Friday, April 5, 2019

Writing Tips for Kids 8 - Use Specific Nouns



by Susan Stephenson, www.thebookchook.com



In 2018 I began a series of Writing Tips for Kids. This is the eighth in the series. Over coming weeks you’ll see more short articles, each of them addressing young writers, and dealing with a topic helpful to them. I’ve created a new List for these articles and will add to it over time. The List is embedded below.

How and Why to Use Specific Nouns

In Writing Tips for Kids 7, we discussed strong verbs and why we use them. We learned it’s about taking steps to make our writing more powerful. We choose the best words to to be really clear and descriptive. Just like with verbs, we want nouns that make a specific picture in a reader’s mind.

It’s much better to use a specific noun like Tyrannosaurus rather than a general one like dinosaur. Tyrannosaurus instantly gives readers a word picture they can see in their imaginations. If they read dinosaur, readers don’t know what picture to have in their minds.

Look at this sentence: “Marta jumped into the car.” We have no real idea about the car. It’s not an elephant, we know that, but Marta is jumping into some kind of thing made of metal with four tyres is all we know.

But if we write: “Marta jumped into the shiny red Ferrari” the meaning is clearer. We added extra with a specific brand of car, “Ferrari” and "shiny red". Readers can instantly imagine the car. They know its colour and get an impression that it’s fast and probably was expensive. They might even start to build a mental picture of Marta.

Let’s say your character, Vance, is climbing a tree. What kind of tree is it? If you tell us Vance climbed a tall gumtree, we can practically smell that eucalyptus smell of gum tree leaves, we might be able to imagine how the bark feels under Vance’s fingertips, and we get the idea that Vance is pretty brave to be climbing a tall gum. As a writer, you’ve chosen a specific noun - gumtree - that many Australian readers will be able to connect with via their senses. If we can pull a reader into our writing by appealing to their senses and emotions, it makes our writing doubly effective.

Can you make these nouns into stronger, more specific ones? bike: …………; dog: …………..; sport…………; toy …………….; game: ……………. creature: ……………….

Re-write the next sentences using strong nouns, verbs and other words you want to make the story clearer:

Chloe and Xavier could hear the creatures' noises as they came towards them. When they saw the creatures, their fear made them feel bad.

You could use your sentences as the start of your own story. Don’t forget, when you read through your first draft, look for verbs and nouns that will make your story clear and effective.

You might also like to read Writing Tips for Kids - How to Start, Writing Tips for Kids 2 - Write What You Know, Writing Tips for Kids 3 - Developing Characters, Writing Tips for Kids 4 - Writing Funny Stories, Writing Tips for Kids 5 - Start with a Hook, Writing Tips for Kids 6 - Remove Repetitions, Writing Tips for Kids 7 - Use Strong Verbs.


Clipart Credit: Phillip Martin

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