Once I watched the sun rise in the west.
The sun had barely set and dusk was descending when I boarded a commuter flight out of Portland. I was on my way to catch a cross-country red-eye out of Seattle. As we lifted into our takeoff, I leaned back, pushed up my window shade, and reveled in the contrasting beauty of the brilliantly painted horizon and soft tones of twilight beneath me.
Suddenly my window was filled with a blinding light. It was the sun! As we climbed, the sun rose higher and higher in the western sky. When we reached our cruising altitude, I watched the sun slowly sink below the horizon for a second time that day. It was 10 PM.
That was the evening I saw the sun rise in the west.
Which words in my last statement make it scientifically incorrect?
Writing about my writing
Why I chose this Slice of Life for today
Last weekend we changed our clocks (here’s my diatribe on that). That has caused me to pay closer than normal attention to sunrise, sunset, and daylight hours. And this weekend we experience the spring (vernal) equinox in the northern hemisphere, marking our first day of astronomical spring.
In my hometown, the equinox occurs today, Saturday, March 19, 2016, at precisely 9:30 PM PDT. When does it occurs in your hometown? Find your answer here.
In My Classroom
I’ve listed four things that I deliberately considered as I crafted my writing. These are crafting tools that I show students. For practice, I have students find them in mentor text. I do this by giving them a passage and asking, What do you notice? In small groups, they discuss the author’s use of crafting tools we’ve studied, i.e., word choice, grammatical structures, figures of speech, literary devices. Other times, I give them a passage (one I’ve simplified) and ask them to craft it using one or more of these tools. And finally, I ask them to find places in their own writing that need crafting.
- Using the power of three
In the third sentence, the predicate has three prongs: leaned back / pushed up / reveled in. By keeping the three actions (predicate verbs) in the same sentence, I convey a flow of movement rather than three separate actions.
- Varying sentence length
Sentences range from 9 words to 32 words, except for two which have 4 words. I used these two very short sentences to punch my main idea: “It was the sun.” “It was 10 PM”
- Using repetition and parallelism
“I saw the sun rise in the west” and “I watched the sun rise in the west” work as bookends, emphasizing what is impossible as if it were, indeed, fact, creating the tone.
- Making word choices: sun rise or sunrise and sun set or sunset
What is the difference and why choose one over the other? As separate words we have a noun and verb denoting action; pushed together, we have a compound noun. I chose sun rise because I am writing about the sun, not the sunrise. Also, I wanted to express action, the movement of the sun (actually the earth), so I needed the verb.
Which tool did you use to craft your Slice of Life today?
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A special thanks to Stacey, Tara, Dana, Betsy, Anna, Beth, Kathleen, and Deb for a place at Two Writing Teachers where teachers and others can share their stories each Tuesday throughout the year and every day during the month of March.
Interesting post. A treat to learn something and gain insight into our writing. Thanks
Not only did I find your slice very intriguing, I was really interested in the way you showed us how you would break it down for your students. I’d like to try something like this with one of my slices and share it with the class to help them see how I think as a writer. Thanks for the inspiration.
Thank you, Lori! I’d love to see what you do; I hope I don’t miss that slice. And you are welcome to use my piece with your students if it helps.
Fun piece, and thanks for the new-to-me website for time and date info! I looked at my post for today and noticed how staccato it sounds, just like punching in numbers on an adding machine. Apropos for doing taxes.
Chris, thank you for stopping by. I just read your slice for today, “Taxing Times.” Your observation about the staccato effect in your sentence construction and paragraphing is right on–data punching for taxes, and it creates a great tone in your piece.