Friday, September 29, 2006

Second Chances

Now that I'm revising my manuscript, it's like being given a second chance to blossom. So, I'm trying to make the most of the opportunity. I'm especially trying to look at things with poet laureate Ted Kooser's advice in mind. For instance, he gives very compelling reasons for people like you and me to limit unnecessary adjectives. Here's what he says...

"It is a rare instance in which you'd need to write 'white snow' because in almost everybody's mind snow is rarely need to write 'green leaves' because most of us immediately think of green leaves when the word 'leaves' appears. The same is true of 'blue sky' or 'red apple.' And so on. Try to give your reader credit for being able to supply at least some of the description. And as to adverbs, if you use the word 'creep' there's no point, is there, in writing 'creeping slowly'? Creeping is slow."

Gosh, that is good advice. Now, if I can just make the most of my second chance with it in mind, that'd be good enough for good as a cup of hot brown tea. Tee hee hee.

(Okay, you caught me...that final bit breaks all the rules of Kooser's good sense. But I trust you'll give me a second chance! :)

The Poetry Home Repair Manual, by Ted Kooser

Photograph by Gail Nadeau. Used with permission.


Blogger Jennifer said...

Great things to think about. I've been trying to look at my words more carefully, so this is timely advice.

11:21 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

I love blogging, it allows us to meet people we probably wouldn't otherwise. Thanks for your advice and kind wishes! Take care :)

12:38 PM  
Blogger CE Grand said...

You know I'm not so sure about that. Sometimes when you talk about leaves being green it allows you the persuasion of a crisp, full alive green. When you use the description green with leaves it makes the leaves seem alive and healthy, it makes them seem vibrant and natural. Remeber there are no rules in poetry and there is no graph upon which we can show the overall effectiveness of a poem. Perhaps this famous laureatte was merely in a good deal of oppostition to redundancy. Write what you feel.

7:24 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Jennifer... good luck with word crafting. What a challenge and a joy!

Stephanie... good to meet you too.

CE... thanks for the encouragement. It's good to know you'd be satisfied with the unedited L.L. Barkat... my publisher, on the other hand, well... I'm sure you get the idea. :)

8:34 PM  
Blogger Becky Vartabedian said...

Kooser's advice sounds a good deal like my trusty reliance on Strunk & White's Rule #17: Omit Needless Words. In my first year of Seminary, I committed myself to applying one of S & W's rules (#17) to my writing for an entire semester. By the end of that time, my writing had improved tenfold. Of course, in my case it was the problem of really overwriting and not having any faith in my reader.

Over the last few years I've come to enjoy the revision process for what it is: a chance to improve and address your own writing "mishaps" (or triumphs!) on your own terms. I'm not sure how this works in the world of manuscripts (my first one will be coming along soon), but in the world of academic essays it's an opportunity to add focus and creativity to what could be frighteningly staid.

11:56 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Becky V...Oh, do tell us about your manuscript!

1:09 PM  
Blogger eph2810 said...

This is truly great advise :). Thank you for sharing it. I might be able use that on my blog-writings. :)
Be blessed today and always.

1:16 PM  
Blogger Martin Stickland said...

Yes, you are an artist with your wonderful words.

Just visited your web site and loved your poems, so talented!

Bye for now and keep up the good work.

Kind Regards


6:03 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Martin... and you are kind with Your Words! Thanks for the encouragement.

8:39 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

This is the lesson I've been having to learn - a hard lesson for an adjective-happy girl.

10:24 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Heather... my guess is you could still take joy in adjectives... just not the ones that readers automatically supply on encountering the noun. As Kooser implies, there are very few of us who think "green snow" when we hear the noun "snow"... so why bother the reader with "white"?

This, of course, is one of the reasons I find writing to be such a challenge. It means going beyond the obvious, and that takes extra work.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Christianne said...

L.L. Barkat,

Thanks for your comment on my blog today about Severe Mercy.

I checked out your profile and saw that you love the movie Wit. Emma Thompson's one of my fave actors, and I've been meaning to watch this one for a long time. With your recommendation of it, I may finally take the plunge!

I loved your thoughts on peacocks, along with the pictures and O'Connor story. I also, being a writing fiend, love the quote by Kooser.

What manuscript are you working to revise right now?

5:41 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Christianne, thanks for stopping by... oh, yes, do watch Wit... it is very unusual, yet so moving.

I'm revising a book that's under contract with InterVarsity Press, currently called Secrets in Stone: finding grace in hard & hidden places.

It's a combination of memoir and spiritual musing... and, if you're interested in more details, feel free to check out my regular site... the "How I Got a Book Deal..." article.

Have you read the Kooser book? Excellent, excellent!

7:40 PM  
Blogger Christianne said...

Um, that books sounds like one I would buy on pre-sale. So funny . . . just last night, my hubby, Kirk, and I were talking about what matters most about church, specifically in the time in which we live, with so many movements away from traditional forms of it.

I told Kirk that what matters most to me in loving people and praying for them is the "grace found in ordinary moments." The mundane details kind of stuff, where God's glory suddenly shows up.

I mentioned something like this to him when we started courting, in response to a question that went something like, "What are the common themes among all your favorite books and movies?" I also put "Finding grace in ordinary moments" as one of my favorite things on my blogger profile.

All this to say that I can't wait until your book comes out. I'm going to check out your other website -- can't wait to read it, too! And, congratulations on getting a book deal. I'm a writer, so I know how hard that is. I'm also an editor for a book publishing company, so I know the "other side" of it, too.

3:36 PM  
Blogger Christianne said...

Oh, and I forgot to mention that I have not read the Kooser book. Yours was the first mention of it that I've ever heard

3:37 PM  

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