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151. Emphasis through Proportion. If in the talk on your school you give half of your space to athletics, one naturally infers that you consider athletics of most importance. If you dismiss studies with two or three sentences, it is an equally natural inference that you consider that part of the school life of little interest at least to your audience. In the long composition, then, as well as in the paragraph, emphasis is a matter of proportion.
463. Choose a limited subject with which you are familiar, and which you consider suitable for a three-minute talk. Make the following preparation in writing:
1. Fix the point of view.
2. Fix the order of the topics.
3. Allot to each topic the proportion of time it deserves.
464. After getting all the help you can at home or from your friends, give the talk to the class.
465. Bring to class a plan and use it in writing the story of some novel you have recently read.
466. A pupil just back from a two weeks' vacation in Marblehead wrote an account which was planned as follows:
I. My visit to Marblehead. II. The historic Marblehead. 1. The War of 1812.
a. Marblehead's defensive work.
b. Marblehead's offensive work.
III. The present Marblehead.
a. Size, compared with early times.
In this theme, II received emphasis by proportion and III emphasis by position. If the pupil were asked to write a letter about
Marblehead to a man who is thinking of making his home there, how much of the above plan would he probably use? How much of it would he find useful in talking to a historical society?
467. Point out the value of making a careful plan even if you do not follow it closely. Explain Mr. J. M. Barrie's account of his experience:
There are writers who can plan out their story beforehand as clearly as though it were a railway journal, and adhere throughout to their original design — they draw up what playwrights call a scenario but I was never one of those. I spend a great deal of time, indeed, in looking for the best road in the map, and mark it with red ink; but at the first by-path off my characters go. "Come back," I cry, “you are off the road!" "We prefer this way," they reply. I try bullying. "You are only people in a book," I shout, "and it is my book, and I can do what I like with you, so come back!" But they seldom come, and it ends with my plodding after them.
468. Keeping in mind the suggestions derived from this study of the above plan, make a similar plan for a theme addressed to your class.
469. Revise your plan so that it will be adapted to an entirely different audience.
470. The following outline was written in preparing a theme to show what a pupil had accomplished during his first year in the high school. If possible, suggest improvements in itperhaps in the order of topics.
471. Make an outline of the school work you have done this year. Arrange your work so as to end with what has interested you most. Indicate carefully the main and the subordinate divisions of the subject.
472. Make an outline of an account of your own life, testing it thoroughly. Write the account.
473. Prepare an outline of a subject on which you would like to write, and for which you need several paragraphs. These subjects may be suggestive:
1. Lincoln's Boyhood.
2. The Preservation of Forests.
3. Ought Football to be played in High Schools?
4. Rome at her Greatest.
5. Scott's Boyhood.
6. The Italians of To-day.
7. The Autobiography of a Public Carriage.
8. The Persecution of the Jews. 9. A Letter to an Editor on a Timely Subject.
474. After testing the outline as thoroughly as you know how, write the composition. Then apply the same tests to the composition.
152. The Introduction. Just because a boy wishes to tell us about a day's tramping, it does not follow that he is compelled to mention the precise moment of his waking or the difficulties and the rapidity of his dressing. If he is to interest us in his trip, the sooner he gets under way the better. It is safe to make introductions brief and informal.
Irving begins his "Oliver Goldsmith" in this way:
There are few writers for whom the reader feels such personal kindness as for Oliver Goldsmith, for few have so eminently possessed the magic gift of identifying themselves with their writings.
"The House of the Seven Gables "
with these words:
Halfway down a by-street of one of our New England towns stands a rusty wooden house, with seven acutely peaked gables, facing towards various points of the compass, and a huge, clustered chimney in the midst.
475. Examine the introductory chapters of five stories. may include "Ivanhoe," ""The Last of the Mohicans," "The Vicar of Wakefield," "Silas Marner," and "The Alhambra." Take notes and give an oral report based on them.
476. Write an introductory paragraph of an account of a visit you once made.
477. Write introductory paragraphs for themes on two of the following subjects:
1. A Long Day.
3. A Morning's Drive.
4. An Old Friend (a person).
5. An Old Friend (an animal).
6. In the Train.
7. An Excursion.
9. A Tedious Hour.
478. Exchange papers. Condense and simplify the introductions as much as possible.
153. The Conclusion. You should think twice about your concluding paragraph. At times it should include a careful summary of your whole composition. Now and then you may think of an anecdote that will give point to all you have said. If one topic has led up to another naturally, you may need no other conclusion than a forcible ending of your last topic. A good story-teller, with his fondness for dwelling on the parts that please him most, is apt to be a long time reaching the end of his journey, but once there he knows enough to stop. As you hear lectures and ser
mons, you will probably make up your mind that both introductions and conclusions are better for being brief.
479. Examine several endings of chapters, magazine articles, books, and stories. Take notes, and give an oral report based on five of them.
480. Write the concluding paragraph of each of the themes for which you wrote introductory paragraphs.
481. In class, after a discuss on of several themes, criticize your own with a view to making the conclusions as brief and as comprehensive as possible.
482. Give the substance of Chapters IV, VIII, and IX. Prepare as in Exercise 9, page 6.
483. Write in three connected paragraphs the substance of what you can find in this book concerning unity, coherence, and emphasis (1) in the long composition, (2) in the paragraph, (3) in the sentence. (See the index.)
484. Tell the class briefly what you consider important to remember about (1) words in good use, (2) forcible words. 154. The Value of a Plan. In short, then, the composition whatever its length should have unity, coherence, and emphasis. If you would secure these characteristics, form the habit of simple, straightforward, vigorous thinking. You will find a plan helpful in determining the goal you are to reach, in keeping your path, and in spending your time along the way to best advantage. In making your plan, consider carefully (1) your point of view, and (2) the choice and order of the topics. Finally, remember that a careful revision of the plan may save hours of rewriting.