3420 Sentences

In a small group, identify three sentences from the story that exemplify more than one technique.

  1. Quote the sentence.
  2. Answer the question “What two techniques does this single sentence use?” for each of the three sentences.
  3. Your answer should take the form of an assertion followed by the word “because” and an explanation.

For example, “She could hear Mister Lafkowitz talking—his words spun out in a silky, unintelligible hum.”

  1. This sentence characterizes Mister Lafkowitz because it describes his voice. Description is a common strategy for characterization
  2. This sentence creates an image because images are the results of the combination of sensory language and nouns: “words” are the noun here and “unintelligible hum” is an example of auditory sensory language.


Then, as an individual, draft three sentences of fiction that each use more than one strategy/technique.

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Only enjambment

Review pages 54 and 55 of Oliver’s A Poetry Handbook. Then, break the paragraph below into lines. Every line should be enjambed, with the exception of the last.

Mend the coat before you go out. Once we stood beside the shore. The chap slipped into the crowd and was lost. The rude laugh filled the empty room. Coax a young calf to drink from a bucket. Dill pickles are sour but taste fine. The third act was dull and tired the players. The pup jerked the leash as he saw a feline shape. A bowl of rice is free with chicken stew. The couch cover and hall drapes were blue. Sever the twine with a quick snip of the knife. These days a chicken leg is a rare dish. His wide grin earned many friends. The brown house was on fire to the attic. That guy is the writer of a few banned books. The horn of the car woke the sleeping cop. Her purse was full of useless trash. Kick the ball straight and follow through. The dark pot hung in the front closet. A shower of dirt fell from the hot pipes. Screw the round cap on as tight as needed. He lent his coat to the tall gaunt stranger. Her purse was full of useless trash. He carved a head from the round block of marble. Bottles hold four kinds of rum. Hoist the load to your left shoulder. The fruit peel was cut in thick slices. The fight will end in just six minutes. Cut the cord that binds the box tightly. Soap can wash most dirt away.

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2250 Workshop 29Aug18

Here are a few poems for us to talk about.

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2250 Donald Barthelme’s “Not-knowing”

How much do you need to plan a short story before you begin writing it? Consider Donald Barthelme’s essay “Not-knowing.”

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2250 Margot Livesey’s “How to Tell a True Story”

We’ve been talking about autobiography and fiction in class. Charles Baxter and Peter Turchi’s Bringing the Devil to His Knees includes Margot Livesey’s essay, which is closely related to our conversation.

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Starting fiction

From David Starkey’s excellent Creative Writing, these are some strategies for starting a story.

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2250 Figurative language and extended metaphors

First, from David Starkey’s Creative Writing,

I.A. Richards coined the terms tenor for the subject to which a metaphor is applied and vehicle for the metaphoric term itself. If we say, to borrow an example from Aristotle’s Rhetoric, that a warrior was a lion in battle, the tenor of the metaphor is the warrior; the vehicle is the lion. As Ted Kooser says, “If you think of a metaphor as being a bridge between two things, it’s not the things that are of the most importance, but the grace and lift of the bridge between them, flying high over the surface.” The bridge between the tenor and the vehicle is most fitting when the connection between the thing being described and what it is being compared to is both unexpected and somehow fitting.

Second, three examples of poems as extended metaphors:

From The Beginning of September by Robert Hass



The insides of peaches

are the color of sunrise


The outsides of plums

are the color of dusk





Hope is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickenson


Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune – without the words,

And never stops at all,


And sweetest in the gale is heard;

And sore must be the storm

That could abash the little bird

That kept so many warm.


I’ve heard it in the chilliest land,

And on the strangest sea;

Yet, never, in extremity,

It asked a crumb of me.





Habitation by Margaret Atwood


Marriage is not

a house or even a tent


it is before that, and colder:


the edge of the forest, the edge

of the desert

the unpainted stairs

at the back where we squat

outside, eating popcorn


the edge of the receding glacier


where painfully and with wonder

at having survived even

this far


we are learning to make fire


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