bull moose charged the intruder. • The large bull moose, red-eyed and angry,charged the intruder.
Out of order Adjectives • The Pavilion was a simple, long, and rectangular city. • The Pavilion was a simple city, long and rectangular. • The old and wrinkled woman smiled upon her newborn great-grandson with pride. • The woman, old and wrinkled, smiled upon her newborn great-grandson with pride.
Out of order Adjectives Practice • The twisted and tormented boxer,felt no compassion for his contender. • The boxer, twisted and tormented, felt no compassion for his contender. • The tired and hungry cheetah stared at the gazelle, which would soon become his dinner. • The cheetah, tired and hungry, stared at the gazelle, which would soon become his dinner.
The lion yawned. Make a list of Adjectives
The monkey stared. Make a list of Adjectives