AP Language & Composition

AP Prose Style Chapters 7-12

Hawthorne Biography
Scarlet Letter Criticism
In Depth...Machiavelli Biography
Ripped from Your Papers #1
Ripped from Your Papers #2
Ripped From Your Papers #3
Ripped From Your Papers #4
Vocabulary Lesson 1
Vocabulary Lesson 2
Vocabulary Lesson 3
Research Sources
AP Practice Test Calendar
Multi Choice Tips and Hints
Ethos, Pathos, Logos - The Foundation of Argument
AP Language & Composition
Your Study Habits
Tone and Attitudes
Active Reading and Annotation
AP Prose Style Calendar
AP Prose Style Chapter Outlines 1-6
AP Prose Style Chapters 7-12
AP Prose Style Ch. 13-16
AP Glossary & Schedules
Glossary Presentations How To
Glossary Tests Study Tips
Passage Analysis Quick Guide
Patterns of Development Schedule, Term 2
Patterns: Description Notes
Narration Mode Notes
Example Mode
Process Analysis
Comparison Contrast Notes
Classification and Division
Cause and Effect
Outside Reading Schedules/Booklists (scroll all the way down)
Persuasive Speech/Researched Argument
They Say/I Say
They Say I Say Slides Introduction
Cornell Notes How To
Creative Writing

Chapters 7-9
Chapter 7: Coordination

Prose Style

Chapter 7: Coordination

Chief Skill of Prose Stylist
(That means YOU!!!)

      Connect ideas

      Form graceful, expressive sentences

Range of tools in your toolkit

      Short staccato

      A great task remains before us. We must be dedicated to the task. We are pleased at the outcome. So there.

      Variety and grace

      It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before usthat from our honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause


      Ties ideas together

      Connects sentence elements that have the same grammatical function


      Two independent clauses

      I walked slowly away from her, and then I felt for my wallet.









Make a “Smoothie”

      Ms. Grossenbacher was courteous. She was very cool.

      Rachel is crazy about onions. Of course she is also

   crazy about garlic.


      Ms. Grossenbacher was courteous but very cool.

      Rachel is crazy about onions, of course, but also about garlic.

Punctuate to Coordinate

      The aim of AP Language students is to pass, and to pass means to be aware, studiously, attentively, serenely, divinely aware.

Correlative Conjunctions




  Not only…but also



      “An AP Language student will receive neither grades nor honor that is not his due.”

  Mrs. G. modeled on Benjamin Franklin

Words of Caution

      Coordinate elements need to be parallel

  Ex: While watching Sheldon High beat Pleasant Grove at football, John listened to his Ipod, talked on his cell phone, chomped on peanuts, and watched the cheerleaders create a pyramid.

Nonparallel Violations


      Joey decided not to befriend anyone who was poor or without an education.             


      Joey decided not to befriend anyone who was poor or uneducated.


      No, No, No…

      Reviews of Gabe’s novels were cutting, cruel, but always displayed humor.

      Yes, Yes, Yes…

      Reviews of Gabe’s novels were cutting and cruel, but always displayed humor.

Parallelism and Correlatives (either…or, etc.)

      Absolutely Nooooo


      Steven not only made three interceptions but several ferocious tackles.

      Vociferously YESS


      Steven not only made three interceptions but also made several ferocious tackles.

More about that…

The No’s Have IT


The senator was either an honest man or he was an extremely skillful liar.

      Aye, Aye, Matey!


      The senator was either an honest man or he was an extremely skillful liar.

Coordination achieves forcefullness and power!

      “Morally, spiritually, we are fettered. What we have achieved in mowing down mountain ranges, harnessing the energy of mighty rivers, or moving whole populations about like chess pieces, if we ourselves remain the same restless, miserable, frustrated creatures we were before.  To call such activity progress is utter delusion.” – Henry Miller


      Coordination includes…

      Independent Clauses

      Coordinating Conjunctions

      Correlative Conjunctions, i.e. either…or

      Parallel Construction


Can you solve the Riddle of the Sphinx?

      What walks on four legs in the morning, two in the afternoon, and three at night?

The End

      This is the end

      This is the end, my friend…

                    - Jim Morrison of “The Doors”

Chapter 8: Subordination

Prose Style Chapter 8


Overuse of coordination

   Dull regularity

   Lack of emphasis

   All ideas seem equally important or unimportant

Coordination Kills Curiosity (not the cat)

    I studied hard for the next AP timed write, and I got Abraham Lincoln to help me, but I still did poorly, but I did much better than on the previous timed write.

    Abraham Lincoln

   was obviously displeased with me, but his dirty looks did not shatter my lowered self-esteem, and I am strong in my own identity.

Remedy!  Remedy!

   Subordinate! Subordinate!

   Feel that rich and varied rhythm

   Emphasize important ideas, subordinate lesser important

Control! Control!

   By subordinating less important ideas you can focus more sharply the very important ones!

Subordination at work!!!

   With some help from Amy Tan, I studied hard for the next AP timed write; and even though I still did poorly, I did much better than on the previous timed write. Mr. Lincoln’s dirty looks could not shatter my self confidence.

Chief devices of subordination:

   Independent clause

l   Emily Dickinson told us about the gory, bloody aspects of the medical profession; we chose her to be our family doctor.

More Chief Devices

   Dependent Clause

l   Walt Whitman, whom we chose to be our family doctor, told us about the gory, bloody aspects of the medical profession.

More Devices


l   Jimmy Santiago Baca, our family doctor, told us about…

Dependent clause

   A clause is a group of words containing subject and verb.

Independent clause

   Can stand alone in a sentence

l   Benjamin Franklin grabbed the British pound note with both hands.



Dependent clause

   Cannot stand alone:

l   As Benjamin Franklin grabbed the British pound note with both hands, the London bobby popped out of the manhole and grabbed


List of “dependent words”

    After           Unless

    Although     What (& whatever)

    As                     When (& whenever)

    Because             Where (& wherever)

    Before        Whereas

    How            Whether

    If                That

    Since                 Which (& whichever)

    Than                  While

    Though              Whose



   if you subordinate one clause to the other, you will have a much greater variety of connectives to choose from


   After we choose the bloody Sweeney Todd to be our family doctor, he told us ……

   Although we chose……………..

More flexibility

   The dependent clause has yet another source of flexibility. It may come before the independent clause, after it, or in the middle.


    Before: As soon as we chose the bloody Sweeney Todd to be our family doctor, she told us about the sordid, gory  aspects of the medical profession.

    After: Sweeney Todd, wearing gore-soaked gloves,  told us about the sordid aspects of the medical profession because we had chosen him to be our family doctor.

    In the middle: The Blood-soaked Sweeney Todd, whom we chose to be our family doctor, told us about………………

Consider using “while”……..

   While Edgar Allan Poe was under doctor’s orders, he downed two jiggers of 100-proof bourbon every night before going to bed.



   Another marker inclined to be ambiguous is since,


     Since Al the mobster left town three weeks ago, most people have concluded that he is guilty as charged.

AS: another source of CONFUSION!!!!!!

   Used in place of while, when, or because

   Kate Chhopin, the Hollywood stuntwoman, started out for home as daylight was turning to darkness.

The Appositive Phrase

   The appositive, though neglected by amateur writers, is a great favorite among professionals

   A help in achieving conciseness

Usually NOUNS!!!!

   An appositive is usually a noun that refers to, and helps to explain, another noun.


Katherine Anne Porter, a local Elk Grove businesswoman, was found to be the organizer for a statewide ring of bicycle thieves.


   Appositives don’t always have to be brief.

   We could easily add modifiers to fill out the portrait of our white-collar bicycle thief.

Examples – notice the graceful use of the dash!!

    Without Apposition: Several of New York humorists have excelled in the art of nonsense. The humorists I have in mind are Robert Benchley, S.J. Perelman, and Woody Allen.

    With Apposition: Several of the New Yorker humorists Robert Benchley, S.J. Perelman, and Woody Allenhave excelled in the art of nonsense.

Commas And Dashes

   Notice that when an appositive phrase contains commas, you have to use dashes to set it off from the rest of the sentence.


        Those childrenselfish, deceitful, and sadisticwere evidence of their parents’ muddled sense of values.

Use a dash when the phrase is long

   When the phrase is a long one, the end of the clause may be a good place for its placement.


   I can still remember Alan’s cruelty the snarling tone, the cutting words, the savage eagerness to scold and insult and condemn anyone who disagreed with him on the smallest point.


Another Example

   The reward for Laura’s hard work seemed more like a punishmentruined eyesight, headaches, insomnia, loneliness.

The least customary position for the appositive

    Beginning of sentence

    Example: Plato, Nietzche, Henry James, Henry Miller, and Robert Benchleyworks by this strange collection of authors dominated Mrs. Grossenbacher’s bookshelf.

    The noose, the knife, the revolverthese were the murder weapons featured in the game called “Clue.”

Don’t go crazy

   Frequent use of introductory appositives can appear as a fetisha mannerism the writer is attempting to show off.

Verbal Phrase

   Derived from verbs

l   Act as gerunds

  Reading Grapes of Wrath continues to be Ron’s infallible cure for insomnia.


l    and infinitives

  To live in the manner to which he is accustomed, George will need to earn at least $125,000 a year.

Participles are handy verbals

   Function as adjectives:


l   The man scolding that child is not the child’s father.


l   Present participles always end in ing.


Past Participles

   Usually end in ed


l   Exhausted, Fairfax stared at the AP test without understanding a word she read.

Absolute phrases add style–but use sparingly.

   His novel completed, Tom decided to go back to writing limericks.

   Edgar, his strength failing, reached for a can of spinach.

As always use good judgment

   Writer’s beware:

l   Just because you know how to subordinate, don’t go crazy!

l   Although you have complexity, you must aim for clarity!

l   Concise is still nice

l   Specific is still terrific!

Now…the World Series of Bad Writing

   You are free to chuckle, chortle, cavort, and snort! Peanuts, Popcorn, Crackerjacks.


   “He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.”


In the dugout

   “She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.”

First base

   “Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.”

Second base…

   “Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long it had rusted shut.”

Third base…

   “Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.”


   “She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.”

Now for the World Series

   “His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.”

Game One

   “He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.”


   “McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.”


   “The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.”

And the winner is…

   “The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.”

T-F 10:30
Chapter 9: Precision

Prose Style 9




      Theodore M Bernstein: If writing must be a precise form of communication, it should be treated like a precision instrument. It should be sharpened, and it should not be used carelessly.

 Growing Pains

Subjects and Verbs

Unify subjects and clauses

The principle at work

More disconnections

More subject and verb

Verb “is”

  Proceed with extreme caution!

When a predicate fails to match its subject…

      The predicate usually involves an “is” or any one of its relatives:

  Has been
  Have been
  Will have been
  Will be
  Should be

“Is” used with precision

      Two plus two is four.

      Life to the great majority is only a constant struggle for existence. (Schopenhauer)

      Life is one long process of getting tired. (Samuel Butler)

      Life is a festival only to the wise. (Emerson)


      The students’ anger over the rejection of the plan is chiefly the president’s refusal to explain why she rejected it.

      The students are angry about the rejection of their plan chiefly because the president has refused to explain why she rejected it.

Fixits 2

      Casal’s dislike for modern music was, as he said, its lack of “soul” – its inability to elevate the spirit.

      Casal explained that his dislike for modern music arose from its lack of “soul” – its inability to elevate the spirit.

Fixits 3

      The horror he felt while watching The Exorcist was the little girls hideous obscenities, not the idea of her being possessed by the devil.

      The horror he felt while watching The Exorcist resulted from the little girl’s hideous obscenities, not from the idea of her being possessed by the devil.

Avoid writing is when or is where


      The official cause of America’s declaration of war against Japan was when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.    


      The official cause of America’s declaration of war against Japan was the bombing of Pearl Harbor



      A quiet, book-lined corner of the attic was where she did her best thinking.


      A quiet, book-lined corner of the attic was the place where she did her best thinking.

Is that vs. because

      Best writers and editors prefer

  The reason is that


  Ex:  The reason Harry has become a Zen Buddhist is that his Aunt Edith has converted him.



      Dr. Robert Frost’s newest kind of therapy is much more exciting than his previous one.

      He has now decided that Yoga does more for his patients than the steam baths he was prescribing last week.

Some comparisons wander…

      Our cat chases worms as eagerly as birds.


      Does the cat chase both worms as birds?

      Or do birds chase the worms, too?

False comparisons


      Joseph finds the words of the Bible much more satisfying than Billy Graham.


      Joseph finds the words of the Bible much more satisfying than those of Billy Graham.



      According to Buster, the symbolism of Charles Schultz, the author of Peanuts, is more profound and comforting than Hawthorne.


      …more profound and comforting than the symbolism of Hawthorne.



      After the demonstrations and confrontations had subsided, Rebecca’s antiwar student group issued a manifesto that showed more good sense than the faculty.


      showed more good sense than any of the statements circulated by the faculty.

Like/unlike cause trouble

      Here’s a smooth use:

      Unlike the typical Sheldon student, Jordan rises at five o’clock every morning not to play video games but to read a few pages from Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates.

Sloppy vs. smooth


      Like Karl Marx, very few people get around to reading the works of the great English economist Adam Smith.


      Like Karl Marx, the great English economist Adam Smith is read by very few people.

More sloppy vs. smooth


      Unlike his sister, a  terribly poor education was all that Jorge received.


      Unlike his sister, Jorge received a terribly poor education.


S to 3rd Power


      Like California, all the favorite American virtues and vices can be found in Hawaii.


      Like California, Hawaii has all the favorite American virtues and vices.

Imprecise Comparisons

      No: Adam was less skillful at throwing passes than anyone on his team.

      No: Jon, the 200-pound wrestler, knew more about Christian mysticism than anyone in his discussion group.



      Yes: Adam was the worst passer on his team.


      Yes: Jon, the 200-pound wrestler, knew more about Christian mysticism than anyone else in his discussion group.


      Rule: Every pronoun should be entirely clear in referring to its antecedent.

Gross Violations!

      Johnson spoke with Brown only a few weeks after she had read her novel about the student rebels of the 1960’s.

      Tell your tablemates what is unclear about this sentence.

Gross Violations! 2

      When Norma got into that fierce argument with Natasha , she insulted her so often and so ruthlessly that she thought their friendship must come to an end.

      Tables, talk.

Gross Violations! 3

      Crime and Punishment is a great novel even though his final chapter leaves many readers dissatisfied.


      Tables, yack away.

Gross Violations! 4

      Jones was thought to be an authority on Greek philosophy, but actually she had never read them – had never so much as peeked into their writings.


      Hello? Talk!

Sometimes pronouns refer to ideas…

      Countee Cullen believes that all public schools are mediocre. This has led him to educate his children at home.

      Lucille Clifton arrived late, which surprised no one.



Handle such pronouns with care!

    They often lead to trouble! Watch out!

No – no - no

      Ernest Hemingway, appeared briefly at the party, which surprised no one.


      Tell your table what’s wrong with this one.

Let us repair…


      Randall Jarrell enlivened the conversation with anecdotes from his lion-hunting sojourn in Africa. This irritates his dull, stay-at-home wife every time he thinks about it.


      Randall Jarrell enlivened the conversation with anecdotes from his lion-hunting sojourn in Africa. His ability to enliven a conversation irritates his dull, stay-at-home wife every time she thinks about the safari.

Be careful that repair is awkward



      Modifiers must refer clearly to the words they modify.

Guilty!!! Unclear Reference!

      Madame Zapotka saw the nation enter an economic crisis and tumble into a depression while looking into a crystal ball.


      Repair this with your table.

More Guilt!

      Mrs. Grossenbacher looked at the students as they whispered, passed notes, and played blackjack with only faint signs of disapproval.


      Repair away!

Even  more!

      Semantics is the study of words that Kate considers supremely important.


      OK – repair on the double!

Last one!

      Julie’s psychologist advised her repeatedly to say to herself, ”Every day, in every way, I am growing better and better.”



Here’s the key…

Some modifiers lead to

      Leaking badly, James kicked over the pail in disgust.


      Repair away!

What about this one?

      Driving on the highway last night, two deer came into view as Joyce passed through the fields just outside town.


      Get out your hammer & nails!

Here’s the rule

      Each introductory verbal phrase should be followed immediately by the noun it refers to.

Before and Afters

Sentence endings

      Modifiers can get out of control

Verbal phrase issues


Julia darted a glance at her double-crossing friend Toofun, anxiously chewing her fingernails.


      Anxiously chewing her fingernails, Julia darted a glance at her double-crossing friend Toofun.



      The jet zoomed across the sky,  leaving only a thin trail of vapor, quickly disappearing in the gathering darkness


      The jet zoomed across the sky, quickly disappearing in the gathering darkness and leaving behind only a thin trail of vapor.

Final thoughts…

      John Gregory Dunne: Writing is manual labor of the mind: a job, like laying pipe.


      Concise is _____

      Specific is _____

      And precise is wise.

Chapters 10-12
Chapter 10: Transitions

Prose Style 10


The prose of skilled writers

l   Sentences are linked so well they “fit on to one another like the automatic couplings of railway carriages.”

l    Winston Churchill


l   Transitions are indispensable

l   “trans” – latin meaning across

l   Bridges across gaps in sentences

Markers: However; Therefore

l   Ex:

l   Helen was an exceptionally generous person. However, she was universally despised.

l   However forecasts a contradiction to come.


l   The town council was determined not to levy new taxes. Therefore, they did not agree to the new school project.

l   Therefore = consequence or result

Descriptive Markers

l   Here

l   There

l   Higher up

l   In the refrigerator

l  Easy to use

Narrative markers

l   Then

l   Later

l   Suddenly

l   On the third day

l   Still easy to use

Exposition and Argumentation

l   Markers are more difficult to use


l   Some people overuse the obvious…

l   First, second, third

l   In the first, second, third place

l   And so on…

Enumeration marks the immature writer

l    First, Jane let loose some jibes and insults. Second, her father-in-law became angry. Third, the two of them had a furious argument on Thanksgiving Day.

l    Better…

l    Jane’s jibes and insults angered her father-in-law and brought about their furious argument on Thanksgiving day.

l    (Notice active verbs!)

Useful markers to remember

l   In other words,

l   That is,

l   To repeat,

l   Briefly,

l   In short,


When you want your restatement to be more precise than the original…

l   To be exact

l   To be specific

l   To be precise

l   More specifically,

l   More precisely

Notice this smooth transition with restatement

l   Matthew Hopkins, a seventeenth century lawyer, attempted to subdue the Satanic forces of his beloved England. To be precise, he launched a campaign to exterminate witches.

For statement and illustration use…

l   For example

l   For instance

l   The soldiers carried out a strange kind of pacification. In the first village they pacified, for instance, they burned down all the houses and shot all the inhabitants.

And – the marker of addition

l   The battles of the Napoleonic era continued. And through all this period the shopkeepers and merchants quietly heaped up their profits…

What about using but or and at the beginning of a sentence?

l   Just do it!

l   Tell your teachers to read the great masters – George Bernard Shaw, Jonathan Swift, the King James Bible!

Special problems

l   Rule of thumb with…

l   Moreover  or furthermore – must be able to use “in addition” in their place

Moreover – correct use

l    Correct: Benjamin Franklin wrote political and scientific tracts and, of course, his great autobiography. Moreover, he was an accomplished satirist, an exposer of shams both personal and public.

l    Incorrect: Queen Elizabeth could not raise enough money for government expenditures. Moreover, she sold monopolies to greedy businessmen.

Moreover correction…

l   Queen Elizabeth could not raise enough money for government expenditures. Consequently, she sold monopolies to greedy businessmen.

Furthermore usage
(in addition must apply)

l     Correct:

l     Anthony Trollope each day added at least 2000 words to whatever book he was writing. Furthermore, he was active in other endeavors – family affairs, post office work, and card playing.

l     Incorrect:

l     Our nation has achieved unparalleled affluence. Furthermore, many of its people are bored, alienated, uncertain about values and purposes and the future.


l   Our nation has achieved unparalleled affluence. Yet, many of its people are bored, alienated, and uncertain about values and purposes and the future.


Moreover and furthermore

l   High style

l   Distinctly formal tone


l   If informal, use but, and, or besides.

Announcing contrast or change of direction

l   Yet

l   And yet

l   But

Using but for sharp contrast

l   E.M. Forster was a man of exceeding kindness. But it would be a mistake to look upon his kindness as a sign of weakness.

Still or Nevertheless

l   Still equals nevertheless

l   Nevertheless is more formal in tone


l   Francis Bacon, more than any other Englishman of his time, popularized the new science. Nevertheless, he failed to appreciate the importance of mathematics.

Other markers useful for contrast

l   On the other hand

l   In contrast

l   Instead

l   On the contrary

l   Ex: Senator Yamamoto will certainly win the approval of the Sons of the Golden West. On the other hand, he will lose the votes of all revolutionaries.

In contrast is sharper

l   The new contract delighted the teachers. In contrast, it infuriated the superintendent of schools, the principals, and all the assistant administrators.

Instead and on the contrary

l   Stronger than but or however

l   Can negate one idea and present a new and contrasting idea



Instead with example

l   Adam didn’t even smile when he saw the new bike. Instead, he turned to his father and whined, “Why didn’t you get me a red one?”

On the contrary

l   Walker did not believe in democracy. On the contrary, he yearned for an aristocracy in which he could serve as on eof the most intelligent, progressive, and comfortable members of the elite.

Repetition for transitional effect

l   When used well, this is powerful

l   Ex:

l   My opponent argues that this proposal would cost the state at least $3 million. Actually, the cost would not exceed $1 million.

Sometimes repetition grows tiresome

l   So, use synonyms


l   He has begun to question his family’s values and middle-class values in general. This skepticism has been both harmful and beneficial.

Pronouns also offer tight coherence without repetition

l   You have seen much of this while reading the archaic passages on AP practice tests.

Here’s another example:

l     The ladies have strange ways of adding to their charms. They powder themselves immoderately, face, neck, and arms, with pulverized starch. They are also most unhappily partial to false hair, which they wear in surprising quantities. This is the more to be lamented as they generally have very fine hair of their own. I suspect this fashion to arise from an indolent mode of making their toilet and from accomplished ladies’ maids not being very abundant. It is less trouble to append a bunch of waving curls here, there, and everywhere than to keep their native tresses in perfect order.

Interparagraph transitions

l   Better to use phrases than single words

l   Phrases need to refer back, non-repetitively, to the ideas before


Final thoughts

l   Always strive for

l   Coherence

l   Continuity

l   Clarity of ideas

Ask yourself…

l   Will my readers be able to see the connection between this sentence and my previous one?


l   How will I guide my readers into the sentence that comes next?


l   How can I show them the connection between this paragraph and the one I’m about to begin?

The point is…

l   Use the strategies until they become habitual


l   Concise is_________

l   Specific is_________

l   Precise is _________

l   And transitions are _____


l   Answer: Spice!

Quote on writing

l   There's nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.  ~Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith

M-F 3:30
Chapter 11: The Sound of the Sentence

Prose Style 11

The Sound of the Sentence

Why should the writer worry about the sound of his/her sentences?

o    Even if prose is not read aloud, it will be read with “the mind’s ear” – an inner sense of harmony or disharmony

The sensitive reader

o    Detects

o    Resents

n     Lapses in prose harmony:

o    Silly rhymes

o    Clumsy repetitions

o    Awkward collocations of harsh syllables

Who are sensitive readers?

o    High school teachers

o    AP teachers

o    College admission panels

o    SAT readers

o    Scholarship application readers

o    Job application readers

o    Prospective employers

o    College professors


Even the insensitive reader notices

o    Defects in prose rhythm

n     Deficiencies in clarity

n     Lack of forcefulness

How can you achieve a rhythmic, harmonious style?

o    Read good writers – and lots of them!

n     Read with a “lively appreciation”

n     Notice the “internal echo” in the mind

Gradually enhance your ability to recognize the difference between

o    Rhythmic prose

n     Virginia Woolf

n     Jamaica Kincaid

n     George Orwell

n     And….
        Newspaper writers (some)
        Textbook writers


About sensitivity…

o    The greater your sensitivity to harmony/disharmony in other people’s writing…

o    The better your sensitivity to your own strengths and weaknesses

Long-winded sentences

o    No pauses, commas, semicolons, or dashes!

o    Result: sounds inhuman

        Sounds like a computer

Don’ts and Do’s

o     Don’ts (notice length)

o     My failure to keep pace with the leaders of thought as they pass into oblivion distresses me and makes me wonder whether I am an absolute fool.

o     Do’s

o     It distresses me, this failure to keep pace with the leaders of thought as they pass into oblivion. It makes me wonder whether, I am, after all, an absolute fool.


Last words

o    Pauses are worth your attention

o    Notice how emphatic they are at the end of the sentence – the words immediately before the pause

Why should we care?

o    If the words are forceful

o    If the words express an important idea

n     Then the pause can leave them resounding in the reader’s mind


o    Avoid ending a sentence with trivial words

o    Otherwise, you are creating an anticlimax

The reader expects

o    The ending to be emphatic

o    The ending to deliver important words

Non-effective vs. effective

o     Non-effective

o     In reading about Genghis Khan, I was astonished by the magnitude of his power and by the viciousness of the cruelty that he displayed from time to time.

o     Effective

o     In reading about Genghis Khan, I was astonished by the magnitude of his power and viciousness of his cruelty.

Non-effective vs. effective

o      Non-effective

o      What Mailer means is that a woman’s monthly period may in some way disqualify her from piloting a 100,000-ton tanker into harbor, flying a Boeing 747, controlling a subway train, running a computer, or doing other work of a similar nature.

o      Effective

o      [What Mailer means is that] a woman’s monthly period may in some way disqualify her from running a computer, controlling a subway train, flying a Boeing 747, or piloting a 100,000-ton tanker into harbor.

Non-effective vs. effective

o      Non-effective

o      The board of education has postponed its decision on the issue of sex education until late in April, when a citizen’s committee set up to investigate the matter will deliver its final report, Mrs. Edith Ramirez, the board chairperson, has said.

o      Effective

o      According to chairperson Edith Ramirez, the board of education has postponed its decision on the issue of sex education until late in April, when a citizen’s committee set up to investigate the matter will deliver its final report.

Most effective

o    According to chairperson Edith Ramirez, the board of education has postponed its decision on the issue of sex education. The board will make its decision late in April, when a citizen’s committee set up to investigate the matter will deliver its final report.

Repetition and variety

o    You may often gain emphasis through repetitive rhythm.

Notice the forceful repetition

o    Lord Chesterfield to his son:

n     The pleasure is momentary, the position ridiculous, and the expense damnable.

o    (He was warning him against lusting after prostitutes.)

Watch out!

o    Overuse of adjectives and adverbs

o    Overuse of prepositional phrases

Not acceptable vs. Acceptable

o     Not acceptable

o     Several of the younger members of the families of prominent citizens were placed under arrest for the possession of various kinds of illegal drugs.

o     Acceptable

o     Several children of prominent citizens were arrested for possessing illegal drugs.


Not acceptable vs. Acceptable

o     Not acceptable

o     Many of the surveys by American sociologists in recent years have made a point of an appreciable degree of decline in our confidence in our institutions.


o     Acceptable

o     Recently many sociological surveys have shown that our confidence in American institutions had been declining.


o    Any series of words can be


Watch the use of polysyllabic words!

o    In audio-visual literature, technical terminology substantially facilitates communication efficiency, ensures sophisticated, professional expression, and achieves comprehension rapidity.


o    After reading this kind of sentence, we begin to doubt our own sanity!

Deadly phrases

o    Manpower utilization procedures

o    Teenager peer-group value system

o    Accuracy maintenance strategy

Instead…relax…sound human…

o    When writing about audio-visual equipment, you should use a great many technical terms. Thus you will sound like an expert. And at the same time you will make your prose easier to understand.

At the same time, avoid tiny word syndrome…

o    Small words move with ease where big words stand still – or, worse, bog down and get in the way of what you want to say. There is not much, in all truth, that small words will not say – and say, quite well.

Strive for balance…

o     Small word syndrome

o     All mud wasps built dirt nests hung from close trees.

o     Balanced

o     All the mud wasps built their nests out of dirt and hung them from nearby trees.

Repetition of words or parts of words

o    Why should we care?

n     It can achieve continuity between sentences

n     And – it can achieve emphasis.

John F. Kennedy
The Inaugural Address

o    …man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. [We offer a pledge] to convert our good words into good deeds,…to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty.


o      the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace

o      …only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed

Accidental repetition

o    Can be irritating…

n     When they are hunting antelope, the bushmen try to get within 30 feet of the antelope before hurling their spears at the antelope herd.

Irritating, definitely irritating!

o    At one time the Bushmen inhabited all South Africa, but today they inhabit only the Kalahari Desert. And now there is talk of permitting them to inhabit only the northern portion of the Kalahari Desert which is habitable at this inhabitable time in our inhabitable world.

Beware of elegant variation

o    They spend a few weeks longer in their winter home than in their summer habitat.

About alliteration

o    Can emphasize key words

o    The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

Alliteration for humorous effect

o    Fashionable philosophers

o    Pomposity of pedagogues

Unintentionally humorous = bad writing

o    Progression is not proclamation nor palaver. It is not pretense nor play on prejudice. It is not of personal pronouns, nor perennial pronouncement. It is not the perturbation of a people passion-wrought, nor a promise proposed.

         - Warren G. Harding, President

In need of revision…

o    The American Bar Association has pointed out that prospects for the profession seem unlimited. Prophesying prosperity, the association has proposed a plan for expansion of the profession.

Another one…

o    Although he was a serious student, he disliked courses with a strong stress on stringent requirements.

Tale of the scarlet harlot

o    Noah Webster, 19th century lexicographer

o    Devoted to cleaning up the Bible for genteel readers

o    Cast out stink, belly, bowels, breasts, womb, lust, fornication, whore, and derivatives

o    So…”the scarlet whore of Babylon” became – “the scarlet harlot”!

Writers on Writing

o    Paul O'Neil:   Always grab the reader by the throat in the first paragraph, send your thumbs into his windpipe in the second, and hold him against the wall until the tagline.

Writers on Writing

o    Alexander Pope:   True ease in writing comes from art, not chance.

Writers on Writing

o    Morley Callaghan:   There is only one trait that marks the writer.  He is always watching.   It's a trick of the mind, and he is born with it.

T-F 10:30
Prose Style 12: Parallelism

Prose Style 12


Parallelism is crucial to good style

n    Women are placed on the marketplace with fixed physical valuesso much for long blonde hair, so much for good legs, so much for small waists.


n    Rhetorical parallelism = grammatical parallelism + balance.

Humans are fond of

n    Symmetry

n    Regularity

n    Power of repetition

n    Forceful points


n    Experiment with zeal

n    Never too often at this point in your development

Note symmetry

n    Just when my husband granted that I was a person, just when he granted that I had the right to fulfill myself through a career, I discovered that I detested him.


n    Shakespeare’s noblest characters express sentiments of patriotic or personal honor which to young modern ears sound flamboyant or unconvincing.


n    Most forceful kind of two-part parallelism – balanced contrasts or opposites:

n    To the mighty general war was a glorious enterprise; to the plodding foot soldier it was a grimy hardship.


n    Ambition in a man is praised; ambition in a woman is denounced as unfeminine.


n    Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.

Martin Luther King

n    We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.

n   Martin Luther King, Jr.

Double antithesis

n    I was told about good but not about evil; I was shown pictures of saints glowing with ecstasy, but not of the damned souls writhing in the flames of Hell.

Three-part parallelism

n     The hippie “scene” on Haight Street in San Francisco was so very visual that photographers came from everywhere to shoot it, reporters came from everywhere to write it up with speed, and opportunists came from everywhere to exploit its drug addiction, its sexual possibility, and its political or social ferment. Prospective hippies came from everywhere for one “summer of love” or maybe longer, some older folk to indulge their latent hippie tendencies, and the police to contain, survey, or arrest.

Parallel series – Power of Rhythm

n    Our transportation crisis will be solved by a bigger plane or a wider road, mental illness with a pill, poverty with a law, slums with a bulldozer,  urban conflict with a gas, racism with a goodwill gesture.

l   -The Pursuit of Loneliness

Extended Parallelism

n    I spent much of my time photographing the living things of the Mohave Desert: cactus flowers in yellow bloom, an indigo bush with dark blue flowers, kangaroo rats hopping frantically over the sand, a vulture circling overhead, a rattlesnake basking in the sun.

Modern prose stylists

n    Use forceful rhythm of parallelism

n    Avoid tedious repetition

Modern AP students

n    Aim for graceful, inspiring symmetry

Take Off Your Gloves

n    Write! Write! Write!

M-W 11:30

M-W 11:30

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