Monday, March 10, 2014

Monotony and Music in Writing

This sentence has five words. This is five words too. Five word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes when I am certain the reader is rested I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the symbols, and sounds that say listen to this, it is important.     ~Make Your Words Work, Gary Provost, 55                                                         

I love that paragraph, and I love to use it to show students what changing the lengths of sentences (or not) accomplishes.
Provost goes on. He writes one paragraph with long sentences, then another with short sentences. Both sound monotonous. The third one he writes with varying sentence lengths—short, medium, and long—to satisfy the reader.

Try this with your children.

1.    Read aloud Provost’s paragraph a couple of times. Really listen to the monotony at the beginning and the music at the end. Discuss with your students what they hear and observe.

2.    Invite your children to write a paragraph three times. The first time they will stuff it with short sentences, the second time they will fill it with long sentences, and the third time they will carefully craft a variety of sentences, trying to achieve a rhythm that satisfies.

3.    Ask your children to read their paragraphs aloud, so they can hear the rhythm they have (or haven’t) created.

4.    Discuss their observations.

5.    Please share the results in the comments.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...