Acrostic Poem-ability

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  • Basic Acrostic Poem Structure
    • First letter of each line is a letter from the Poem Title.

Elizabeth by Edgar Allan Poe (1829)

Elizabeth it is in vain you say
Love not” — thou sayest it in so sweet a way:
In vain those words from thee or L.E.L.
Zantippe’s talents had enforced so well:
Ah! if that language from thy heart arise,
Breathe it less gently forth — and veil thine eyes.
Endymion, recollect, when Luna tried
To cure his love — was cured of all beside —
His folly — pride — and passion — for he died.”
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  • Leveled or Poe Method Acrostic Poem Structure
    • Poem Title is written stair-step throughout the poem
    • First letter of first line; second letter of second line; third letter of third line….

Hidden Acrostic

I am flying, way up high, in the powder blue sky.
Maybe I will find myself among the puffy clouds.
Arms are well outstretched, and moving, fluttering, soaring.
So many Beautiful Birds flying along with me.
It is dark and silent here, not a sound can be heard.
One Bird stays close, as if leading me, I am not afraid.
With me every mile, does he think I am on of his?
I belong among them, flying high, so quietly.
With only my arms well outstretched, for I have no wings.
I open my eyes, It is quite misty, and still now.
And, I can hear, no more Birds are near, no sky to fly.
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Style Manual Wars

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“NEW YORK—Law enforcement officials confirmed Friday that four more copy editors were killed this week amid ongoing violence between two rival gangs divided by their loyalties to the The Associated Press Stylebook and The Chicago Manual Of Style.
“At this time we have reason to believe the killings were gang-related and carried out by adherents of both the AP and Chicago styles, part of a vicious, bloody feud to establish control over the grammar and usage guidelines governing American English,” said FBI spokesman Paul Holstein, showing reporters graffiti tags in which the word “anti-social” had been corrected to read “antisocial.”
“The deadly territory dispute between these two organizations, as well as the notorious MLA Handbook gang, has claimed the lives of more than 63 publishing professionals this year alone.” Officials also stated that an innocent 35-year-old passerby who found himself caught up in a long-winded dispute over use of the serial, or Oxford, comma had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”
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Me, Myself, and I…No, REALLY.

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Me and Tim, Tim and I

    • Wrong: Me and Tim are going to a movie tonight.
    • Right: Tim and I are going to a movie tonight.


    • If you take Tim out of the sentence, “you” are the subject.
    • You are going to a movie. When you’re going to a movie, what do you say?
      • I am going to a movie.”
      • You wouldn’t say, “Me am going to a movie.”
    • When you add Tim, the sentence construction remains the same.
    • You’re simply adding Tim, and it’s correct to say the other person’s name first.
      • “Tim and I are going to a movie.”
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If It’s Passive—Pass it…

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  • Passive voice produces a sentence in which the subject receives an action.
    • In contrast, active voice produces a sentence in which the subject performs an action.
  • Passive voice often produces unclear, wordy sentences,
    • whereas active voice produces generally clearer, more concise sentences.
  • To change a sentence from passive to active voice, determine who or what performs the action,
    • and use that person or thing as the subject of the sentence.
    • PASSIVE voice:
      • “On April 19, 1775, arms were seized at Concord, precipitating the American Revolution.”
    • ACTIVE voice:
      • “On April 19, 1775, British soldiers seized arms at Concord, precipitating the American Revolution.”
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Pre – Positional Is Where a Preposition Lives

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“Like adjectives and adverbs, prepositional phrases add meaning to the nouns and verbs in our sentences. There are two prepositional phrases in the following sentence:

The steamy air in the kitchen reeked of stale food.

The first prepositional phrase–in the kitchen–modifies the noun air; the second–of stale food–modifies the verb reeked. The two phrases provide information that helps us understand the sentence.

The Two Parts of a Prepositional Phrase
A prepositional phrase has two basic parts: a prepositionplus a noun or a pronoun that serves as the object of the preposition. A preposition is a word that shows howa noun or a pronoun is related to another word in a sentence. The common prepositions are listed in the table at the bottom of this page.

Building Sentences with Prepositional Phrases
Prepositional phrases often do more than just add minor details to a sentence: they may be needed for a sentence to make sense. Consider the vagueness of this sentence without prepositional phrases:

The workers gather a rich variety and distribute it.

Now see how the sentence comes into focus when we add prepositional phrases:

From many sources, the workers at the Community Food Bank gather a rich variety of surplus and unsalable food and distribute it to soup kitchens, day-care centers, and homes for the elderly.

Notice how these added prepositional phrases give us more information about certain nouns and verbs in the sentence:

      • Which workers?
      • The workers at the Community Food Bank.
      • What did they gather?
      • A rich variety of surplus and unsalable food.
      • Where did they gather the food?
      • From many sources.
      • Who did they distribute it to?
      • To soup kitchens, day-care centers, and homes for the elderly.

Like the other simple modifiers, prepositional phrases are not merely ornaments; they add details that can help us understand a sentence.

PRACTICE: Building with Simple Modifiers
Use adjectives, adverbs, and prepositional phrases to expand the sentence below. Add details that answer the questions in parentheses and make the sentence more interesting and informative.

Jenny stood, raised her shotgun, aimed, and fired.
(Where did Jenny stand? How did she aim? What did she fire at?)

There are, of course, no single correct answers to the questions in parentheses. Sentence-expanding exercises such as this one encourage you to use your imagination to build original sentences.”

Common Prepositions

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Pronouns — Good Rules & Evil Tips

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“A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun. Pronouns can be in one of three cases: Subject, Object, or Possessive.

Rule 1

Subject pronouns are used when the pronoun is the subject of the sentence. You can remember subject pronouns easily by filling in the blank subject space for a simple sentence.

______ did the job.
I, you, he, she, it, we, and they all fit into the blank and are, therefore, subject pronouns.

Rule 2

Subject pronouns are also used if they rename the subject. They follow to be verbs such as is,arewasweream, and will be.

It is he.
This is she speaking.
It is we who are responsible for the decision to downsize.

NOTE: In spoken English, most people tend to follow to be verbs with object pronouns. Many English teachers support (or at least have given in to) this distinction between written and spoken English.

It could have been them.

It could have been they.

It is just me at the door.

It is just I at the door.

Rule 3

Object pronouns are used everywhere else (direct object, indirect object, object of the preposition). Object pronouns are meyouhimheritus, and them.

Jean talked to him.
Are you talking to me?

To be able to choose pronouns correctly, you must learn to identify clauses. A clause is a group of words containing a verb and subject.

Rule 4a

strong clause can stand on its own.

She is hungry.
I am feeling well today.

Rule 4b

weak clause begins with words such as although, since, if, when, and because. Weak clauses cannot stand on their own.

Although she is hungry…
If she is hungry…
Since I am feeling well…

Rule 4c

If a sentence contains more than one clause, isolate the clauses so that you can decide which pronoun is correct.




[Although she is hungry,]

[she will give him some of her food.]

[Although this gift is for him,]

[I would like you to have it too.]

Rule 5

To decide whether to use the subject or object pronoun after the words than or as, mentally complete the sentence.

Tranh is as smart as she/her.
If we mentally complete the sentence, we would say, “Tranh is as smart as she is.” Therefore,she is the correct answer.

Zoe is taller than I/me.
Mentally completing the sentence, we have, “Zoe is taller than I am.”

Daniel would rather talk to her than I/me.
We can mentally complete this sentence in two ways: “Daniel would rather talk to her than to me.” OR “Daniel would rather talk to her than I would.” As you can see, the meaning will change depending on the pronoun you choose.

Rule 6

Possessive pronouns show ownership and never need apostrophes.
Possessive pronouns: mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours, theirs

NOTE: The only time it’s has an apostrophe is when it is a contraction for it is or it has.

It’s a cold morning.
The thermometer reached its highest reading.

Rule 7

Reflexive pronouns – myself, himself, herself, itself, themselves, ourselves, yourself, yourselves– should be used only when they refer back to another word in the sentence.

I worked myself to the bone.

My brother and myself did it.
The word myself does not refer back to another word.

My brother and I did it.

Please give it to John or myself.

Please give it to John or me.”

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George Orwell Asks Before Writing…Do You?

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 “A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus:

    1. What am I trying to say?
    2. What words will express it?
    3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?
    4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?

And he will probably ask himself two more:

    1. Could I put it more shortly?
    2. Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?

One can often be in doubt about the effect of a word or a phrase, and one needs rules that one can rely on when instinct fails. I think the following rules will cover most cases:

    1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
    2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
    3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
    4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
    5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
    6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.”   

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Trouble Your Readers Effectively

“The Inciting Incident as a Trigger

The inciting incident is the crucial event—the trouble—that sets the whole story in motion. It triggers the initial surface problem and starts to slowly expose the protagonist’s story-worthy problem. Now, the protagonist won’t fully realize the extent of his story-worthy problem in the opening scene, so the initial surface problem has to be so compelling that it forces him to take immediate action. The protagonist’s understanding of his story-worthy problem, then, will grow clearer to him as a direct result of what he goes through in his journey to resolve it.
Also keep in mind that each of the protagonist’s attempts to resolve the initial and subsequent surface problems must end in failure. There can be partial victories, but once an action ends in success, the story is effectively over. Success, in this case, means that all the problems are resolved. That cannot happen until the final scene of the story.
So, if we were to broadly outline the shape of a publishable story—the inciting incident and all its intertwined surface and story-worthy problems—it would look something like this:
    • The inciting incident creates the character’s initial surface problem and introduces the first inklings of the story-worthy problem.
    • The protagonist takes steps to resolve the initial surface problem.
    • The outcome of the major action the protagonist takes to resolve the initial surface problem is revealed, triggering a new surface problem. The scope of the protagonist’s story-worthy problem continues to unfold.
    • The outcome of the major action the protagonist takes to resolve the additional surface problem is revealed, and yet another surface problem is created. The story-worthy problem continues to become more apparent to the protagonist, as well as to the reader.
    • Another outcome is revealed, and more surface problems are created. The story-worthy problem continues to become clearer.
    • All lingering surface problems are resolved, and the story-worthy problem is fully realized. The resolution of the story-worthy problem is represented by both a win and a loss for the protagonist…..”
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Who, Which, and That…Oh my!

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Who, Which, That:

“Do not use which to refer to persons. Use who instead. That, though generally used to refer to things, may be used to refer to a group or class of people.

    • I just saw a boy who was wearing a yellow banana costume.
    • I have to go to math next, which is my hardest class.
    • Where is the book that I was reading?”

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