We came, we saw, we measured—twice. We cut 10% of the excess—once. We twisted our opening lines to create grammatical tension. We have arrived. It’s Week 4 of the Writer’s Workshop, and that means it’s time to step back and celebrate our hard work. Next week, I will be back with some fresh points to ponder and a new writing prompt. Until then…
My #1 Writing Tip:
I am taking two writing seminars online, Advanced Grammar and Academic Writing, to help me prepare for entry in a Creative Writing MFA. Today, in the grammar class, I had the opportunity to interact with a classmate from the Middle East who is taking the class for a business promotion. He told me that he had mastered verbal English but struggled with his writing. I shared the best tip for writing that I have ever received and suggested that he read his work out loud, an idea given to me by a famous writer a few years ago.
In my opinion, the best tool you have for discovering your writer’s voice (and uncovering your mistakes or awkward, unclear phrasing) IS your voice. I read most of what I write out loud before I hit the publish key. Sometimes, I ask one of my children to read a piece for me. I encourage you, if you don’t already, to give it a try.
Congratulations to everyone who participated in this first Writer’s Workshop. If you haven’t yet and are thinking about it, please jump in and join us next week.
For today, I present our Writer’s Workshop I creative talent:
Sarah’s Measure Twice, Cut Once III
Ian’s Nathan – Version 2 (Note: Ian’s new opening line: In stark contrast to the evening’s events, countless stars hung peacefully in the black night.)
Christine’s Shopping Trip
Angela’s Measure Once, Cut Twice
Manja’s Clip cloppity clop (Links to her first and second revisions and contains some interesting debate on whether all that editing causes a loss of the writer’s voice or not. As I commented there, for me, this depends on the audience you are writing for. Getting published is about playing to “strangers” (and appealing to editors). Most of us have blog followings of people who love our work as it is. The two audiences are not the same.
Stephen’s “Cut Me, Mick, Cut Me!” (where he cut the words: nonetheless and thus and didn’t tell us that the question was rhetorical but allowed it to stand on its own. Showing is more powerful than telling.)
RedCat’s The Seamstress
And this poem from Jane Tims:
With this version, I have made the punctuation consistent (I usually use very little punctuation in my poems), eliminated some repeated words (for example, ‘men’ in the first stanza), written some ideas to be more clear (I think the idea of XXVI beside XXVI is clearer), and created some regularity in the stanzas (now in the pattern 5,3,5,3,5,3,5,3 etc.).
measure twice, cut once
slogan of careful men
who raised these covered bridges
posts and beams
shaped and joined
carpenters and labourers
cut every rafter
to fit, position precise
laid on the ground
and so on
over the river
laid as prescribed
side by side, XXVI beside XXVI
chords, struts, braces and posts
Howe truss braces
and counter braces
making ‘m’s and ‘w’s
and diamonds, timbers
and metal tension bars
built with a camber
to take the downward weight
of the bridge as it settles
bridge done, and a herd
to test sturdiness
to read a sign
The French Village Covered Bridge (Hammond River Covered Bridge #2) was built in 1912 and removed in 2017 after a13-tonne excavator dropped through the decking of the bridge in October 2016. The excavator, loaded with 3.7 tonnes of wood, exceeded the 12 tonne maximum posted for the bridge.