On Tuesday, I talked about how I associate certain genres or periods of music with certain events in my life. For example, I noted that "grunge" will forever define the first few years of college for me. But within that larger period of time, certain bands or albums take on additional significance and, rather than representing events, they seem more representative of the stages of my life.
Today's lesson asks you to use a song that evokes a certain age or stage of your life: college, childhood, newlywed, new parent, empty nester, etc.
GENERAL WRITING TIPS:
I have a number of small tips to share with you today. Although there are many things you can do during the prewriting and organizing stages to make your writing more effective, there are a number of easy techniques you can implement during the actual writing process as well that can really make your writing shine.
- Use strong verbs and nouns. The verbs are the action words -- they do all the work in a sentence and put things in motion. Nouns are persons, places, things, and ideas. The English language consists of multiple words that mean the same thing. By choosing the most specific noun you can, you create additional layers of meaning without adding additional words. For example, write "The pine bent in the wind" instead of "The tree bent in the wind". Simple changes like this add a level of detail that's easy to achieve.
- Don't overuse adverbs and adjectives. If you are using strong verbs and nouns, you don't need additional descriptive words (adverbs modify verbs and usually end in -ly, while adjectives modify nouns and pronouns). Instead of saying "The tall, tanned boy ran quickly to the store", replace it with something like "The surfer raced to the store." The noun "surfer" conjures up an image of a tall tan boy, while "raced" implies running quickly but adds a level of haste and possibly danger to the meaning.
- Use active voice. With active voice, the action is being done BY someone or something, rather than TO someone or something. That can be confusing until you look at these examples. If I say "The boy kicked the ball," then the main focus of the sentence -- the boy -- is shown IN ACTION. He's making something happen. But if I say "The ball was kicked by the boy," then the action is happening to someone or something and the reader feels less involved. Active voice is stronger and moves the action along, while passive voice just sits back and lets things happen.
- Use parallel structure. Putting the details of your writing in a series that follows a certain pattern helps your reader make better sense of what you're saying. Parallelism is where the items in a series all follow the same grammatical format. For example, if you are listing three activities that you are doing, you want the verb forms to all look the same: running, jumping, laughing, playing, singing. Notice how they all end with -ing? But if I were to write "My daughter loves running, jumping, and to play" that last item really throws you off. It's jarring and confusing.
There are many ways to go about the next steps -- I'll leave that up to you. But here are the basics: you need to choose a song that takes you back to a particular place and time in your life and then use the song's title and/or lyrics to help you make connections among the details you use to set the scene and the lessons you can take away from that age. This is one of those instances where you'll want to choose your details carefully and build them in a way that moves you from a general depiction of a particular age or stage in your life to how that stage/age helped form you into the person you are today. We're digging deeper with this prompt, using lots of specific details to encourage more self-reflection.
As you begin your journaling, you'll again want to think about how you are going to organize this information. We've discussed a number of organizational styles over the past couple of days, but with the focus of today's journaling lesson, it makes the most sense for the last paragraph or part of your journaling to be the one that packs the most emotional punch. When you organize in this manner, then you build toward a climax, which keeps your reader engaged and wanting to find out more.
One of the key components of building climax is conflict. Conflict is defined as a struggle arising from two opposing forces. In simple terms, a conflict occurs when you have two things that you want, but you can only get one. Overcoming conflict is what brings fiction stories to a resolution; in real life, overcoming conflict is how we learn lessons and grow as individuals. As you work on your journaling for this lesson, try to identify the forces (there may be more than two) that are creating conflict for you. What have you learned from the decisions you had to make?DESIGN:
This is a perfect opportunity to use the album art as a jumping-off point for your page design. For each lesson, I'll give you the option to focus on one component of the album art. Today, we'll be focusing on the COLORS used on the album cover.
credits: sweet + tart collab by Paislee Press and Leora Sanford Designs, Winterberry by Audacious Designs (journal strips), A New Leaf collab by Paislee Press and Audacious Designs (leaves)
I chose to combine lyrics from two different songs: "This Time of Year" and "Cry in the Sun" from the Deluxe album by Better Than Ezra. I was in college the first time I heard this album, and for me it's come to symbolize not just the freedom and endless possibility that seemed to exist at that time (when I felt like I could "rule the world if I wanted to, yeah") but also the beginning of my relationship with Chris. My life was getting ready to turn upside down in so many ways -- ways that changed me forever as a person -- and those late summer and early fall evenings seem to hold on both my innocence and my growing up in equal measure.