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CRAFTING SENTENCES IN NARRATIVE FICTION

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Title: CRAFTING SENTENCES IN NARRATIVE FICTION


1
CRAFTING SENTENCES IN NARRATIVE FICTION
  • Teaching GRAMMAR FOR WRITING

2
Word class?
  • cold
  • striking
  • escape
  • wind
  • swirl

This is the third cold Ive had this
winter. Thats a very striking coat youre
wearing. Any attempt at escape is
useless. You really know how to wind me
up! Finish with a swirl of cream.
3
Word classes in context
  • It was a bright cold day in April, and the
    clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his
    chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to
    escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the
    glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not
    quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust
    from entering along with him.
  • Nineteen
    Eighty Four, George Orwell

4
Aims
  • To explore ways of teaching students about
    sentence construction and sentence variation
  • To consolidate teachers subject knowledge about
    sentences
  • To plan for teaching sentence variety in the
    context of narrative fiction

5
  • Grammar is what gives sense to language
    Sentences make words yield up their meanings.
    Sentences actively create sense in language and
    the business of the study of sentences is the
    study of grammar.

  • David Crystal, Rediscover Grammar
  • Conscious manipulation of syntax deepens
    engagement and releases invention.

  • Ted Hughes

6
Some basics
  • What is the difference between a phrase, a clause
    and a sentence?

7
Finite Verbs
  • Necessary to create a main clause and therefore a
    sentence.
  • They are inflected for person, number and tense
    (so changing the tense of a passage is an easy
    way to find most of them).
  • Modal verbs are also finite (would, could, may
    etc).
  • Imperatives are finite (Stay! Sit! Eat!).
  • In a string of verbs, the first verb is the
    finite one.

8
Find the finite verbs
  • It was a bright cold day in April, and the
    clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his
    chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to
    escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the
    glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not
    quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust
    from entering along with him.
  • Nineteen Eighty Four, George Orwell

9
The Sentence
  • Simple sentence
  • one clause containing a finite verb (main clause)
  • Compound sentence
  • two or more coordinated main clauses
  • Complex sentence
  • one main clause and one or more subordinate
    clauses

10
Simple sentence
  • One clause containing a finite verb.
  • A simple sentence can be any length.

The detective hurried along the street. The
detective hurried along the rain-swept streets,
his hands deep in his pockets. With his hands
deep in his pockets one cold November night, the
detective from New York hurried anxiously along
the half-deserted, rain-swept streets, a troubled
frown on his face.
11
Identify the simple sentences
  • I was just pushing the lower half of the
    ladder back up when I heard it. There was someone
    at the front door. I held my breath. It was OK.
    They couldnt get in. I slid my hand into my
    pocket to make sure the key was still there. It
    wasnt. Id left it in the front door. I could
    hear it turning in the lock now. I raced back up
    the ladder and hauled it after me. When I reached
    down to pull the hatch back up, I could hear
    someone coming up the stairs. I quickly pulled
    the hatch back into place and scrabbled over to
    the water tank, holding my breath.
  • (From Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce)

12
Can you add more detail to this sentence so that
we have a clearer picture of the setting,
characters and events? Use only one verb.
  • Choose more interesting nouns
  • (e.g. teenager, pavement)
  • Choose a more interesting verb
  • (e.g. crouched, were curled up)
  •  
  • Add more information to the verb with an adverb
  • (e.g. despairingly, together)
  •   
  • Add more information to the noun with an
    adjective
  • (e.g. hungry, exhausted)
  •  
  • Add more information with an adverbial phrase
    that tells you where, when or how something
    happens
  • (e.g. outside the supermarket, on a cold winters
    day, in despair)
  • Change the order of words for emphasis (e.g. by
    moving the adverb to the start of the sentence)

A boy and his dog sat in the road.
The house was near a road.
13
Coordination
  • andbut...or
  • words bread and butterphrases
    all the kings horses and all the kings
    menclauses Its getting late and
    Im tired.words tired but
    happyphrases out of sight but
    not out of mindclauses I like
    coffee but love tea.words
    heads or tailsphrases
    table dhôte or à la carteclauses
    We can eat in or we can go out.

14
Compound sentence
  • It was a bright cold day in April, and the
    clocks were striking thirteen.
  • She was startled and looked at her son.
  • She looked at her son and was startled.
  • Coordinating conjunctions and, but, or
  • BOYFANS but, or, yet, for, and, neither, so

15
Sentence variety
  • Some findings from research
  • Weaker writers tend to chain together finite
    clauses, (most frequently joined with and or by
    comma splicing).
  • Stronger writers use a wider range of non-finite
    clauses to add detail, create mood and rhythm.
  • However, stronger writers also use simple
    sentences for effect.
  • (QCA, 1999 Myhill, 2001)

16
Subordination
  • Subordinating conjunctions join a dependent or
    subordinate clause to a main clause to create a
    complex sentence
  • e.g. after, although, as, as if, as long as,
    before, if, in case, since, unless, while,
    when(ever), where(ever), whereas, because
  • Make up a subordinate clause to precede the
    following main clause
  • We didnt wear our coats

17
How many different ways can you join the main
clauses to the subordinate clauses? Which
sentences sound the scariest?
the house seemed empty
slowly decaying
its windows boarded up
covered with ivy
a woman stood in the doorway
smiling
holding a flickering candle
beckoning me to follow her
18
Complex sentence
  • A subordinate clause is formed from
  • A subordinating conjunction finite verb
  • As she slid down towards the edge....
  • .....when I heard it.
  • A relative pronoun finite verb
  • Winston, who was thirty-nine....
  • A non-finite verb (present/past participles the
    infinitive)
  • Holding my breath....
  • Trapped in the attic....
  • To make sure the key was still there....

19
Sentence combining
  • The boy bit his lip. He kept back the tears. He
    advanced. The man raised his arm.
  • Combine
  • to make compound sentences
  • to make one complex sentence

20
  • The boy, biting his lower lip so as to keep back
    the tears, advanced, and the man raised his arm.
  • From The Breadwinner, Lesley Halward

21
Identify subordinate clauses
  • That was when Iorek moved. Like a wave that has
    been building its strength
  • over a thousand miles of ocean, and which makes
    little stir in the deep water,
  • but which when it reaches the shallows rears
    itself up high into the sky,
  • terrifying the shore-dwellers, before crashing
    down on the land with irresistible
  • power so Iorek Byrnison rose up against Iofur,
    exploding upwards from his
  • firm footing on the dry rock and slashing with a
    ferocious left hand at the
  • exposed jaw of Iofur Raknison.
  • It was a horrifying blow. It tore the lower part
    of his jaw clean off, so that it flew
  • through the air scattering blood-drops in the
    snow many yards away.
  • (Description of the bear fight in Northern Lights
    by Philip Pullman)

22
How did Philip Pullman do that?
  • Iorek Byrnison rose up against Iofur
  • Like a wave that has been building its strength
    over a thousand miles of
  • ocean, Iorek Byrnison rose up against Iofur
  • Like a wave that has been building its strength
    over a thousand miles of
  • ocean, and which makes little stir in the deep
    water, but which when it
  • reaches the shallows rears itself up high into
    the sky, terrifying the
  • shore-dwellers, before crashing down on the land
    with irresistible power
  • so Iorek Byrnison rose up against Iofur,
    exploding upwards from his
  • firm footing on the dry rock and slashing with a
    ferocious left hand at
  • the exposed jaw of Iofur Raknison.

23
Conscious control for effect
  • And it seemed to happen so slowly, but there
    was nothing she could do her weight shifted, the
    stones moved under her feet, and helplessly she
    began to slide. In the first moment it was
    annoying, and then it was comic she thought how
    silly! But as she utterly failed to hold on to
    anything, as the stones rolled and tumbled
    beneath her, as she slid down towards the edge,
    gathering speed, the horror of it slammed into
    her. She was going to fall. There was nothing to
    stop her. It was already too late.

  • The Amber Spyglass, Philip Pullman

24
Putting verbs in their place
  • A squat grey building of only thirty-four
  • storeys. Over the main entrance the
  • words, CENTRAL LONDON HATCHERY
  • AND CONDITIONING CENTRE, and, in a
  • shield, the World State's motto,
  • COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY.
  • Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

25
What the Dickens?
  • LONDON. Michaelmas Term lately over, and the
    Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincolns Inn Hall.
    Implacable November weather. As much mud in the
    streets as if the waters had but newly retired
    from the face of the earth, and it would not be
    wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long
    or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up
    Holborn Hill. Smoke lowering down from
    chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with
    flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown
    snow-flakes gone into mourning, one might
    imagine, for the death of the sun. Dogs,
    undistinguishable in mire. Horses, scarcely
    better splashed to their very blinkers. Foot
    passengers, jostling one anothers umbrellas in a
    general infection of ill-temper, and losing their
    foot-hold at street-corners, where tens of
    thousands of other foot passengers have been
    slipping and sliding since the day broke (if the
    day ever broke), adding new deposits to the crust
    upon crust of mud, sticking at those points
    tenaciously to the pavement, and accumulating at
    compound interest.

26
  • I believe the road to hell is paved with
    adverbs
  • - Stephen King On Writing

27
  • Create a word bank of verbs to describe this
    picture.
  • Write a short paragraph using your verbs
    effectively.

28
Phrases
  • I lived alone for a long time in the house at
    the end of the street.
  • Noun phrase the house at the end of the street
  • Verb phrase I lived alone
  • Prepositional phrases in the house at the end
    of the street
  • Adjectival phrase the house at the end of the
    street
  • Adverbial phrase I lived alone for a long time
    in the house at the end of the street

29
Aaagh! Beam me up!
  • Dont panic!
  • Descriptions of grammar or syntax operate on many
    levels concurrently.
  • e.g. A group of words can be a finite subordinate
    clause and also an adverbial clause at the same
    time.
  • e.g. A prepositional phrase can also be an
    adjectival phrase.
  • e.g. A subordinating connective (who) can also be
    a relative pronoun.
  • This is not a cause to despair.
  • You dont need to know everything!
  • Concentrate on a few specific points to help
    students writing.
  • Agree them with each other and what to call
    them.

30
Teaching adverbials
  • Generic term for words/phrases/clauses that add
    detail of when, where and how something happens
  • Time I walked in the dusky evening.
  • Place I walked through the shadowy forest.
  • Manner I walked on, feeling afraid

31
Teaching Adverbials
  • Create atmosphere (melodrama, foreboding,
    melancholy).
  • Change verbs, add adverbials (words, phrases or
    clauses).
  • I walked through the city. The sun shone.
    Wispy clouds moved across the sky. People crowded
    the streets. Still, I was alone.

32
The power of punctuation
  • The way a sentence is punctuated communicates the
    relative importance and relevance of points and
    can create or solve ambiguities for the reader.
  • How many different ways can you punctuate the
    following
  • A woman without her man is nothing

33
Teaching punctuation
  • Punctuation is about awareness of grammatical
    chunks to split up texts into sentences
    indicating clearly where each major chunk of
    meaning begins and ends we use capital letters
    and full stops within the sentence we use a
    variety of punctuation marks to show breaks
    between phrases clauses and sometimes words

34
Teaching punctuation
  • Punctuation is about awareness of grammatical
    chunks. To split up texts into sentences,
    indicating clearly where each major chunk of
    meaning begins and ends, we use capital letters
    and full stops. Within the sentence, we use a
    variety of punctuation marks to show breaks
    between phrases, clauses and, sometimes, words.

35
Punctuate for meaning
  • Speakers use tone of voice to shape meaning.
    Writers use punctuation marks. David Crystal
  • Its not there.
  • Its not there!
  • Its not there?

36
Writers choices
  • I listened and at last I heard it a tiny
    squeaking sound far off like it was coming from
    another world.
  • I listened, and at last I heard it a tiny
    squeaking sound, far off, like it was coming from
    another world.

37
Writers choices
  • Black shapes were emerging out of thin air all
    around them blocking their way left and right
    eyes glinted through slits in hoods a dozen lit
    wand tips were pointing directly at their hearts
    Ginny gave a gasp of horror
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,
    Chapter 35
  • Black shapes were emerging out of thin air
    all around them, blocking their way left and
    right eyes glinted through slits in hoods, a
    dozen lit wand tips were pointing directly at
    their hearts Ginny gave a gasp of horror.

38
Using commas
  • We use commas
  • before but in a compound sentence
  • to separate the subordinate clause from the main
    clause when the subordinate clause comes first
  • after a connective that links across or between
    sentences
  • to separate items in a list
  • round additional information in a sentence that
    can be removed without affecting meaning.

39
Writing conversations
  • Talking about patterns and features of language
    helps pupils to become more aware of them and so
    to use them better as tools for thinking and
    expression.

40
Rhetorical grammar rules
  • Linked to students own reading and writing, not
    studied separately.
  • Teaching features and patterns of language and
    how they create meaning or effects.
  • Detailed and explicit discussion about language
    in context using real examples, not simplistic
    descriptions such as adjectives create good
    description short sentences create impact.
  • Not focused on accuracy.
  • Always support technical terminology with
    examples.

41
Final Recap
  • Grammar, as a word, has many shades of meaning.
  • When it comes to attempts to describe language,
    there are many different grammars.
  • Language came first grammar is just an attempt
    to describe it!
  • You already have expert implicit knowledge about
    language.
  • When teaching, remember to focus on language in
    context and on how any features you teach can be
    used in students own writing.
  • Have fun!
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