Tool 1-5_Skinner091113

1. Tool #3: activate your verbs.

Column published in Red and Black where I addressed those that pass out in public on campus.

2. Tool #5: Watch those adverbs

(sorry no link, my editor for the Oconee Leader doesn’t update the website too often) This is an article I wrote for the Oconee Leader about a local farmer and entrepreneur.

Here, I use strong, active verbs to create an image of a farmer and his beloved crops. When I looked back on this work I noticed the adverb “softly” could have been deleted in the phrase, “the sun shone softly on the un-ripe strawberries, and Washington kept his eyes lowered to the plants.”

On a Saturday morning, John Washington, a family man and farmer, walked the rows of his 17 year old strawberry farm. The sun shone softly on the un-ripe strawberries, and Washington kept his eyes lowered to the plants. He paused, bent over, and swiped the morning dew off of a pale green strawberry. He plucked the strawberry of its stem, and examined it closely.
“This spot looks like frost damage,” Washington said to himself as he gently handled the pre-mature strawberry. “I might send this to my pathologist.” He pocketed the strawberry and kept walking.
For nearly two decades, Washington Farms has provided locally grown, vine ripe, produce to Oconee County.
“I pamper my strawberries,” Washington said, and, in a ripple effect, he has pampered the community as well.
On Saturday April 30, the much-anticipated strawberry season will debut with Washington Farms’ first-ever Strawberry Festival. The festival will last from 9 am to 6 pm, and admission will be $8.

Traditionally, the entertainment at Washington Farms is picking the strawberries. For most people, strawberries come in a perforated plastic box, but at Washington Farms families come to hand-pick strawberries straight from the earth. The red-all-the-way-through strawberries are not the only reason why families pick strawberries for a whole afternoon.
“Here, there is no TV, no Xbox, and no radio. Here, families have the chance to actually talk to each other,” Washington said.
At the upcoming festival, strawberry picking will be available along with a slew of other festivities. Kids can bounce on the jumping pillow, be creative with arts and crafts, ride the cow train, pet furry animals, and much more. Others can enjoy the live bands that will perform throughout the day, and people with a sweet-tooth can enjoy homemade strawberry shortcake, and homemade strawberry and peach ice-cream.
“And when I say homemade, I mean homemade,” Washington reassured.

Washington Farms is sprawling with new ideas and projects. Blackberry and blueberry farms are budding, a new stage and selling booth are being built, and carts are being painted strawberry-red.
Yet 17 years ago, Washington Farms was nothing except for a nostalgic desire.
“I wanted to play in the dirt again,” Washington said.
He had no experience, no land, and no equipment.
“I made a lot of dumb mistakes,” Washington admitted.
Yet weather is beyond any rookie or veteran farmer’s control. In Washington Farms third year a late freeze destroyed over 60% of the strawberry crop.
“My family had the choice to go hungry or diversify,” Washington said.
That same year Washington rented land and began growing pumpkins. Ever since, Washington Farms has grown to a year-round farm for families to have fun and to provide locally-grown produce.
“Now I have the chance to help others,” Washington said.
Other local farmers seek John Washington’s advice, his five children have learned the value of real work, and Washington gives the community a chance to experience the farm-life.
“When I grew up, everyone had a garden,” Washington reminisced. “But these days no one has a garden.”
Thankfully, Washington’s garden has grown large eno#ugh to feed a community for many years to come.
As the sun rose higher and the morning dew dried on the strawberry plants, John Washington looked over his farm and couldn’t help thinking of the families he has met.
“Over the years I have watched kids grow up, and now those kids are bringing their children to pick strawberries.”

3. Tool #1: Begin sentences with subjects and verbs

Column by Nicholas Kristof, op-ed writer of the NY TImes

Nearly any of Kristof’s powerful columns on female oppression world wide is a great example of this tool. Kristof pull the reader in by beginning the two lead paragraphs with “Kaltouma Ahmed cried softly” and “As the men raped her”.

4. Tool #2: Order words for emphasis

NY Times article on released Syria video of rebels killing 7 military men.

This piece utilizes tool #2 throughout the entire piece because so many significant elements are revealed in the video. Rebels are using militarisitc-style of execution, they recite a religious fueled poem of revenge before the execution, and the unedited images of seven men losing their lives is chilling. Chivers successfully packs force (and chills) with every sentence by ordering his words for emphasis.