Craft: The Elements of Design in Writing

Anne C. Miles > Writing > Craft: The Elements of Design in Writing

I woke up with this. I think I dreamed about it. Sometime during the night I decided writing and design were the same thing. I remember my first Elements of Design class. We had to make these notebooks, a page at a time. We made the pages from construction paper and had to find examples of each element in magazines. We did one page a week. It was a pain, but the assignment stuck with me.

Yes, I’m a designer.

Repetition
Scale
Contrast
Color
Alignment
Line/ Shape
White space

So anyhow. This got me thinking about how I would do such a notebook with writing. You’d think I’d be able to find such in magazines. But no. For one thing, most magazines don’t have fiction. Or not much. For another thing, I really don’t want to fight for permission to use other people’s work. So I’ll have to write some examples myself.

Anyhow. Enough of that. Can I come up with snippets for each element?

I’ll start with an easy one. Repetition.

This is a favorite device of mine. If you’ll forgive me, my short story The Fool is a great example. It’s really short.


The Fool

The lemon meringue pie at Patti’s in Grand Rivers, Kentucky boasts a height of 4 feet, six inches. It takes two men four days to eat one, and a slice tastes better than ambrosia. Well. We was driven’ close to that neck o’ the woods and I said to my missus, I said, “Missus. We need to stop at Patti’s and get us some pie.”

My missus likes to eat, you see. I thought that pie would grab her.

Don’t you know what the missus said? She said, “What in tarnation are you thinkin’? We cain’t get no pie. We have the dog with us and it will die in this heat.”

Darned if she wasn’t right. I thought a second and then I had an idea.

“Don’t they have a pettin’ zoo at that place?” I screwed my face up, thinkin’.

“They do,” affirmed the missus.

“Well then, we’ll just ask them to add our dog,” I said. I was proud of my solution.

So we pulled up to the restaurant and I parked our Ford truck and we got out and went in. I walked up to the lady at the reception and asked her. I asked, “Ken I put my dog in yer pettin’ zoo? I’d like to have some pie.”

That woman just blinked at me. Then she said “’Scuse me.”

She went to get her boss.

Her boss was a lady who had had too much pie if you get my meanin’. She waddled down the steps of the office and came up to me and looked me up and down like I was a rodent. I tell you I mighta left right then, but I love my pie. So I asked her, I asked, “Ken I put my dog in yer pettin’ zoo? I’d like to have some pie.”

That woman just blinked at me.

I ‘splained. “It’s hot outside and even if I crack the winder, the dog cain’t take the heat. I hate to go on down the road but I’ll have to. But if he can sit in yer zoo then I can eat and he’ll be happy. You have a empty pen, I done seen it.”

That woman just blinked at me. Then she said “’Scuse me.”

She went to get her boss.

Her boss was a feller in a suit who looked like he’d swallered a mess o’ crawdads alive. But we got along fine. At first I was nervous with him on account of the suit, and the crowd that had gathered watching all this unfold, but I love my pie. So I asked him, I asked, “Ken I put my dog in yer pettin’ zoo? I’d like to have some pie.”

That man busted out laughin’ and clapped me on the back and said I was the best thing that had happened to him all day. So we went and got my Shih Tzu while he got his keys. Then me and the missus and the dog, and the crowd and the Boss marched out to the pen and he unlocked it and we put Killer inside.

Killer tilted his head at us and barked at the pig next door. The kids all petted him and everyone cheered.

Me and the Missus, we got our pie. I tell ya. I’m a fool for pie.


Anyhow. I was just thinking about this. Wanted to get the idea down before I forgot. I’ll do another page on a new element soon. I might even get out my construction paper.

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