Writing Is Hard Work!

Friday, April 13th, 2018     Marie Sontag     Start the Conversation

‘ve always had a dream to write. Now I get to do it full time. But I had no idea it was such HARD work! Here are two examples – learning how to use conduplicatio and alliteration to create compelling cadences.

Let me back up. I met Margie Lawson, an amazing writing coach, at a conference last September. She invited me to her “immersion” class May 6-10 – an intensive writing workshop with a small group of writers that also includes one-on-one time with her. Just one problem – or two or three. The class was full. It cost more money than we had. I was committed to caring for my wonderful grandson two days a week after preschool.

God amazingly solved all three problems. Well, still working on a solution to the third. My current WIP (author lingo for “work in progress”) is a YA historical fiction novel about an orphan teen working with his guardian (Jim Savage) in the goldfields from 1848-1851. This novel just “happens” to take place in Yosemite. In case you missed it, that’s where my intensive class with Margie takes place in a few weeks.  Jim, a historical figure, leads a battalion into Yosemite to rout out the Ahwahneechee because of mortal conflicts between miners and Indians  I’ve completed almost two-thirds of the novel.

To help prepare for our intensive workshop, attendees are required to take three of Margie’s online classes. Currently, I’m completing the third class that, among others things, teaches the use “rhetorical devices” to create compelling cadences. One rhetorical device I’ve learned is conduplicatio“. After much word wrangling, here’s a “before and after” example I recently crafted that employs this technique:

Before: “Daniel turned to see his old friend, Dr. Arnold, walk through the wide hotel door. He rushed to the elderly man’s side and grasped his warm hand.”

After: “Entering the hotel was Dr. Arnold, his old friend from the wagon train. His old friend who had taken him in when he first arrived in California. His old friend whom he had abandoned to run off with Jim to the goldfields.”

The idea behind creating compelling cadences is to increase the emotional punch of a scene. Here’s another “before and after” example I recently pulled together after several days of turning the words over in my mind, rearranging them, finding new words, then rearranging them again. This example includes conduplicatio, alliteration, and sequencing from general to specific:

Before: “…a flood of emotions washed over him. Emotions that threatened to break through his dam of denial. A dam that, for too long, had kept deep emotions at bay.”

After: “…a flood of emotions washed over him. He missed not having a place to call home. People to call a family. Parents to call Ma and Pa.”

Who knew writing was such hard work? I’m so excited to take this class as I continue to improve my craft! (And finish my novel!)

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