Thursday, August 12, 2010

Language Play

To all my bloggy buddies: please forgive my absence this week. The 24-year-old daughter (an identical twin) of my best friend died suddenly in her sleep on Saturday. It has been incredibly difficult for everyone. Writing this post is a bit of fairy dust to brighten my day.
"Stay alive, refreshed in language! Listen to little toddlers bopping metaphors around the room like balloons. Let language zip and lean, sound can lead you, be surprised as you are writing. I play with words every day and I am going to play right now. It takes me where I need to go, into the real content, and into the serious hard places, too. Experimenting means anything goes. We need to keep doing that on our pages if they are to keep glittering and waking us up."
~ Naomi Shihab Nye



My favorite writing guru, Ralph Fletcher (you should remember him from past posts), has written a new book for writers and teachers of young writers. Pyrotechnics on the Page: Playful Craft that Sparks Writing is a wonderful new book - I love it. I'm currently devouring it. It is doubly beneficial to me because I not only write, but also teach high school composition and poetry.

This most recent book is all about "playing" with our writing. According to Ralph, "Skilled writers do not always follow the shortest route between themselves and their meaning. Rather, they often deliberately play with language along the way."

Some examples of language play include:

  • puns and double meanings
  • invented words
  • allusions
  • expressions and idioms
  • metaphors and similes
  • hyperbole
  • onomatopoeia
  • alliteration
as well as:
  • sentences that break the rules
  • "reversible raincoat" sentences
  • very short sentences
  • sentences that use a 3-2-1 (or 1-2-3) cadence
Here is an example (provided by Ralph at the beginning of chapter 2) of unexpected language use:

Three-year-old girl on a tricycle, talking to her father on a park bench:

"You stay with your sun, Daddy. I'll ride with my wind."


Do you have a favorite strategy or way you like to "play" with language?

31 comments:

Diane said...

I am so sorry for your friend and everyone that knew her. Very sad and heartbreaking. Prayers and hugs going out.

Mason Canyon said...

So sorry to hear of your friend's passing. Keeping you and her family in my thoughts and prayers.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

DL Hammons said...

I'm so sorry for your friend...and you. You all will be in my thoughts today.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I'm so terribly sorry for your friend and her family and for you. My thoughts are with you.

Patti Lacy said...

Shannon, oh, my heart grieves for you and your friend.

How wonderful that you glittered sorrow with words.

A born writer.

Patti
www.pattilacy.com/blog

Heidi Willis said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. This has happened to two of my friends this year... what tragedy!

Interestingly, I just finished a post this morning on being grateful for just being alive.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your friend.

Erica Mitchell-Spickard said...

My thoughts and prayers are with you and the family and friends, sending my love. Very sorry to hear this news.
I honestly can't think of a play on words at the moment but if I do I'll let ya know ;)
((hugs))

Leah (aka Mary_not_Martha) said...

So sorry to hear about your friend Shannon. What a shock it must be. All your bloggy friends will be thinking about you and your friend today.Prayers

Jaydee Morgan said...

Sorry to hear that kind of news. Thoughts and prayers to you, your friend and her family.

Susanne Drazic said...

So sorry to hear such sad news. You, your friend and the family are in my thoughts and prayers.

K. Harrington said...

Sorry for your friend and your loss. Prayers to all of you.

I like the Nye quote that speaks to being "refreshed in language." Words can be a balm.

Mary Aalgaard said...

I like made up words. Using sound and rhythm, like describing music.

I'm so sad for you, your friend, and her family.

Tahereh said...

oh shannon. my thoughts and prayers are with you and yours.

im sending you the biggest hugs.

thank you for your spot of sunshine.

so much love to you! <33

Shelley Sly said...

I am praying for you and your friend's family. I'm so sorry...

Carolyn V. said...

I love word play. There is a song the uses a word with two meanings. That is so clever! =)

Terri Tiffany said...

I am so so sorry for your friend:(
I have always believed that there is a rhythem to our sentences and so it is nice to see it written like this.

Lenny said...

hi miss shannon! its real hard when someone you love leaves you specially when its real sudden. im feeling real sad for you and for your friend cause i know it gonna be real hard to deal out. im gonna say some nice prayers for you and her. my doctor says loving kindness and prayers help heal.
...hugs from lenny

Deb Salisbury said...

Hugs to you, yours, and her family. So very sad.

Karen Lange said...

I am so sorry to hear about this. Will be praying for the family and their friends.

February Grace said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Your family and your friend's will be in my thoughts.

Thank you for a beautiful post reminding us why we love to write to begin with- because we love words.

~bru

Terresa said...

My heart is with you and your best friend & her family. 24 is very young...

PS: My fave way to play with language is to listen to my children, how they use words any which way, clever, unabashed, words like song.

Jennie Englund said...

Shannon, you and your friend are in my heart.

I'm sorry.

Thank you for the word play tips. I had to look up a couple, including "reversible raincoat." Found an example under a political speech-writing page: Clinton: "We must never negotiate out of fear but we must never fear to negotiate."

Steph Damore said...

Prayers to you and your family and friends.

As for language play: I like to mess around with words until they sound right. Usually it's a form of assonance that I just can't help but love.

PJ Hoover said...

Definitely sending prayers to everyone. What sadness.

Bethany Mattingly said...

So sorry about the loss :(. I'm keeping everyone on my thoughts.

Catherine A. Winn said...

I'm so sorry about the death of your best friend's daughter. Let her know people she's never met are praying for her and her family. Also for you, I know it's tough seeing your best friend going through this devastating time.

Jen said...

I'm so sorry for your friends loss and all those who deeply loved her. They are all in my thoughts and prayers. These are some of the hardest times.

Reminder - Guess that Character Blogfest is this Thursday and Friday! Look forward to describing your character!

Vicki Rocho said...

How tragic. I'm so sorry for you and your friend's family.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

So very sorry for the loss of your friend, Shannon. Such a tragic thing to occur. *Hugs*

Natalie said...

I'm so sorry about your friends daughter. It's always difficult to lose people who are so young. She will be in my thoughts today.

I love very short sentences, and very short paragraphs too.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Shannon, I'm so sorry to hear about your friend's daughter. Please know you and her family are in my prayers.

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