Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mr. Twit's Beard

Note: This assignment is adapted from Writing Fix and written directly to the student.
Read an excellent example of showing vs. telling in Roald Dahl's The Twits.  It's called "Dirty Beards."  (Warning:  I expect you will squint your eyes, wrinkle your nose, stick out your tongue, and say, "Yuck" as you read this.  I can picture this beautiful face in my mind!)

It begins like this:
"As you know, an ordinary unhairy face like yours or mine simply gets a bit smudgy if it is not washed often enough, and there's nothing so awful about that.
But a hairy face is a very different matter.  Things cling to hairs, especially food.  Things like gravy go right in among the hairs and stay there.  You and I can wipe our smooth faces with a washcloth and we quickly look more or less all right again, but the hairy man cannot do that.

And ends like this:
What I am trying to tell you is that Mr. Twit was a foul and smelly old man."
Now, Mr. Dahl could have just written "Mr. Twit was a foul and smelly old man" and gone on with his story, but he created a very vivid picture in our minds of exactly what he meant by foul and smelly.  Which one do you think is better?

I would like you to do something similar.  Think of a basic sentence, using a similar pattern. Maybe you want to include two or three adjectives like he did.  Then see if you can create a vivid picture for your audience by showing us what those words really mean.  You can follow Dahl's pattern here, too, tacking your original sentence on the end.

Actually, there is one more sentence to the chapter, which I didn't include.  It says:
He was also an extremely horrid old man as you will find out in a moment.
I wonder what he means.  I really don't know, since I haven't read the rest of the book.  Maybe you can write your own description before reading Dahl's.

If your students complete this assignment, please leave a sample in the comments.

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