Page images

out, you must write what you think might have been said.

For example, the last paragraph of the first part tells what the neighbor thought. You must write just what he said to himself, as though he were thinking out loud.

Again, the first paragraph of the second part tells that the merchant asked the neighbor to return his silver. You must write just what you think the neighbor said. So, in the last paragraph of this second part, you are told that the merchant pretended to believe that a rat really had eaten his silver. You must make the merchant say something to show this.

Finally, to put into the play what is told in the very last paragraph of the story, you should write what the dishonest man said in confessing his sin and in giving back the silver in exchange for his son.

Remember, in writing this play, that no quotation marks are to be used. Write the name of the speaker, and after the name write what the speaker says, like this:

Merchant: My friend, I know that you are an honest man.

Here are a hundred pieces of silver. Will you keep them for me, while I go on a long journey?

Neighbor: Certainly. I will guard them with great






Read the following description.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

My Noah's Ark 1 Almost every Christmas I received a Noah's Ark, with a red roof, half of which was hinged along the ridgepole like a lid, and with a row of windows painted on each side, out of which peered a variety of goggleeyed animals. Lifting the roof I drew forth first, Noah and his wife, and Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Father, mother, and the three sons comprised the human passengers all dressed in bodices and long skirts, and wearing hats like those worn by Chinese coolies, and all standing stiff as grenadiers.

After them I lifted out the animals, twenty or thirty of them, striped or spotted, and smelling of paint. One could tell the horse, cow, and deer apart by the horns.


[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Have you ever seen a Noah's Ark? If so, you know that the above description is exact. If you have one at home bring it to school and show the other pupils the red roof, hinged at the ridgepole; the painted windows; the goggle-eyed animals painted on the windows. Lift the roof and show Noah and his wife and sons, and the queer, painted animals.

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

1 First published in The Atlantic Monthly for July, 1922, and here reprinted with consent of the author and The Atlantic Monthly Company.

The descriptions of the ark and of Noah and his wife and sons are so true and complete that you can see them clearly in your mind, and can draw them on paper. The ark itself and the people in it are distinct; and the description just fits them.

But the description of the animals does not make you see these separately and distinctly, and you would hardly know how to draw them from the description. The toy animals themselves are not distinct. They look much alike; they are about the same size; they all smell of paint; by the horns only can you tell that a cow or a deer is not a horse.

The writer could not give a clear, distinct picture of any single animal because no wooden animal was clearly and distinctly different from the others.

In choosing a thing to describe, select something that has something unusual about it, and make this very clear in your description.

Below are the names of some of the animals that may have been in the Noah's Ark. These animals themselves are very different. There are unusual, striking things about each one by which you can distinguish that animal from all others. A fitting

A fitting description will make each



[merged small][ocr errors]

animal stand out clearly, so that one reading the description can see and draw the animal.

Which of these animals have you seen? of which have you seen pictures ? Bring to the class as many pictures of these animals as you can. You can use them in a lesson soon.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]



camel bear fox


[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Copy the above names. Opposite each write one unusual thing about it; that is, one thing by which you can tell that animal apart from other animals.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

IX. USING THE DICTIONARY Find the words below in the dictionary and see what words meaning the same might be used in place of them.

peered variety comprised

grenadier goggle bodices Read the part of the description in which each of the above words is used, replacing the word with a word or words that you find in the dictionary. Read like this:

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Out of the windows peered animals.
Out of the windows animals looked curiously.

Which do you like better, the first sentence in which the author's one word, "peered," is used, or the second sentence, in which the two words, “looked curiously,” are used ?

“Peered” describes more exactly the way the animals looked out of the windows than do the two words, “looked curiously,” and it is better to use one word than two words when one is enough. Read the two sentences again, and note the shortness and completeness of the first. The second sentence is a good description, but the first is better.

In the same way, compare each of the words used by the author with any words that might be used in place of these. You will find that the author's description is so good because he chose his words very carefully. Whenever you try to describe anything, choose the very best words you can, those that fit exactly the thing you are describing; and use no more words than are necessary. Your dictionary will help you to find the best words to use.


In the last two lessons we learned that to make good descriptions at least two things are necessary.

« PreviousContinue »