Prose

Modeling

Art Evangelist

Gerry Scott-Moore

Backstory

In the fall of 2020 the Echo Writing Group expanded by adding a twice-monthly Prose Modeling group. Rather than creative writing, it was intended to examine and discuss the mechanics of rhetoric by concentrating initially on sentence and paragraph structures, progressing to scene and narrative design.


The primary approach to fully absorbing these models was a simple creative game that presented real-time writing challenges to the participants.


I've stored here the materials we used. First is a distillation of the two chapters on basic and stylistic sentences from Copy and Compose by Weathers and Winchester. This book is to sentence and paragraph construction what Strunk and White are to grammar; indispensible. [Sadly, it is long out of print and unavailable, but here's your copy: Download Copy and Compose. Read it all later.}


I've summarized the book's definitions and put them into spread-sheets so that information is readily referenced, understood, and used in the game. See the Basic Sentences and Stylistic Sentences links in the sidebar to the left/


The Game

We begin by selecting a few sentence types. Next, we randomly generate ideas--an object, a verb, an occupation--to function as ignition. I get these realtime from the net (see Random Generators in the sidebar). We construct sentences conforming to the indicated models while using the generated words or any other idea we like. We write for 4 minutes.


Finally, we read the results aloud, critique them for how they reflect the model, and for the presence of image, panache, or wit. We take 4 or 5 minutes with this, and conclude one round.


For successive rounds, we change the sentence or paragraph type, generate we words, write, discuss. The documents and examples quickly make the process clear. See Basic Sentences, and Examples in the sidebar to the left.


Topics from Sun

In selecting topics for the Echo Writing Group I foraged through The Sun Magazine's Reader's Write column. We write up to 1,500 words of memoir or fiction while relating it, however obliquely, to the selected topic. Then we'd gather, read each aloud, and critique them.


The linked "Topics from Sun" document contains all the topics used in The Sun Magazine from 1978 through September of 2022. I've also provided an excel version.