Voice Lesson #6
Whenever he was so fortunate as to have near him a hare that had been kept too long, or a meat pie made with rancid butter, he gorged himself with such violence that his veins swelled, and the moisture broke out on his forehead.
--Thomas Babington Macaulay, “Samuel Johnson”
1.What effect does the detail (the spoiled hare, the rancid butter, the swollen veins, the sweaty forehead) have on the reader?
2.How would the meaning of the sentence be changed by ending it after himself?
3.Write a sentence describing someone with disgusting eating habits. It must be one, correct sentence; and it must contain at least three vivid details.
Voice Lesson #7
An old man, Don Tomasito, the baker, played the tuba. When he blew into the huge mouthpiece, his face would turn purple and his thousand wrinkles would disappear as his skin filled out.
--Alberto Alvaro Rios, “The Iguana Killer”
1.The first sentence is a general statement. How does the second sentence enrich and intensify the first?
2.Contrast the second sentence with the following:
- When he blew the tuba, his face turned purple and his cheeks puffed out.
Which sentence more effectively expresses an attitude toward Tomasito? What is the attitude and how is it communicated?
3.Describe someone jumping over a puddle. Your first sentence should be general, stating the action simply. Your second sentence should clarify and intensify the action through detail.
Voice Lesson #8
CHARLEY (to WILLY): Why must everybody like you? Who liked J.P. Morgan? Was he impressive? In a Turkish bath he’d look like a butcher. But with his pockets on he was very well liked. Now listen, Willy, I know you don’t like me, and nobody can say I’m in love with you, but I’ll give you a job because – just for the hell of it, put it that way. Now what do you say?
--Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman
1.Who was J.P. Morgan? What is a Turkish bath? What picture comes to mind when someone is said to look like a butcher? How do these details contribute to the point Charley is trying to make?
2.How would the passage be different if Charley said J.P. Morgan would look like a baker in a Turkish bath?
3.Think of someone famous and powerful. Use detail to create an unflattering but accurate description of the physical appearance of this famous person. Model your description on Miller’s description of J.P. Morgan.
Voice Lesson #1
Art is the antidote that can call us back from the edge of numbness, restoring the ability to feel for another.
--Barbara Kingsolver, High Tide in Tucson
1. By using the word antidote, what does the author imply about the inability to feel for another?
2. If we changed the word antidote to gift, what effect would it have on the meaning of the sentence?
3. Write a sentence using a medical term to characterize art. Explain the effect the term has on the sentence.
Voice Lesson #2
As I watched, the sun broke weakly through, brightened the rich red of the fawns, and kindled their white spots.
--E.B. White “Twins”
1.What kind of flame does kindled imply? How does this verb suit the purpose of the sentence?
2.Would the sentence be strengthened or weakened by changing “the sun broke weakly through” to “the sun burst through”? Explain the effect this change would have on the use of the verb “kindled.”
3.Brainstorm a list of action verbs that demonstrate the effects of sunlight.
Voice Lesson #3
An aged man is but a paltry thing
A tattered coat upon a stick…
--W.B. Yeats, “Sailing to Byzantium”
1.What picture is created by the use of the word “tattered”?
2.By understanding the connotations of the word “tattered,” what do we understand about the persona’s attitude toward an aged man?
3.List three adjectives that can be used to describe a pair of shoes. Each adjective should connote a different feeling about the shoes.
Voice Lesson #4
The man sighed hugely.
-E. Annie Proulx, The Shipping News
1.What does it mean to sigh hugely?
2.How would the meaning of the sentence change if we rewrote it as: The man sighed loudly.
3.Fill in the blank with an adverb: The man coughed _______________. Your adverb should make the cough express an attitude. For example, the cough could express contempt, desperation, or propriety. Do not state the attitude. Instead, let the adverb imply it.
Voice Lesson #5
A rowan* like a lipsticked girl.
--Seamus Heaney, “Song”
1.Other than the color, what comes to mind when you think of a lipsticked girl?
2.How would it change the meaning and feeling of the line if, instead of lipsticked girl, the author wrote girl with lipstick on?
3.Write a simile comparing a tree with a domesticated animal. In your simile, use a word that is normally used as a noun (like lipstick) as an adjective (like lipsticked).