HOW TO WRITE – Ep. 2 – Dramatize!

professormatt_BackgroundHOW TO WRITE w/ Professor Matt is an animated web series that teaches the basics of narrative writing.  

In this episode:
-First drafts
-Figure out what’s working
-Dramatize, don’t summarize
-Eliminate repetition

Step 1

Read the Scene

Writer: Ariana
Title: “Play Ball!”

A scene from my childhood that I hold dearly to me would have to be the first time that I played softball. I remember distinctly waking up in the morning to a clear blue sky and a warm breeze coming from my bedroom window. I was ecstatic for what the day was going to hold and in my haze slowly creaked out of my bed and made my way to the bathroom. As I climbed up my little step stool I stretched my arms as high as they could reach and displayed the biggest smile that I could give. Directly after smiling at myself in the mirror I turned to my right to see my Mom in hand with my outfit for the day. Next to her was my tee ball bag that had my miniscule bat and glove along with my cleats. I have never felt so much excitement, I had been waiting for this day for what felt like ages! With all of these thoughts in mind I decided it was time for me to start getting ready for my full packed day of fun. My Mom helped me get dressed into my uniform and before I knew it I was ready to venture downstairs so that I could get a hearty breakfast in before I headed off. As I made my way down the stairs step by step I came to the table where I was welcomed by the most delectable looking breakfast. Some mickey mouse shaped pancakes with chocolate chips, a couple pieces of bacon, and a small glass of cold refreshing orange juice. It was exactly what I needed to start my day off right. Once I was done shoveling my breakfast down I grabbed my lunchbox which was filled with snacks and a water bottle and made my way to the infamous minivan where I was to venture off onto my journey in. One of my favorite parts of riding in the minivan is the fact that we have a television that sits directly in the middle of the van which was always very exciting for me because I adored all 1movies especially while in the comfort of a vehicle. As I sat down a little lower in my seat I was quickly mesmerized by an episode of Rocket Power and before I knew it the ride was over and we were on the field. I had in one hand my water bottle and in the other my lunchbox with my parents not far behind carrying my bag. Once I make my way to the benches I look up at the sky to see the glimmer coming from the sun and how it reflects off of the batting cages. It is quite beautiful and leaves me in a momentary trance. I realize that I am up to bat as the game has started and as I make my way to the plate I take a deep breath and pull back my bat and full force slam right into the ball on the tee.

Step 2

Watch the Video

Now watch the tutorial and see the text the way a published author sees it.  You can apply what you learn to your own writing.

*If you’re a teacher showing these videos in class, you can have your students add their feedback in the comments before watching. 1) Favorite line or image, 2) What you liked about the scene overall (what is its potential?), 3) How can it be better?

Matthew Ross Smith is an author and award-winning writing professor.  His first novel, Lizzy Legend (Aladdin Books/Simon and Schuster) is out in early 2019.

MORE!

SUBSCRIBE ON YOUTUBE

EPISODE ONE – YOUR OPENING LINES

EPISODE TWO – DRAMATIZE!

Comments

  1. Jake Rudloff says

    1. Once I was done shoveling my breakfast down I grabbed my lunchbox which was filled with snacks and a water bottle and made my way to the infamous minivan where I was to venture off onto my journey in.
    2. Yes, all I can imagine is some little girl dressed in her team uniform carrying a bat thats bigger than her.
    3. A little more to the story towards the end. like why was this first game of softball so important to her and what happened with her softball career.

    Like

  2. Jarrett DeBenedictis says

    1. My favorite part of the passage is the portion towards the end where they get to the field. I am familiar with this feeling as I played a lot as a kid. It always felt like I was walking out of the tunnel to play in the MLB whenever I took the field, so I can relate to the excitement of arriving.
    2. I liked the passage overall as it is compelling due to the ideal nature of the scenario. Reminding me of what it felt like to be a child.
    3. I feel that establishing why the girl wanted to play softball so much would have made the passage better as that would give more background to the reader about her motivations

    Like

  3. Gina says

    1. My favorite line from the passage is, “I remember distinctly waking up in the morning to a clear blue sky and a warm breeze coming from my bedroom window,” because of the imagery the writer uses.
    2. Overall, I enjoyed the detail the writer went into in describing the events of their day.
    3. Something I think the author could have done better is telling the story from more of a kid’s point of view, as opposed to looking back on it years later.

    Like

  4. Anonymous says

    1. “Directly after smiling at myself in the mirror I turned to my right to see my Mom in hand with my outfit for the day.”
    2. Overall, I liked how descriptive everything was and how excited she was about her softball game.
    3. I think this story could be better if it focused more on the actual softball game and how she felt after it, instead of describing in detail the breakfast she had before and how she only talked about the game at the end.

    Like

  5. Tenzing Shakya says

    1) My favorite line from the text was when the author descirbed the scenery and feeling when she entered the field. I favored this line in particular because it reminded me of times I use to get up for baseball really excited and fresh smell cut of grass and the blue skies over looking the baseball diamond.
    2) Over all I liked the passage due to the great detail it went and also about how it is about sports.
    3) The passage could be better if the author took away some unnecessary details that might bore the reader.

    Like

  6. Amy Shi says

    1. Fav line why?
    “I was ecstatic for what the day was going to hold and in my haze slowly creaked out of my bed and made my way to the bathroom.” I liked this line because of the diction and imagery; I could envision this little girl getting out of bed and making her way to the bathroom.
    2. Overall opinion.
    I thought the text was pretty descriptive. It spent a lot of time on describing the events leading up to a game of softball but didn’t focus as much on the game itself. The text itself wasn’t very engaging, nothing was overly comical or interesting that would capture the readers eye. Moreover, the vocabulary was lacking in some aspects.
    3. How could it be better?
    Focus more on the engaging part of the story. Use better diction throughout. Spend less time being descriptive and focus more on engaging your audience

    Like

  7. Sara S. says

    1. Once I make my way to the benches I look up at the sky to see the glimmer coming from the sun and how it reflects off of the batting cages.
    2. I like the imagery in the passage. From start to finish, I could imagine the whole entire scene. From stepping on a stool to the shape of the pancakes to the scene on the field, I could see everything. I think this overall made the passage so enjoyable. I could even imagine myself in the shoes of this little softball player. I like how I was able to relate to it and how I could feel like I was actually there.
    3. I think the ending could have been different. I wish the reader knew what happened when she hit the ball. Did she hit a home run? Was she out at first? We will never know. Other than the very end, I thought the story was very interesting and relatable.

    Like

  8. Anonymous says

    1. Some mickey mouse shaped pancakes with chocolate chips, a couple pieces of bacon, and a small glass of cold refreshing orange juice. The reason being it shows the wonders of being a child and how great food was especially in funny shape.
    2. I liked the scene, it definitely has potential, but overall I was able to see how excited she was and it was engaging to an extent.
    3. The story felt kind of bland, it seemed like a typical flashback passage. If it could find a way to be unique, I feel it would improve greatly.

    Like

  9. Anonymous says

    Favorite line- “Once I was done shoveling my breakfast down I grabbed my lunchbox which was filled with snacks and a water bottle and made my way to the infamous minivan where I was to venture off onto my journey in”
    What I liked overall- This excerpt reminded me of my own writing as a child. I like the addition of the fun and descriptive words, and how she used them to try to amp up the story. I could picture the scenes she was describing, and feel her excitement in her text.
    How could it be better?- Even though I enjoyed all her descriptions about her exciting morning, the point of the story was suppose to be about the first time she played softball, and she only mentioned the sport in one line. She used up her whole story talking about the events that led up to the first time she played, but didn’t discuss how the first game went for her.

    Like

  10. Milo B. says

    “I was ecstatic for what the day was going to hold and in my haze slowly creaked out of my bed and made my way to the bathroom.” was my favorite line just for its sheer relatability. Because both this story and Kid World are childhood memories, it’s nice to see something you can connect with, and this – albeit not exceptionally intriguing – was it for me.
    However, I think the story itself is quite lacking in some more minor details that cause it to fail to be engaging. The lack of any commas at all is distracting and confusing, the use of complicated words such as “delectable” (delicious) seem to break the character of a younger child that this is written from, and whatever a “1movie” is, it’s not described at all, which makes that entire section fall flat.

    Like

  11. Emi says

    1. –
    2. Probably written by a child.
    3. The story is supposed to be about the author’s first time playing softball, however it never describes the experience. The author should not have focused on the morning leading to the experience, but rather the exact memory she hols so dearly. The piece also has no paragraphs, no structure, so the author should’ve worked more on that.

    Like

  12. Bohdan Tokar says

    1. To start of my favorite line in passage one was, “As I climbed up my little step stool I stretched my arms as high as they could reach and displayed the biggest smile that I could give.” I decided this was my favorite quote because i could relate to it so well.

    2. Overall, the passage seemed to be a very good memory that the kid enjoys dearly because the made a lot of complements about his morning and everything before he actually played baseball.

    3. To make the writing better i would describe a lot more about detail because that’s what keeps the audience going and wanting to read further on. I would also not write clear blue skies if he woke up in the house.

    By, Bohdan Tokar

    Like

  13. Anonymous says

    1. “Next to her was my tee ball bag that had my miniscule bat and glove along with my cleats”.
    I liked this statement because the imagery of a simple t-ball/baseball bag gave me a flashback of when I was very young getting ready for a baseball game.
    2. Overall I liked the atmosphere of the story. I liked it because I can relate to this whole scene pretty closely and it makes me pretty nostalgic.
    3. I think this could be better if the pace was just slightly slower. I would appreciate some more detail about how this kid got from bed, to the bathroom, to the car and so on, however I am aware that it’s not a whole book.

    Like

  14. Anonymous says

    My favourite line from the passage would be,”I realize that I am up to bat as the game has started and as I make my way to the plate I take a deep breath and pull back my bat and full force slam right into the ball on the tee.” Overall, I think that the passage is quite well written, it’s full of positivity. However, I feel that for a passage about the writer’s first softball playing experience it doesn’t say much about softball or describes the experience itself at all.

    Like

  15. Noah Slattery says

    Favorite line: “As I climbed up my little step stool I stretched my arms as high as they could reach and displayed the biggest smile that I could give.“
    Like?: I did not like this passage at all. It read as a generic and the inconsistencies from her playing t-ball to softball. And the painfully standard word choice left me wanting more. The story wasn’t original either. I feel like it lacked any sort of trial or lesson or theme. Is was a small anecdote seen threw rose colored lenses that didn’t lead to anything. The one thing that I found consitant about this piece is how consitantly bored i was reading it

    Like

  16. Kathryn Swatek says

    Favorite line or image
    “As I made my way down the stairs step by step I came to the table where I was welcomed by the most delectable looking breakfast. Some mickey mouse shaped pancakes with chocolate chips, a couple pieces of bacon, and a small glass of cold refreshing orange juice. It was exactly what I needed to start my day off right.”
    What you liked about the scene overall (What is its potential?)
    I liked how the writer was able to tell a story about her memory as a child during a morning in only a few paragraphs. She is very descriptive when describes small details which help paint a better picture for the reader.
    How can it be better?
    I feel that the writer could either edit or delete the part where she talks about the car ride. I did not feel like it was a necessary detail to know about what she was watching. I think it would be more beneficial to know what she was thinking about the game rather than what she was watching.

    Like

  17. Channacy Un says

    1. “Once I make my way to the benches I look up at the sky to see the glimmer coming from the sun and how it reflects off of the batting cages.”
    2. In the particular scene described by the line above, the scene was quite suspenseful yet endearing because the main character is getting ready for her/his big moment. In general, the passage had a lot of sensory details which added to the excitement of playing softball not only for the main character, but also for the readers. Furthermore, the abundance of details from the character’s perspective and observations added to the drama of the story helped the readers easily immerse themselves in the short and sentimental scene.
    3. Although characters do not have to be fully introduced or “fleshed out” initially in the story, it would have built more suspense if the author would have shown the main character’s motivations and thoughts. Even though the character is implied to be excited, inner thoughts or dialogue could have added more character development without giving away the story too much. It would have also helped established a great story of a character facing both internal and external conflicts.

    Like

  18. Heng-Xin Wang says

    1) Favorite line or image,
    “I remember distinctly waking up in the morning to a clear blue sky and a warm breeze coming from my bedroom window. ”
    2) What you liked about the scene overall (what is its potential?),
    Overall, I like the scene because it paints a clear story about a little girl who is excited about her big day. The potential of the story can be found in it’s clear imagery and over abundance of details. The details are usually the author’s perception of her surrounding.
    3) How can it be better?
    The scene can be better if there are less details and more lines focusing on things that are important for the development of the story. This will make the crucial moments stand out more.

    Like

  19. Anonymous says

    1. My favorite line is, “… I make my way to the plate I take a deep breath and pull back my bat and full force slam right into the ball on the tee.” because the whole scene builds up to this point and there’s the obvious question everyone wonders, “what happened next?”
    2. I liked how the scene I could feel and picture the writer younger self being all innocent and excited for her first softball game.
    3. I would like to have seen what’s going through her mind instead of a narration of the day through her point of view.

    Like

  20. Pujan Pokharel says

    1. As I made my way down the stairs step by step I came to the table where I was welcomed by the most delectable looking breakfast. Some mickey mouse shaped pancakes with chocolate chips, a couple pieces of bacon, and a small glass of cold refreshing orange juice. It was exactly what I needed to start my day off right.

    2. I liked that the scene has included imagery while describing. After reading the line we feel like we are in front of the breakfast. We have an image of how the breakfast looks like with the mickey mouse-shaped pancakes and we can feel the cold refreshing glass of orange juice as we read it. This sensory information helps create a mental image in the reader’s mind to keep him/her engaged in the reading.

    3. I think the scene ended abruptly. It started with the narrator being so much excited about the game, but it ended right at the beginning of the game leaving readers with no clue.

    Like

  21. Carter Shook says

    1. My Favorite line is “Once I was done shoveling my breakfast down I grabbed my lunchbox which was filled with snacks and a water bottle and made my way to the infamous minivan where I was to venture off onto my journey in.”
    2. I really enjoyed that the scene was laid out very well where I could picture everything in my head and be able to visualize the whole scene as a movie in my head.
    3. I think the scene could be better by just being longer. If the author went into more detail about the game itself as it seemed like it reached the climax and ended abruptly.

    Like

  22. Marcus Sides says

    1) Once I make my way to the benches I look up at the sky to see the glimmer coming from the sun and how it reflects off of the batting cages. I liked this scene because after the whole description of the character getting out of bed and eating breakfast then getting in the car now the character is actually there and the suspense of what is to come grows.

    2) Yes, overall I liked this passage because it was able to make everything leading up to the climax seem interesting when doing those things like eating breakfast or getting dress would seem like boring topics to describe.

    3) I understand that the passage was about dramatizing in writing however I wish there was more description about being at the softball field and the feelings the character had while going up to bat. overall I think that that would’ve been a more interesting topic to dramatize.

    Like

  23. Audra Stein says

    1) My favorite line was “As I climbed up my little step stool I stretched my arms as high as they could reach and displayed the biggest smile that I could give.” I liked the self-confidence themes and the visualizing language.
    2)I liked how easy this scene was to imagine and how it was reminiscent of youth, being from a child’s perspective.
    3)I think that parts of this scene could have had a bit more detail. As I was playing through the scene in my head, it felt like some pieces were out of place or missing.

    Like

  24. Jonathan Tjahjadi says

    1. “As I made my way down the stairs step by step I came to the table where I was welcomed by the most delectable looking breakfast”
    This was my favorite line because some of my best memories were at a dining table with family just at the bottom of a flight of stairs.
    2. I liked that it describes what I believe to be the perfect start of a day.
    3. I think this scene in particular could have been significantly better if there were even more descriptions as she descends down the steps and gazes upon breakfast as a sight to behold.

    Like

  25. Deaglan Welsh says

    1. A line I liked was, ” I remember distinctly waking up in the morning to a clear blue sky and a warm breeze coming from my bedroom window. I was ecstatic for what the day was going to hold and in my haze slowly creaked out of my bed and made my way to the bathroom,” (Arianna).
    2. I liked how much I can relate to this peaceful scene since I usually begin my day by looking outside to see the clouds and plan out my day and then go to the bathroom.
    3. I feel like this scene could be enhanced if there was a sense of imagery about the morning sky or something of the sort such as, “the clouds shined brightly contrasted by the sharp and rich blue sky. My arms delighted at the breeze of the wind and my eyes widened to take in the beautiful bright light of the day.” or something like that.

    Like

  26. Anonymous says

    Roberto Valverde

    1- ” I make my way to the plate I take a deep breath and pull back my bat and full force slam right into the ball on the tee.” This line is something I can relate to, the first time I hit a home run was just like that. It all happened so fast and reading this line almost felt nostalgic to me. I also like the imagery used here; the author uses words like, ” full force”, and ” slam” to indicate the amount of effort that was put into the swing.

    2- What I like about this scene is the amount of imagery used. This scene is something that any reader can picture and some can relate to. I liked how the author explained things, its like its minimal but enough for you to get the tone of excitement and imagine the kid getting ready to go play ball. The buildup was great and the ending where the kid finally hits the ball was the cherry on top. The scene was simple and sweet.

    3- What I don’t like about the scene is that the car ride was completely skipped, there was no effort in that part of the story it was completely skipped. I feel as if the author could of done a better job representing the ride there and probably adding some nerves to the main character. Adding the car ride or at least about two lines explaining the ride would’ve been great. Typically on the ride to a game the nerves come in and I was expecting to see that.

    Like

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