Friday, January 27, 2012

Significant Detail, and Cinnamon Rolls

     A couple weeks ago, I posted on The Importance of Clarity in writing. Another way to give your writing impact is to use good significant detail. Here's a great quote from the famous "little book of style."
"The Greatest writers...are effective largely because they deal in particulars and report details that matter. Their words call up pictures." -William Strunk Jr., The Elements of Style.
    The above quote tells a very important message: good writers report only the significant details, the ones that will give the reader a picture in their minds. They should also suggest some truth the subject. That's what makes them significant. This way, the images pack more powerful punches. People will understand exactly what we mean.
     Lets aim to call up pictures with our words. When I describe something in my writing, I have to be careful not to just list things about it. Here's an example:
The original: "He still grins confidently, but a blush creeps over his cheeks."
     We get that the subject is embarrassed. Alright, that's fine.
The revised version: "He still grins, but his face tinges pink slightly, like my favorite flavor of jolly rancher--watermelon."
     Which example creates a clearer picture? This detail is significant as well, because it suggests that the narrator likes the image. It gives us a picture and interiority. In the first example, the writing doesn't convey that.
     I hope the quote and my examples shed some light on what I mean!
    Also, the bread-making class at the library was fantastic. Thirty-eight adults and teens learned how to make three different kinds of bread from our lovely teacher Amy!
White bread to knead. We also made a wheat bread to knead and a kneadless wheat bread.
     Five kids whacked some dough around during the class. It looked way more fun than playing DS Giga-Cool, or whatever.
38 Adults and Teens (4 teen boys!), & 5 Kiddos

      Aaaaaand, the grand finale: the cinnamon rolls I made from the bread dough!
They were so good,  we ate some before I got to take the picture!
      Have a great week, Scribblers and Book Bandits!

Works Cited

Strunk Jr., William, E. B. White, and Roger Angell. The Elements of Style. 4th ed. Massachusetts:

            Longeman, 2000. Print.

Friday, January 20, 2012

California Library Budget Cuts

     Scribblers, Library Lovers, and Book Bandits:
     On December 2nd, I posted about budget cuts to California libraries, and how we could speak out against more of them. Last year, Governor Jerry Brown proposed the elimination of all state funding for library programs. He and the Legislature were able to work out a plan in which only 50% of the cuts were made. These cuts were difficult to deal with, but this year will be even tougher.
     Since my last post, the threat has materialized. State funding to California Libraries has been cut as of January 1st.
     Lake County Libraries' first casualty of these cuts is the book budget--it has been severely reduced, and it still must be divided among the four Lake County branches (Lakeport, Redbud, Middletown and Upperlake). They can hardly afford to buy new books.
     Also, our Interlibrary Loan system, which allows us to order books, movies and other materials from other libraries, is no longer being funded by the state. Because these cuts are so new, the library hasn't decided how to handle this yet. One proposed idea is that patrons (we) might have to pay for this previously-free service.
     When I find out more news about casualties to our library's services, I'll post them on the blog.

     There are ways to deal with these unfortunate cuts:
  1. Since the library can buy few new books, that leaves it to the public to donate their books. Have you noticed the "Recylce Your Books" bins situated around Santa Rosa? That's essentially what we need to do, if you want to help with this crisis. Bring in your books: read, unread, new, old, and especially those you know our library doesn't own a copy of it. Spread the literary love! It's time to lighten the shelves or your personal home library and help our community.
  2.  You can volunteer a few hours a week. I volunteer on Tuesdays. Ask a librarian what days they could use some free help. They might tell you they love you.
  3. Join the Friends of the Library. This is a group of library lovers that organize events like book sales and donate generously. Find out more and sign up at the library.
  4. Tell a librarian how much you appreciate them and appreciate their work. <3 Maybe make them a card. And brownies. Whatever :)
     And don't forget--the free bread-making class is tomorrow at 2:00 PM at the library. Hopefully I'll see you there!
     Next week I'll write another craft post. Till then, friends. *salute*

Additional reading resources: "Twelve Way to Save Your Library" on Ilovelibraries.orgThe Library Journal on the California Library Budget Cuts, & The Library Journal on "The New Normal" for US Libraries.

Works Cited
West London Dweller. "Carnegie Library (2)." Wikimedia Commons.  23 Jan. 2005. 18 March 2013.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Importance of Clarity

     This rule is important for any writing--books, articles, or reports for work.     
     Every experienced writer has a few golden rules they swear are absolutely, vitally important. These rules range from, "Keep it short," to "Write your completely unfiltered thoughts without inhibition."
     This post is about one of my all important rules. It's my mantra.
     Clarity. It matters more on a basic level than humor, beauty, show-offy skill, spot-on characters, or an engrossing plot. Clarity comes first. If a story's words or meaning are muddled, the reader will just stop reading. Your boss will love you if you can write clear reports that leave no doubt in his mind about what you're saying.
     Here are some ideas to think about when you're trying to keep your writing from getting fuzzy:
  • Using clear verbs will help a lot in this quest for clarity. For example, instead of "Winthrop went down the street," write, "Winthrop walked," or "Winthrop ran," or "Winthrop  tore up the pavement in his hurry." This will give a picture in your reader's head.
  • Don't clog sentences down with images. Famous writers can get away with page long sentences and long, rambling descriptions; we can't. Today's market likes one, maybe two clear images that get the point across. Television has shortened our attention span (not that I'm tv-bashing).
  • Just like tons of descriptions will quickly lose readers, tons of adjectives will as well. "White, puffy, cumulus clouds floated across the sky like giant marshmellows, clearing any worries about storms from my mind." This sentence isn't bad, but I only really need one descriptive word about the clouds to get my point across--that the clouds are friendly and not threatening.
  • Too much punctuation. This is a big problem of mine. I load my sentences with commas and try to fit too much into them. It's better to write two clear sentences than one long, rambling one.
  • Often, simpler is better.  
     For great tips on how to avoid the problem of muddled prose, I  recommend, this post on "overwriting."
     Also, don't forget about the free breadmaking class on Jan. 21st!
     Thanks for stopping in! Now get writing! :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Quick Announcement!

 The promised craft post is still scheduled for Friday--this is just a quick announcement! I wanted to explain the blog's name change.
     I changed the name of the blog because "Christy's Well-Lit Corner" was a working title until I could define what my blog is really all about. I've honed in my focus, so now it's about dispensing inspiration for writers. Fun tips and hard-to-hear advice. Hence the new name: "Sweets and Beets for Scribblers"! Because beets are gross. You know. But good for you.
     See you Friday, ready to write!