English Lesson 101: Give me Power. Vocabulary for Primary Creative Writing

eduKate Punggol Tuition Centre Coursework for PSLE English Creative Writing Tuition for Primary school. Material By Tutor Yuet Ling +65 82226327

Level: PSLE Primary 6 Semester 2. Advanced Creative Writing Material.

Creative writing this week deals with words that create the illusion of power, or animate objects to create the feel that it is alive. There are two things to learn from our English Creative Writing lesson in class this week.

Firstly, to create the illusion of power by using selective words, and secondly, to master the subtle changes if we substitute it with other synonyms.

Lesson 1 Vocabulary

Let’s take a sentence and make it better:

“In the hot sun, the people saw the plane fly into the river”

Using words that give action and power, we shall change that sentence and retain the storyline. Here are a few words that we shall install as an example:

  • Searing
  • Helplessly
  • Horrific
  • Plunge

“In the searing sun, the people witnessed helplessly as the plane plunged horrifically into the river.”

Notice these descriptive words give an impact to the sentence, conjuring a landscape to animate objects, seamlessly harmless and passive without these words but with discerning use, makes the scene/action stronger and instills a certain gravitas to the situation.

Searing sun gives readers the feel and landscape of this event and sets the scene for things to follow. This, with people witnessing an event and left out of the action by the word helpless, is carefully chosen to cordon them off the story so that the readers will discount them, to save their attention for later. This leads the readers onto the next important part, where we come to the action words plunge horrifically, which directs the reader to feel something about the plane. It gives the effect of setting the scene at first, not particularly important, then boom, feel the action of the plane going down. It helps the reader to build anticipation, and prepares them for the tension to follow later down.

Oh ye, Slay thy Verbosity Monsters

Notice that we did not go overboard in the words used, trying to steer clear of verbosity so that we can retain a majority of the readers to readily digest our composition without them scurrying off to look for the dictionary and ultimately hate us for making it harder than it needs to be.

Lesson 2 Synonyms

Alternate synonyms that are similar to meaning in your passages, and learn that, if we substitute them, it changes the texture of the passage.

There are numerous ways to describe the same thing, changing its feel as we change the words. Of course, use words that would feel naturally suited to the context of the sentence but however, pick wisely as it paints a different perception in the mind of the reader. For example, instead of using the previous example, we change a few words just to see how we can effect the texture. From:-

  1. “In the searing sun, the people witnessed helplessly as the plane plunged horrifically into the river.” to:-
  2. “In the scathing sun, the people witnessed harrowingly as the plane plummeted helplessly into the river”

Let’s compare the two “different” sentences.

In sentence 1, the highlighted words makes it feel like it is a rather hot day, and the plane going into the river is the worst thing that is happening, with the people helpless to the whole situation. We seem to be led by the writer that it is a forgone conclusion, helpless to the situation. The people feels forlorn as they look on.

In sentence 2, as we change those words, we still maintain the same actions and the storyline stays intact but notice what the revisions do, now the weather is just too painful to bear, now the plane is helpless instead and, now the onlookers are the ones that are in pain. That changes the texture even if they are comparatively similar to the first sentence. The actions are the same, the feel is different.

In sentence 2, we feel the weather a lot more and makes the readers empathise with the onlookers instead, while decreasingly lesser attention is paid to the plane and passengers. The emphasis here are the onlookers, and how they feel, which will be very relevant if we are going to put them into play in the storyline. Maybe the writer is going to talk about them later down the storyline and they become significant in driving the story forward. Since they witnessed the event and as the writer employs them to further the storyline, sentence 2 will bode well into gathering attention for them early on when the reader reads this sentence.

Emphasizing the onlookers in anticipation gets the readers to feel for the onlookers and their emotions in this case, which is a good way to gain sympathy votes right off the bat, hook the readers to develop an opinion early in the story, and invest their feelings before the writer launches into micro conversations of the onlookers.

On the other hand, Sentence 1 seems to suggest that we should be more concerned with the plane, perhaps in the storyline, there is someone that the writer knows that is in that plane. This helps the writer reel in the reader’s attention towards the plane to empathise how painful it must be to be in the plane, whilst we are the onlookers that are helpless, silent bystanders. If the writer wants to write about the plane and its passengers later, this would be a much better sentence to convince the reader to start investing their emotions on the plane. The feel of this sentence is very much macro, more concerned with the scene than the onlookers. As you can see, the onlookers are now taking a back seat, and would be less impactful if the writer took this sentence and decided to engage the onlookers to drive the story later down. Optioning sentence 2 would have done a much better job if we want to talk about the onlookers.

Of course, the two sentences works well in creative writing, but notice how changing the words changes the landscape, the actions, the emphasis and the feel of the people. It also directs the reader’s attention, and formulate thoughts and ideas for them as they read the sentence.

It all depends on the storyline, but this is where we learn something about word choices. Choose words to suit the storyline. It gently nudges the attention of the reader and their feelings toward different areas of the scene, and gives them a direction to invest their emotions towards. It shows you are intelligently sharp and how capable you use words to guide your audience along. Maintain the contextual integrity of the essay, but formulate feelings and ideas in the mind of the readers, and prepare them to further your storyline.

Master how you want to direct your audience, and your composition becomes lively, guided and insightful, something the readers will appreciate as they read your work. It focusses the attention of the readers to specifics. The story becomes an enjoyable adventure, insightfully detailed, elegantly descriptive. Like the spectacle of a glorious garden, full of beautiful blooming flowers, filled with a spectrum of colours and smells, carefully worded and wisely led.

That is the fun in Creative Writing. Infinitely experimenting and creatively creating. No two writers are the same, and that should be the way, developing a wide variety of writing that describes a vibrant society.

Call Yuet Ling +65 82226327 for a Creative Writing Class with us.

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