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Slice of Life March Challenge. No. 28.

Backstory of yesterday and today’s posts.

Last year, during #SOL16, I revised a draft about a childhood memory, a first grade memory, “The Day My Teacher Died.” The next day I wrote about how I revised that writing; that post is called “The Marmalade Cat.”  When I signed up for #SOL17, I thought I’d like to do two posts similar to that again. So, yesterday, I revised and published a short memory piece about my mother-in-law  — “Without Words.”  And today I am sharing notes about my craft moves.

Before I share, lest my notes about my crafting make the writing seem easy and sequential, a single-day accomplishment, I must assure you it was not. During the real time moment, sitting in the back seat of the car, I scratch some notes on an envelope. I stuffed the envelope into the back of my bullet journal. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do anything else with it.  Some time later, as I read those notes, I decided to draft a couple paragraphs. For two years, I would pick at it — change a word, add something, strike something out, take a different approach — never really planning to complete it. I think I was working through the anguish I felt for my mother-in-law. I think the writing lessened the ache in my heart. My last draft was written a couple years ago, shortly after my mother-in-law passed away.

Writing about my writing.

When I finish writing, I often jot down notes about my writing, about my thinking. As a teacher, I have found inspiration in looking back at my writing and at my thinking about that writing. And it can be a valuable resource in the classroom. The pages below provide a peek into my thinking as I crafted my way to the final draft of “Without Words.” I did not keep record of the sequence of the revisions. I wish I would have and that I would have kept some of the other drafts.

Object Placement and Bookending.
I used of the phrase “without words” as the title and as the ending line. I also made reference to the idea at the end of the first part: “I can no longer speak.” Using an object or phrase near the beginning and again near the end of a piece is a craft move I call object placement.  The object or phrase may be very significant to the story, or it may be simply a piece of incidental information. But it usually is not directly mentioned anywhere else in the piece. Effective use of this move will tie the story together. A good example of this craft move is “Great Joy” by Kate Dicamillo: Great Joy is the book title and it is a phrase spoken by the main character at the end of the story. When the object or phrase is placed at the very beginning and at the very end, as it is in “Without Words,” it is referred to as bookending.

Copy 1: Highlighting word choices, showing how parts tie together, and sharing insight into my thinking via margin notes.

Copy 2: Identifying the use of the power of three (another craft move), and underlining my two favorite slices of text.

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for hosting
2017 Slice of Life Story Challenge