The essay is inspired by the lavish descriptive language of Amy Tan’s “Rules of the Game,” in which you will practice the key principle in writing of Show, Don’t Tell.
What does that mean? Consider the difference between these two sentences:
1. “Inside, the butchers with their bloodstained white smocks deftly gutted the fish while customers cried out their orders and shouted, “Give me your freshest,” to which the butchers always protested, “All are freshest.”
2. Inside, butchers cut up fish while the customers shouted their orders.
Total difference, right? In the first sentence, Amy Tan appeals to our senses. We see the red blood on the white aprons, hear the Chinese/English, sense the frenetic energy of the shop. Her use of adverbs like “deftly,” verbs like “protested” and “gutted,” adjectives like “bloodstained,” take us into the experience. Like in a movie, we’re there in the shop with little Waverly.
The second sentence does not give descriptive, accurate detail, so we can’t see the interior of the shop, hear the voices of the customers, appreciate the skill of the butchers, etc. When we merely tell our readers about something with a bland sentence like, “Inside, butchers cut up fish while the customers shouted their orders,” we are conveying boring information only”.
Write about any place that remember vividly from the past where something meaningful happened . Using colorful, descriptive language, take us into the experience. Show us what learned, tell us a story, but do it by Showing, Not Telling.
Second essay (no more than 800 words, please)
second essay is inspired by the both the lavish descriptive language and deep emotional content of Donald Hall’s “Fathers Playing Catch with Sons.” Here we will continue to practice the key principle in writing of Show, Don’t Tell, and we will also begin to focus on the most important element of writing — having something worthwhile to say.
Your next assignment is inspired by “Fathers Playing Catch with Sons.”
Besides taking us into experience of that person, animal, community, or place on earth* (how many of us have lost beloved places in the landscape to development projects or pollution?) using potent descriptive language,
Memorials don’t just give us a factual record of the past. In fact, as we saw from Hall’s essay, facts aren’t really that important here. What memorials do is struggle to capture the essence, the unique beauty, the sheer irreparable loss, of something that has passed away. It is strongly tinged with nostalgia and grief, and be prepared — the writing of a memorial should crack open your own heart. You’ll need to open yourself enough to give us a strong depiction of the character of the one or thing that is no longer with us. It also has its rewards — memorials are our humble way to treasure and hold what we’ve loved in the present with us. Beware — communicate your meaning through vivid detail, not by telling us about how something felt.Draw the reader into experience. Do it by Showing, Not Telling.
Read Amy Tan’s The Rules of the Game, pgs. 124-129 in “We Are America” textbook. Answer the discussion questions, using well-developed reasoning and examples from the text to support to response.
1) Choose a few favorite scenes from “Rules of the Game.” What makes these scenes effective?
2) Waverly’s mother is an important force in her life. What is the dominant impression conveyed by her behavior and speech?
3) Locate passages that include speech or dialog between characters. Discuss why Tan might have included these passages.
4) In paragraph 2, Waverly’s mother advises her daughter: “‘Wise guy, he not go against wind.'” Then she quotes the Chinese proverb: “‘In Chinese we say, Come from South, blow with wind–poom!–North will follow. Strongest wind cannot be seen.” Examine paragraphs 1-4 carefully and decide how this advice applies to Waverly. Explain how this scene and the passage in paragraph 2 contribute to our understanding of the relationship between mother and daughter.
5) Reread the last exchange between Waverly and her mother at the end of paragraph 9, beginning with the sentence “One Day, as she struggled to weave a hard-toothed comb through my disobedient hair, I had a sly thought…” Write a one sentence summary of what happens next. What does this dialogue imply that is not stated directly? (Please answer it no more than 30 words)
6) Choose six unfamiliar words from the text, and use them in a sentence. (Please answer it no more than 30 words, including the those 6 words)
Read Donald Hall’s Fathers Playing Catch with Sons, pgs. 280-283 in “We Are America” textbook.
1) Answer the discussion questions on page 282-283, using well-developed reasoning and examples from the text to support your response.
2) Hall makes sophisticated use of metaphor and image in his essay. Interpret two of his metaphors, explaining what they mean.
The first is in paragraph six, “What matters is the clear and fine knowledge of this day as it happens now, permanently and repeatedly, on a deep layer of the personal Troy.” What is Troy, and what does it mean to have something happening there on a deep layer?
The second isn’t exactly a metaphor — it’s more a mind-bending image, where in paragraph 6 we suddenly soar off the planet and read: “The reality of 1929…does not matter, not to the memory of the living nor to the bones of the dead nor even to the fragmentary images of broken light from that day which wander light-years away in unrecoverable space.” How does the journey of light into the starry void have anything to do with memory? What’s the relationship, here? Explain.
Read Chapter 3 of ?We are America? textbook, ?a general refresher on the nuts and bolts of the writing process,? and do exercises 3j and 3k. （2 questions, but I don?t have my book with me so I?m not sure how many words is going to be.）
Read pages 1-34 and answer the following questions in depth.
1) What can the example of Roseto teach us that flies in the face of common wisdom?
2) Given Gladwell’s statement, “In Outliers I want to do for our understanding of success what Stewart Wolf did for our understanding of health,” how do you expect his approach to the issue of success will differ from our usual understanding?
3) What is the Matthew Effect, as described by Gladwell? How does it fly in the face of our usual beliefs about individualism and success?
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