Monday, May 05, 2008

Plain Song


Matinee sur la Seine,
Claude Monet, 1897,
oil on canvas.


Morning has broken,
like the first morning.
Blackbird is singing,
like the first bird.
. . .
Morning has broken,
Straight from the hills.


The history of the song from whence comes this partial verse can be found here.

These lines individually demonstrate, imho, the advice on paragraphs proffered recently by ever-acute edittorrent -- that is, one should strive to end paragraphs with (1) a word which indicates contrast, conflict or tension ( broken); (2) a word which creates a concrete image ( bird); or, (3) a word of perennial evocative power ( the hills.)

I was particularly pleased to see the last suggestion.

Too often, writers are chivied into thinking they must replace/avoid plain, solid words with deviant synonyms.

As edittorrent points out, the word run/ran can sometimes convey more drama by its stark, gut simplicity, than any hasten, hurry, speed, fly, sprint, dash, drive, hustle, etc.

Checking paragraphs for that final, effective word is probably the easiest revision one can make to an MS.


Trollish Thoughts:

If you think there's good in everyone -- you haven't met everyone.

If you can smile when things go wrong, you have someone in mind to blame.

The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.


25 comments:

StarvingWriteNow said...

I love that song--and thank goodness I do, because it will be playing in my head all day long now! I agree about the synonym use; I get tired of reading sixteen different versions of "run" or "said" in a book.

Happy morning!

BernardL said...

Plain and solid is good.

'If you think there's good in everyone -- you haven't met everyone.'

One of my favorite trollish thoughts. :)

Bernita said...

It's an earwig, isn't it, WriteNow!

Bernard, you're a fellow cynic.

ChrisEldin said...

LOL! I like the trollish thought about blaming someone. See that look all the time on Thing 1 and Thing 2.

The painting is absolutely beautiful. It suits the song perfectly.
(now I'm looking at all my ending words. Guess ending on an adjective/adverb isn't good?)

:-)

Bernita said...

Depends, Chris. Consistently ending a para that way might not be good.

Jaye Wells said...

I usually go back through on my final editing pass and look for opportunities to back load sentences. It's so simple, but had never occurred to me before I found out how often the masters do it.

Bernita said...

Right, Jaye, has to be one of revision's easiest fixes.

Robyn said...

The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.

Story of my life.

At times I'd rather read about looking instead of gazing. Lot of roving gazes out there.

Bernita said...

"At times I'd rather read about looking instead of gazing."
So right, Robyn!
Peered, peeped,and other alternatives soon wear out as well.

bookfraud said...

strong, straightforward nouns and verbs are usually more powerful than the cheap synonym or the $2 substitute. the same thing goes for "said" vs. "exclaimed," "stated," etc. the dialog itself should have enough drama to carry the day.

can i steal your trollish thoughts? i wish i had thought of them myself. especially about good in everyone.

Rick said...

I'm reminded of Alice Roosevelt Longworth (I believe), who said "If you don't have a good word to say about someone, come sit here next to me."

I never even thought about paragraph-ending words before - one more thing to ponder come revision time! Of course I do need to finish the first draft first.

Bernita said...

Feel free, Book. They aren't "mine" - from one of those perennial joke e-mails.
Here's another for you.Use it well.
"The sole purpose of a child's middle name is so he can tell when he's really in trouble."

Rick, that is a lovely thought.

Ric said...

I have to run to the store to buy milk.
I have to scurry to the store to purchase milk.

Clearly, as you point out, since the action doesn't (I assume) promote the plot line, (unless you are a mouse), simpler is better.

Back in the day, that song was on the first cassette tape I bought for a new car equipped with player. Know it well. Thanks for the memory.

Gabriele C. said...

The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.

Boy, is that ever true.

cindy said...

haha! i love the trollish thoughts to start a monday morning. gurg!

Bernita said...

A lovely, simple song, Ric.

Isn't it just, Gabriele!

Laugh lines don't hurt, Cindy.

Charles Gramlich said...

Your trollish thoughts are a fount of wisdom. You're absolutely right. Sometimes "run" and words like that are better than all the alternatives you can shake a stick at.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Charles.
Not mine -just passing it on.

spyscribbler said...

Wow. I'm going to pull out my manuscript tomorrow and see what I'm doing in the last word of my paragraphs.

A great tip, thanks!

raine said...

Checking for the last word. Have never thought of it. Thanks for sharing.
And yes, I get tired of the watered-down synonyms sometimes too.
Thank you for the Monet. Gorgeous.

Sam said...

That song is so lovely - it was my gradmother's favorite and they played it at her funeral. Of course, now no one in the family can hear it without getting teary-eyed.
:-)

Bernita said...

Edittorrent has more good stuff, Natasha.

Some paintings place one just at the edge of the frame, Raine.

Certain songs do that to me too, Sam.

Ello said...

Ooooh I love those trollish thoughts! I think I have been on the same wavelength as you Bernita!

Bernita said...

~grins evilly and high fives Ello~

Anonymous said...

nice thoughts, bernita. And Edit Torrent has more paragraph thoughts today, too.

writtenwyrdd