Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Roar For Powerful Words

Szelsofa, the most articulate tree in the blog forest, has honored me by awarding me the Shameless Lions Writing Circle's "A Roar for Powerful Words" award. Thank you, Szelsofa. Seamus Kearney, a writer living in Lyon, France, began the award, just last November, and it's gone to literally thousands of blogs around the nation. Here is Seamus's explanation of the way it works:

Those people I've given this award to are encouraged to post it on their own blogs; list three things they believe are necessary for good, powerful writing; and then pass the award on to the five blogs they want to honour, who in turn pass it on to five others, etc etc. Let's send a roar through the blogosphere!

Here are my three things that make writing powerful:

1. Resonance. Charles Gramlich, a fellow Shameless Lion winner, did an interesting post on this subject. He writes of resonance: "The power of this approach is that it is all about the “reader” and not the writer. The reader feels the currents passing underneath..." Resonant phrases remain with the reader. In an example I mentioned in a recent post, Leo Durocher actually said, "The nice guys over there are in seventh place." It had no resonance. The sportswriters eventually changed it to "Nice guys finish last." That, Charles commented, had resonance.

2. A lack of pretension. George Orwell, in his essay, "Politics and the English Language," decries "pretentious diction," and goes on to translate a passage from Ecclesiastes into modern English:

“I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

And Orwell's modern version: “Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.”

The King James translation is resonant; Orwell's parody demonstrates the kind of pretentious diction that seems to dominate business and political writing.

3. Personality. Even in nonfiction writing, the personality of the writer comes through, or ought to. It's why Norman Mailer's coverage of the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention is so readable, even when we're not comfortable with some of his views. In fiction, the writer not only needs to present his or her personality, but that of the protagonist, and of other characters.

Here are five blogs which roar with powerful words:

Oliver's Offerings: Jana Oliver, whose time travel novel Sojourn contrasts a dystopian future world with Jack the Ripper's London, writes of the conventions and forums she's attended as a fantasy writer. Her rants on the political scene are not only entertaining, but well-reasoned. Jana was a classmate of mine at University High School in Iowa City, but she makes the list on the strength of her writing.

Simply Wait: Patry Francis, author of The Liar's Diary, is a writer of elegant prose. Her most recent posts tell of her recent battle with cancer, and what we all hope and pray is her victory over it. Her writing has been an inspiration to me and to many others,, including the author of:

Eudaemonia, Lisa Kenney's blog is just a delight to read. (The current post, "When Kids Get Life," is more sobering than her usual posts, but she bravely addresses a controversial subject.) While I've never heard her voice, I can hear a gentle, compassionate, yet persuasive presence when I read her work.. Her site also features artwork by her very talented husband, Scott Mattlin.

Slow Reads, by Peter Stephens, is just that. You need to read his posts slowly, but you'll almost always be rewarded. Check out "freshman comp" for a devastating critique of the way schools teach writing. And his Blogstroll links to interesting posts on many different blogs.

The Virtual Journey belongs to Julie of Kent, formerly of the English North Country. It's a blog with a very British accent. Scroll through the photographs of Britain's landmarks and countryside, and find fascinating essays on subjects ranging from Blenheim Palace to the Book of Ecclesiastes. Actually, Julie has four connected blogs, which can be reached through VJ.

I'm sorry I'm limited to five. Quite a few blogs deserve it, including Karen's Beyond Understanding (Sustenance Scout), Rebecca Burgess, and a new blog on my blogroll, Stress Management and Other Things, ( Tea N. Crumpet). In fact, I'd give it to every other blog on my roll if I could.

The green lion above is in thanks to Szelsofa, "the tree that stands on the edge of the forest."

One more thing: No obligation from any of the recipients to pass on the awards. I hope some do, but one or more of them may not be in a position to prepare such a post.


Lisa said...

I am humbled to be in the company of so many fine writers. I thank you for this. It is an honor.

Julie said...

Steve....WOW!!! From a rank (English) thanks. I deeply appreciate this.

I think it's a good thing that this award can be seen to represent so many different facets and approaches to writing.

Julie said...

...Just to add my congratulations on your award. Very well deserved.

Jana Oliver said...

This is amazing! Thanks so much! I just write when I'm feeling and hope the world finds some interest it.

And congrats on your award, as well. You've earned it.

Emperor Ropi said...


SzélsőFa said...

You deserved it well, Steve.
May the times bring many more interesting entries by you!

Peter said...

Well done, Steve! Your writing has been a joy to me for some time now.

Thank you for passing the award on to me! My site name has lately become my excuse for not posting more often. It's nice of you to even remember me! :)