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52. How to End Your Talk.-You should plan beforehand how you are to conclude. Very few of your compositions will need a conclusion or summary. Plan to finish with a strong, forceful point. And when you have given that, stop.
53. Narration.—It is not advisable to attempt an original short story in the second form. The short story is a difficult thing to write out when you have plenty of time to study it, arrange its parts in their proper place, and set forth each character with dialogue suitable to that character. Tell a joke or prank played on yourself or some one else; tell about a trip or a personal experience.
The following topics are intended as merely suggestive for narrative oral compositions. They may help you to think of something similar and better.
(a) My Experiences as a Runaway from Home. (b) The First Formal Entertainment I Ever Attended.
(c) My Trip into a Coal Mine.
(d) Some Freshman Experiences.
(e) Snipe-Hunting with Father (how the joke was turned on the joker).
(f) My Biggest Scare.
(g) A Day of Bad Luck.
(h) A Case of Mistaken Identity.
(i) Locked Out at Night.
(j) The Time I put a Rubber Snake in my Room
A Narrative Oral Composition
SOME OF MY CANVASSING EXPERIENCES
Some two summers ago I tried to sell aluminum ware in the coal mining sections of . Almost every day I fell heir to some rich and unusual experience. Most of them are amusing to me now, but they were not so while they were happening.
I didn't canvass every house, but only those that looked "likely." One cloudy day I sized up a newly painted cottage, with a beautiful, smooth lawn and a brick walk, as being a place where people of good tastes lived. So I went in. In less than ten minutes I had sold the lady of the house over fifteen dollars worth of aluminum. When I completed the sale, I started to go, but it was raining too hard for me to brave it without an umbrella. So I waited for the shower to pass. The lady was very pleasant. She was well dressed, and everything about the house looked neat. She gave me some excellent doughnuts; and talked to me about her husband's work as manager of one of the large stores so common in mining towns. She struck me as having a rather good education and of being able to talk intelligently. We were talking away when I noticed that the rain had stopped. So I was leaving. But just before I closed the door she asked me in a kind of quaking voice, "Say, mister, do you happen to have any chewing tobacco? I'm about to die for a chew." I was sorry to disappoint her by having to answer "No."
In this same town I had another experience that was a bit different from the lady-tobacco one.
I always like to see my prospective customer at a distance, so that I can have time to "size him up" and know how to tackle him. It's rather a set-back to step up to a door and ring the bell and get all fixed in mind that a kind, motherly-looking lady is going to meet you with a "Why, come right in," and then be met scornfully by a lantern-jawed man who yells out "Whaddayawant?" Well, at this cozy house on the corner I knew there must be a lady who'd answer the bell, for I could see her moving about in the front room. I rang twice, with long waits after each ring, but still I could hear the lady walking about in the front room. I then "accidentally" passed in front of the window twice. She saw me and came to the door. I spoke to her, but she didn't bat an eye or say a word. She turned and went back, but was right back again with a long ear trumpet that looked like Balboa's blunderbuss. I explained over this "long distance" my business. She seemed interested, and invited me into the cook room. She was dazzled with all the wonderful things I had to say about my ware. I had sold her some twenty dollars worth of goods, and we were still talking about my marvelous non-burning pie plate. I held the "blunderbuss" in my left hand and talked to her through the muzzle, and at the same time manipulated a pie plate with my right hand. I had about sold her half a dozen of these pie plates, when the door was
pushed open by a large bull dog. He didn't have anything to say but seemed to want a bite. So I moved towards the table. The lady spied him and squalled out to me, "Jump on the table!" I did. And he did. Then she tried to hold him off with the "blunderbuss," but he wouldn't hear to that. He got me or rather my coat-by the shoulder. But it wasn't a new suit, and the bite didn't hold. I stole out through the door and slammed it in his face. I got safely out of the yard and then stopped running to look around. Everything was quiet where I had been, but I was suspicious of a watchful-waiting policy and didn't return for my sample case of aluminum ware. Next day I gave a husky truck driver a little note to the lady, requesting the return of my sample case. I got it, but one pie plate was badly bent up. The driver must have thought I was a coward, for he charged me two dollars for his service.
54. Description.-Well known, peculiar, or unusual persons and things are good topics for description. (See the talk on the "Turtle Man," page 186.) And so are famous places, objects, and great events.
Employ as concrete language as possible. Use words indicating motion and sound, and other expressions that appeal to our senses. Many great thinkers tell us that all our knowledge is gained through our senses; hence the significance of words appealing to
our senses. Describe your object in more than one position or attitude. If the object is a person, show him still, in motion, talking, and so on.
The abundant use of comparison to familiar things is most suggestive and helpful. Select such comparisons as will bring out your attitude or feeling towards the object described. In the description below, Irving wishes to arouse in the reader a feeling of humorous contempt for Ichabod Crane. Note his use of concrete words and ridiculous comparisons:
"His head was small, and flat at the top, with huge ears, large green glassy eyes, and a long snipe nose, so that it looked like a weathercock perched upon his slender neck to tell which way the wind blew."
The student who remarked that her teacher had "a mouth like a tiny buttonhole" said much in little. Subtle shades and distinctions are thus brought out by apt comparisons. An appropriate suggestion is better than a direct description, because we can read between the lines; it gives our imagination room to play.
In describing people, you can add to your oral theme by imitating the voice of the person described. This is one way in which oral work surpasses written. You can suggest a particular brogue, a nasal whine, or a drawl. But be on your guard not to overdo these imitations.
Long descriptions within themselves are generally dry and tiresome. Description is better when mixed with narration.