Image Grammar The Five+1 “Brushstrokes”
Compare the following images, the first written by a high school student… It was winter. Everything was frozen and white. Snow had fallen from the sky for days. The weather was horrible.
The second by well-known novelist Brian Jacques… Mossflower lay deep in the grip of midwinter beneath a sky of leaden gray that showed tinges of scarlet and orange on the horizon. A cold mantle of snow draped the landscape, covering the flatlands to the west. Snow was everywhere, filling the ditches, drifting high against the hedgerows, making paths invisible, smoothing the contours of earth in its white embrace.
Brushstroke #1 Participle • An –ingor –edword (usually) that acts as an adjective. • Adds more action to a description.
The snake attacked its prey. Hissing, slithering, and coiling, the snake attacked its prey.
Participles Painted by Ernest Hemingway Shifting the weight of the line to his left shoulder and kneeling carefully, he washed his hand in the ocean and held it there, submerged for more than a minute, watching the blood trail away and the steady movement of the water against his hand as the boat moved. --- Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Brushstroke #2 Appositive • A noun or noun phrase that adds a second image to a preceding noun. • It expands details in the imagination.
The raccoon enjoys eating turtle eggs.The raccoon, a midnight scavenger, enjoys eating turtle eggs.
Write a sentence with an appositive phrase… watch your punctuation!
Appositives Painted by Cornelius Ryan Plowing through the choppy gray waters, a phalanx of ships bore down on Hitler's Europe: fast new attack transports, slow rust-scarred freighters, small ocean liners, channel steamers, hospital ships, weather-beaten tankers, and swarms of fussing tugs. Barrage balloons flew above the ships. Squadrons of fighter planes weaved below the clouds. And surrounding this cavalcade of ships packed with men, guns, tanks, and motor vehicles, and supplies came a formidable array of 702 warships. --- June 6, 1944: The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan
Brushstroke #3 Adjectives Out of Order • Placing adjectives in a different order can be effective. • Do not use too many “lists” of adjectives. • Amplify the details of an image.
The large, red-eyed, angry moose charged the intruder. The large moose, red-eyed and angry, charged the intruder.
Adjectives Out of Order Painted by Doyle, Carr, and Peck And then, suddenly, in the very dead of the night, there came a sound to my ears, clear, resonant, and unmistakable. --- The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle The Pavilion was a simple city, long and rectangular. --- Alienist by Caleb Carr I could smell Mama, crisp and starched, plumping my pillow, and the cool muslin pillowcase touched both my ears as the back of my head sank into all those feathers. --- A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
Brushstroke #4 Varying Sentence Beginnings • Allows the writing to flowmore effectively • Move a phrase or clause to the beginning of the sentence — instead of always beginning the sentence with the subject.
The cat climbed the tree with great caution. With great caution, the cat climbed the tree.
The startled frog grasped the leaf at the last moment.
The walrus lounged upon the sand when he finished breakfast.
Rather than starting with the subject: • Begin with a prepositional phrase- The children played with their puppybefore they ate dinner. Before they ate dinner, the children played with the puppy. • Begin with a subordinate clause- • Billy aced the test even though he didn’t have time to study. Even though he didn’t have time to study, Billy aced the test. • Begin with an adjective/participles or an adverb- Spirited and enthusiastic, the students began the the project. Quickly and quietly, the students began their science test.
The bear confidently sauntered into the cabin uninvited and unannounced. (1) (2)
Brushstroke #5 Using Precise Language • Make your writing more energetic with action verbs. (avoid passive voice) • Use precise nouns, adjectives, and adverbs to make your ideas stand out.
Being Verb: The gravel road is on the right side of the barn.Action Verb: The gravel road curls around the right side of the barn.
Snow was on the leaves. The snow covered the leaves. (active) The leaves were covered by the snow. (passive)
Passive Voice: 1.Mistakes were made during the battle. 2. Lemon squares are loved by most children. 3. Strange noises were heard through the wall. Active Voice: 1.___________________________________ 2. ___________________________________ 3. ___________________________________
Action Verbs Painted by Annie Dillard A baseball weightedyour hand just so, and fit it. Its red stitches, its good leather and hardness like skin over bone, seemed to call forth a skill both easy and precise. On the catch---the grounder, the fly, the line drive---you could snag a baseball in your mitt, where it stayed, snap, like a mouse locked in its trap, not like some pumpkin of a softball you merely halted, with a terrible sound like a splat. You could curl your fingers around a baseball, and throw it in a straight line. When you hit it with a bat, it cracked---and your heart cracked, too, at the sound. It took a grass stain nicely, stayed round and smelled good and lived lashed in your mitt all winter, hibernating. --- An American Childhood by Annie Dillard
Long before the first rays of the sun proclaimed yet another brilliant day on the Monterey Peninsula, Ted lay awake thinking about the weeks ahead. The courtroom. The defendant's table where he would sit, feeling the eyes of the spectators on him, trying to get a sense of the impact of the testimony on the jurors. The verdict: Guilty of Murder in the Second Degree. Why Second Degree? he had asked his first lawyer. "Because in New York State, First Degree is reserved for killing a peace officer. For what it's worth, it amounts to about the same, as far as sentencing goes." Life, he told himself. A life in prison. (167) --- Weep No More My Lady by Mary Higgins Clark