Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tips from a Funny Book Character

Have you heard of Jane Harrington? Check out who she is HERE. She's pretty funny, and I bet you'll enjoy meeting her and learning about her books.

Jane has this cool part of her website called yeah, right, where she offers really terrific writing tips written from the point of view of Lucy, a character in her book, LUCY'S COMPLETELY COOL AND TOTALLY TRUE E-JOURNAL (Scholastic), a national bestseller.

Here's an excerpt:

Use ALLITERATION. I know that sounds like something fancy, and HARD, but it's NOT. Alliteration is just the use of words with the same letter at the beginning. For instance, I would say that the E-Journal I have been writing lately has some exceptionally embarrassing stuff in it (usually involving the TWINS). The words "exceptionally embarrassing" both start with "e". (Duh!) Want another example? The things happening lately to my sister, Emma, are usually unlucky (but I don't always feel sorry for her, because she has been SO MEAN to Taylor and me). Alliteration is good if you use it here and there, but not a lot. It's kind of like sprinkles on ice cream. It adds a nice touch, but if you use too much, it tastes weird.

Don't forget to click on yeah, right to see the other writing tips Lucy has for you!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Please hurt my FEELINGS

Below is a very plain story with lots of “feelings.”  : )

Jan felt like winter was too long. “I want it to be summer," she said. "I feel like walking on the beach. I feel like collecting shells.”
Her brother, Stan, agreed. “I like how the sand feels. And the warm ocean always feels great, too.” 

Jan and Stan felt that the situation was hopeless. They didn’t feel like going outside in the snow, but decided there was nothing else to do.  They slipped on their snowsuits, boots, gloves, and hats, and headed out the door.  

“I feel chilly,” Jan said. “I don’t like the feeling of the wind on my cheeks. It hurts. When winter is over, I will feel better.” She picked up some snow, rolled it into a ball, and felt it forming into a ball. Then she threw it at Stan. 

“Hey!” Stan said. “I felt that!” He rolled a snowball and threw it back. 

Stan and Jan played in the snow. Both felt better. They almost forgot they didn’t like winter. 

Yes, our characters need to have feelings, but let’s not get crazy.  I often see the words:  FEEL and FELT in a story so much that it makes me FEEL dizzy. One way to fix this problem is to use the edit/find tab on your computer and search for these words. Then, ask yourself if you can reword some of the sentences to add better details.

Can you rewrite the story above without using the words FELT or FEELING? Here is my revision: 
“I don’t like winter,” Jan grumbled, staring out the window at the snow. “I want to walk on a warm beach and collect pretty seashells.” 

Her brother nodded, and said,  “I can’t wait to play volleyball on the soft sand. And I want to swim in the ocean and play in the wishy-washy waves.”

Jan and Stan read a few books and played a couple of board games. When they ran out of things to do, they pulled on their snowsuits, boots, scarves, and mittens, and went outside.  

Jan’s cheeks burned from the brisk, chilly wind. She kicked a snow drift. “Hrumph! I can’t wait for winter to be over.” She stooped down and made a snowball. She tossed it to Stan. 

“Ha! You missed! I bet I can get you!” Stan said, rolling a bigger snowball and throwing it in Jan’s direction. 

Jan and Stan had a fun snowball fight for over an hour. When done, they spotted an old sled, so they grabbed it and slid down the hill. At the bottom, they built an icy igloo and pretended to camp out.  

“Winter isn’t so bad,” Stan said, smiling. 

“You're right,” Jan said. “Let’s play outside again tomorrow!"

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Punctuation is Child's Play

Hey, here's a fun game! It's from Interactive Grammar Games.

Who knew grammar could be so much fun?

TRY IT HERE. (When you get to the site, scroll down to where you see TRY THIS. Don't bother clicking on the sponsored link to the right.)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Welcome Back!


HAPPY 2013!

Today is all about Nouns and Verbs.
Before I confuse you about how one can be the other, let's review:
A noun is a person, place, or thing. A verb shows action.

BUT, check out these nouns that are used as verbs:
We friend and unfriend people.
We message, blog, text, and bookmark.

All of this verbing (and yes, that's real word) is getting out of hand!
Can you think of some nouns that are now verbs? Make a list.
I will, too...
*taps fingers on keyboard*

On my list, I have a lot of technology terms, like those above. I also have nouns found in sports that have become verbs. For example, a skateboard was once just a thing; now we can skateboard. Same with snowboard, ski, and rollerblade.

English has a list of 150 Words Which are Both Verbs and Nouns. Take a sec and read them.
I'll wait...
*taps fingers on desk*

READY? Challenge yourself to come up with a funny, and perhaps confusing, poem using some of these words. Head straight to your desk and knock out some creative writing!