Chapter
Materials

Responses to Common Questions:
Identifying Craft

Here Elizabeth discusses the craft of writing—how the author is writing, rather than what they wrote about.

 

 

Journal Exercise

Identify one thing you notice from these two pieces about the craft of writing.  By craft, I mean how the author is writing, not what they wrote about.  You might have been struck by how Al-Rawi’s prose is powerful because it’s so simple, or how she describes what was happening externally as well as her internal responses.  You might note Doyle’s use of dialogue, or how he moves back and forth between scene and reflection.  Elizabeth notes Doyle’s alphabetical list as an example:

“bamboo, beetles, blackberry, carrots, dockweed, cedars, camellias, dandelions, garlic, hawthorn, jays, moles, shrews, slugs, snails, spiders, squirrels”

Upon reading this aloud, Elizabeth noticed the cacophony of sounds as well as the alliteration—the repetition of similar sounds at the beginnings of words—which add up to a strange music.  The list is both busy and musical, so the sounds of the sentence conjure a busy, beautiful garden.

 

Reflect on one example. What did you notice about this craft technique? How did the author’s choice here affect you as a reader?

 

 

Responses to Common Questions:
Writing as Contemplation

New writers tend to think of details as extraneous, but in fact the details of our lives hold meaning.  Any moment can be a window into a bigger picture.

Elizabeth reflects on the use of details in Brian Doyle’s essay.

 

Readings

 

  • Reading 1: Excerpt from Grandmother's Secrets by Rosina-Fawzia Al-Rawi
  • Reading 2: Eating Dirt by Brian Doyle