Exercise 1. Sentence rewrite.

Reanna knew, as sure as there was a God in heaven, she was witnessing a miracle. “Praise be,” she said. “Oh hallelujah!” She tapped on the large glass window of the rehab room and waggled her fingers. Maybe Lila would look up and see her grandmother’s beaming face.

“Please, Mrs. Wills, we mustn’t be a distraction,” said the nurse at the front desk. “You can visit your granddaughter in fifteen minutes.  Once she is back in her room.”

“But. . . but she’s walking.”

“It’s a beginning for her. She has a long—”

“Walking. She’s up and walking. God’s healed her.”

“Modern medicine had a hand.” The nurse escorted Mrs. Wills to a seat in the waiting room. “Help yourself to coffee,” she said.

<emI’ll be able to take Lila on that trip, now.  Mrs. Wills stirred three sugars into her coffee cup. Lila was ten when promised a trip to Disneyworld.  My, my how time had flown.

Mrs. Wills truly hated disappointing Lila–the polite little thing never complained–but what with Lila’s father’s mental problems and the renovations for the new rec room at the church, well. . .She shrugged and sipped her coffee.

“You can go back now, Mrs. Willis. Lila’s in her room.”

“Thank you, nurse.” She left her half-filled coffee cup on the table. “I’m so excited.  Going to take her to Disneyworld.” She pushed open the door to the ward.

“Not anytime soon,” said the nurse under her breath.

#

2. Sentence rewrite.

If one stared at the marble bust of the poet, Milton, sitting on the pedestal, the features  altered. the artist noticed; shadows accentuated his protruding forehead, pursed lip, and pointed chin, the blind, seeking eyes: in sunlight, his face sank into abstraction.

Portia smiled at her admiring audience and drew the first bold strokes on the yellowed page of her deceased mother’s sketch pad.

#

3.  Sentence rewrite.

“Damn right you’ll fix it. Pay attention, knucklehead, how you go about it, though. Revealing your colossal blunder won’t set well with the higher-ups. Capeesh? And just for future reference. Use your head.  Plan ahead, see? Or you won’t have a future.”

#

Exercise 4. Sentence rewrite.

     Timothy O’Leary, munching peanuts, slouched on the peeling bench outside the bus terminal. He kept his eyes lowered as I approached. Annoyed, I suppose, for making him fret–wonder if I  might bail at the last minute.

Not yet, I thought. Sucker’s paid for my bus ticket.

I stowed my duffle bag under the bench. “Can’t risk having it stolen,” I said and parked my ass beside Timmy. Truth was, I didn’t want him looking too closely; the bag was too over-stuffed for just a week-end excursion.

“Have a peanut?” Tim shook the bag; a few loose shelled peanuts fell into his grubby hand.

“Ah, no thanks.” I shook my head.

“Suit yourself.” Tim shrugged, slumped back against the bench, and belched.

I coughed and covered my nose and mouth; his foul breath smelled like a rarely cleaned doghouse.

#

Exercise 5. Sentence rewrite.

The loneliness of growing up an only child, neglected by divorced parents who reluctantly shared custody, caused Brianna relentless search for her imagined younger sister no matter where she was, what she was doing; shopping at the mall, browsing the shelves of the library, working on her abs at the gym, creating sculptors at the modern art center.

The idealized image of her fantasized sister blended the best characteristics of the fairy tale princesses she’d read about in fairy tales or in films viewed incessantly on her tablet: Rapunzel’s long, golden braid, Belle’s courage, Snow White’s beautiful and faithfulness, Mulan’s courage.

Her sister was focused on reading the label on a can of asparagus in the canned goods aisle when Brianna spotted her.

“That’s her.” Brianna gave a quick little squeal. She looked around. No, her father hadn’t heard her. Too busy ordering steaks from the butcher three aisles over.

Hazel didn’t measure up to Brianna’s picture of her younger sister. Too short and dumpy. Dark hair pulled back in a tight bun.

But, at last!  She had found her sister. Brianna rushed to the woman. “You’re my sister,” she said.

Hazel placed the can of asparagus back on the shelf. She tilted her head and looked steadfastly at Brianna. The woman standing beside her wasn’t as she’d imagined.

“And you,” she said finally and wiped tears from her eyes, “you are my sister.”

Instructor Response

Exercise 1. Sentence rewrite.

Reanna knew, as sure as there was a God in heaven, she was witnessing a miracle. “Praise be,” she said. “Oh hallelujah!” She tapped on the large glass window of the rehab room and waggled her fingers. Maybe Lila would look up and see her grandmother’s beaming face. (Even though this is a segment, be sure it’s clear who is who and where they are. Where is the grandmother? Next to Reanna? Inside?)

Need a transition to get reader from nursery to the front desk and  grandma (Mrs. Wills) to the front desk.

“Please, Mrs. Wills, we mustn’t be a distraction,” said the nurse at the front desk. “You can visit your granddaughter in fifteen minutes.  Once she is back in her room.”

“But. . . but she’s walking.” (Who?)

“It’s a beginning for her. She has a long—”

“Walking. She’s up and walking. God’s healed her.”

“Modern medicine had a hand.” The nurse escorted Mrs. Wills to a seat in the waiting room. Good. We need to see in-scene movement of characters. “Help yourself to coffee,” she said.

 I’ll be able to take Lila on that trip, now.  Mrs. Wills stirred three sugars into her coffee cup. Lila was ten when promised a trip to Disneyworld.  My, my how time had flown. [Are the italics thoughts? The first one is. The second isn’t–narrator. Italics for thoughts can be very useful, but must be consistent (and not overdone).]

Mrs. Wills truly hated disappointing Lila–the polite little thing never complained–but what with Lila’s father’s mental problems and the renovations for the new rec room at the church, well. . .She shrugged and sipped her coffee.

“You can go back now, Mrs. Willis. Lila’s in her room.”

“Thank you, nurse.” She left her half-filled coffee cup on the table. “I’m so excited.  Going to take her to Disneyworld.” She pushed open the door to the ward.

“Not anytime soon,” said the nurse under her breath.

#

2. Sentence rewrite.

If one stared at the marble bust of the poet, Milton, sitting on the pedestal, the features altered. the artist (state who this is) noticed; shadows accentuated his protruding forehead, pursed lip, and pointed chin, the blind, seeking eyes: in sunlight, his face sank into abstraction.

Portia smiled at her admiring audience and drew the first bold strokes on the yellowed page of her deceased mother’s sketch pad.

(Nicely done. The editing makes the pacing better, don’t you think?)

#

3.  Sentence rewrite.

“Damn right you’ll fix it. Pay attention, knucklehead, how you go about it, though. Revealing your colossal blunder won’t set well with the higher-ups. Capeesh? And just for future reference. Use your head.  Plan ahead, see? Or you won’t have a future.”

Great.

#

Exercise 4. Sentence rewrite.

Timothy O’Leary, munching peanuts, slouched on the peeling bench outside the bus terminal. He kept his eyes lowered as I approached. Annoyed, I suppose, for making him fret–wonder if I  might bail at the last minute.

Not yet, I thought. Sucker’s paid for my bus ticket.

I stowed my duffle bag under the bench. “Can’t risk having it stolen,” I said and parked my ass beside Timmy. Truth was, I didn’t want him looking too closely; the bag was too over-stuffed for just a week-end excursion.

 “Have a peanut?” Tim shook the bag; a few loose shelled peanuts fell into his grubby hand.

“Ah, no thanks.” I shook my head.

“Suit yourself.” Tim shrugged, slumped back against the bench, and belched.

Good work. In both versions: Is the metaphor right? Not too much? Does it evoke a clear image?  Would something like this work better? “I coughed and covered my nose and mouth to escape his foul breath.”  Metaphors in fiction are tricky. The A’s and B’s must be accurate and related appropriately, and the metaphor should not call attention to itself.

#

Exercise 5. Sentence rewrite.

The loneliness of growing up an only child, neglected by divorced parents who reluctantly shared custody, caused Brianna relentless search for her imagined younger sister no matter where she was, what she was doing: shopping at the mall, browsing the shelves of the library, working on her abs at the gym, creating sculptors at the modern art center.

The idealized image of her fantasized sister blended the best characteristics of the fairy tale princesses. she’d read about in fairy tales or in films viewed incessantly on her tablet: Rapunzel’s long, golden braid, Belle’s courage, Snow White’s beautiful and faithfulness, Mulan’s courage.

Her sister A woman was focused on reading the label on a can of asparagus in the canned goods aisle when Brianna spotted her.

“That’s her.” Brianna gave a quick little squeal. She looked around. No, her father hadn’t heard her. Too busy ordering steaks from the butcher three aisles over.

Hazel The woman didn’t measure up to Brianna’s picture of her imagined younger sister. Too short and dumpy. Dark hair pulled back in a tight bun.

(Don’t use Hazel’s name. Use “the woman” instead. Study it and see how it shifts the point of view.) 

 

But, at last!  She Brianna had found her sister. She rushed to the woman. “You’re my sister,” she said.

Hazel The woman placed the can of asparagus back on the shelf. She tilted her head and looked steadfastly at Brianna. The woman standing beside her wasn’t as she’d imagined. (It’s okay to shift into a different point of view, but it’s awkward here.)

“And you,” she  the woman said finally and wiped tears from her eyes, “you are my sister.”

Good work. Keep aware of point of view and perspective, and make sure the reader knows who’s thinking or talking at the moment. (Be sure the antecedent of a pronoun is obvious.) All the best, Bill Coles

  1. Dear Dr. Coles,

    Thanks once again. You supply the necessary clarity for an aspiring writer desiring improvement and growth in her work.

    Too often, I mentally envision the scene, but fail to convey it accurately to reader; will work on that aspect in the next assignment..

    And yes, beyond me why I stuck in that innane metaphor!!

    Best,

    Cathryn

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