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Image Grammar

Page history last edited by Jayson Yeagley 13 years, 2 months ago

Painting with Five Basic Strokes

Harry Noden’s Image Grammar


The Five Brush Strokes

  • Painting with Participles
  • Painting with Absolutes
  • Painting with Appositives
  • Painting with Action Verbs
  • Painting with Adjectives shifted out of order


Painting with Participles

A participle is a verbal (verb form not functioning as a verb).  Since particles act as adjectives, they can modify either nouns or pronouns.

Hint-- Verb+ ing or ed or irregular verbs


Professional Example:

Shifting the weight of the line to his left shoulder and kneeling carefully, he washed his hand in the ocean and held it there, submerged, for more than a minute, watching the blood trail way and the steady movement of the water against his hand as the boat moved.   ---Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway


Student Examples:

Flying through the air on the wings of dream, the Olympic long jumper thrust the weight of his whole body forward. –-Cathleen Conry


The rhino, caught in the tangled rope, looked for freedom. --Erika Schreckengost





                                  Irregular verb—past tense


The clown, appearing bright and cheerful, smiled and did his act with unusual certainty for someone who had just killed a man. --Christi Flick 


Painting with Absolutes

An absolute consist of a noun or pronoun modified by a participle or participle phrase.  It has no grammatical relationship to the rest of the sentence; instead it stands absolutely by itself and is not considered part of either the subject or the predicate.  Absolute phrases may open, interrupt, or conclude sentences and are always set off with commas.




Hint-- noun+ participle (ing or ed) OR noun+ participle phrase







Professional Example:






The mummy was moving. The mummy’s right arm was outstretched, the torn wrappings hanging from it, as the being stepped out of its gilded box! The scream froze in her throat. The thing was coming towards her---towards Henry, who stood with his back to it-- moving with a weak, shuffling gait, that arm outstretched before it, the dust rising from the rotting linen that covered it, a great smell of dust and decay filling the room.













--- The Mummy by Anne Rice


Student Examples:

Mind racing, and anxiety overtaking, the driver peered once more at the specimen.

--Erika Stralka

I glanced at my clock, digits glowing fluorescent blue in the inky darkness of my room.

--Jenn Coppolo


Painting with Appositives

An appositive is a noun or pronoun placed near another noun or pronoun to provide more information about it.  Appositives often appear in appositive phrases along with other words that might modify them.  Appositives phrases may come before or after the noun or pronoun they provide more information about.


Professional Example:

Plowing through the choppy gray waters, a phalanx of ships bore down on Hitler's Europe: fast new attack transports, slow rust-scarred freighters, small ocean liners, channel steamers, hospital ships, weather-beaten tankers, and swarms of fussing tugs. Barrage balloons flew above the ships. Squadrons of fighter planes weaved below the clouds. And surrounding this cavalcade of ships packed with men, guns, tanks, and motor vehicles and supplies came a formidable array of 702 warships.

 --- June 6, 1944: The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan


Student Examples:

The volcano, a ravenous God of fire, spewed forth lava and ash across the mountain.

 --- Ben Quagliata


The old Navajo woman, a weak and withered lady, stared blankly. -- Jon Vadnal


The waterfall, a tilted pitcher, poured the fresh, pure spray into the creek. The essence of natural beauty, tranquil and majestic, it seemed to enchant the forest with a mystical rush that echoed throughout the untouched virgin paradise. --- Allie Archer


The fish, a slimy mass of flesh, felt the alligator’s giant teeth sink into his scales as he struggled to get away. --- Lindsey Kannen


Painting with Adjectives Out of Order

This is a simple process of taking a series of adjectives and placing them in a different part of the sentence.


Professional Example:

The Pavilion was a simple city, long and rectangular. --- Alienist by Caleb Carr


Student Examples:

The woman, old and wrinkled, smiled upon her newborn great-grandson with pride.

--- Stephanie Schwallie


The boxer, twisted and tormented, felt no compassion for his contender. --- Chris Hloros

Painting with Action Verbs

This is the process of eliminating the “passive voice” and verbs of being and replacing them with more active verbs.


Passive--Be verb+ ed

The runaway horse was ridden into town by an old, white-whiskered rancher.

The grocery store was robbed by two armed men.

Active --The improved versions

The old, white-whiskered rancher rode the runaway horse into town.

Two armed men robbed the grocery store.


Professional Example:

At once, the statue’s hump opened wide enough to admit a fairly thin person

Harry glanced quickly up and down the corridor, then tucked the map away again, hoisted himself into the hole headfirst, and pushed himself forward…The passage twisted and turned, more like the burrow of a giant rabbit than anything else. Harry hurried along it, stumbling now and then on the uneven floor, holding his wand out in front of him.

---Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling



So……. Why do writers paint with words?


Readers want a vivid picture.  An amateur tells a story, but a professional shows it.


Traits of Showing:

  • Considers using all the five senses
  • Includes specific details
  • Uses vivid verbs, adjectives, and adverbs
  • Uses comparisons such as similes








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