more than just lines on a page

More than just lines on a page

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills has challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) use a line in your story. You can think of the variation of the word meaning, or you can think of visual references. Go where the prompt leads.

As an educator of young children, with a special interest in literacy development, I shouldn’t have needed to think for long. Although, there being so many possible ways of interpreting the prompt, I did. I finally decided on the lines that we as writers and artists make on the page, the meaning we assign to them, and the meaning others extract from them.

Children begin their journey into literacy by assigning meaning to marks they make upon the page and by realising that marks made by others also carry meaning. As their ability to both express and decipher develops, they come to realise that a text or image is more than the sum of the individual lines of which it consists. Communication deepens by interpreting and understanding the meaning conveyed below and between the marks.

The ability to both imply and infer meaning extends to the interpretation of facial expressions, body language and changes in the environment. We can accept what we see at face value or make a judgement about what may be implied or intended. While the messages are often considered obvious, misinterpretation is possible.

In response to Charli’s prompt, I’ve played with interpreting other lines. I hope you like it.

Reading between the lines - signs in the sand www.NorahColvin.com

Reading between the lines

Four lines of footprints stretched along the shore. A line, mostly unbroken, edged one side; the other, a sequence of dots. The smaller prints danced lightly. The larger dragged heavily with one foot sideways. Criss-crosses of triple-pronged seagulls’ prints failed to obscure, unlike the smudge of ocean’s wet kisses. Tiny crabs scuttled their own story tracks through weeds, shells and stones coughed up by the sea. Beyond a collapsed castle, the footprints continued. In the distance—rocks. So far?  He accelerated. Didn’t they know the tide had turned?  Caught in the moment, they’d missed the signs. Lucky he didn’t.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

30 thoughts on “More than just lines on a page

  1. Jules

    I enjoy being at the shore or beach and seeing the different lines ‘all’ the animals make.
    I imagine them sometimes as hieroglyphs imparting secrets. I also am amazed at those who work the seas for a living and can read the lines of waters and know the depths and or where the fishing would be best.

    My grandson is now interested in word searches. I save our Kids section once a week from our paper for him. Last time he was here I also showed him how he could hunt for new words in larger words. He was observant enough to find ‘Fart’ in the backwards word of Traffic. We had a good laugh at that.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      That’s right, Jules. Each of those lines has its own stories to tell, doesn’t it. It’s interesting to “read” them at times.
      Your grandson is a clever boy. I don’t think any of mine have found that word in traffic yet. Or they haven’t told me anyway. Funny indeed. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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  2. Charli Mills

    I hadn’t thought about the arrangement and interpretation of lines, but there you go, teaching me again. Norah, I have to say you really pushed into this flash and came up with evocative language to contrast with the twist of danger. It’s an exciting read that lingers as we wonder the fate of those who left the footprints and the (hopefully) would-be rescuer.

    Liked by 1 person

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  3. TanGental

    your writing gets more and more confident; as Anne points out some of your own imagery is splendid and very evocative, especially tipping along a neat little tale with worry throughout it. Good stuff

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      It is amazing, Lisa. I am always in awe of early childhood development. With your own child, you get to see it first hand and in detail. I love watching young children. They are amazing. Just like we were to learn so well. 🙂

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  4. Jennie

    Oh, you have hit the nerve, the wire, that ignites true understanding. Brilliant, Norah. Your prologue about children was passionate. It was important. Yes, it is more than just lines on a page. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. Annecdotist

    Thanks for making me stop and reflect on the marvel of being able to create and infer meaning from lines on a page or screen. Hurrah for the teachers who help make this happen!
    Well, you might have struggled to come up with the right angle for your flash, but the one you’ve posted is ace. Beautiful word choice – e.g. the smudge of ocean’s wet kisses; crabs scuttled their own story tracks; stones coughed up by the sea – and super narrative arc. We’re absorbed in the mystery of the various footprints so the danger and rescue is a pleasant jolt.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you so much for the depth of your response, Anne. I appreciate it greatly. Coming from such a talented writer, it means a lot to me. I did struggle to come up with words and phrases to express what was in my mind’s eye. I appreciate that you noted some of the choices I sweated over. I did want to show that stories, large and small, are everywhere. We just need to notice by reading between the lines, not necessarily print.

      Liked by 2 people

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  6. thecontentedcrafter

    I feel like you have managed to fit so much into these 99 words Norah – I come away intrigued by who the two who walk are and what is their further story and who is he who is aware of the turning tide and now must save them…. All this and the life that lives on the ocean’s edge amongst the flotsam and jetsam and bounty….. Vivid and compelling!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Your comment makes my heart sing, Pauline. I laboured over this piece, trying to get the words to say what I wanted. I appreciate your response and interpretation. Thank you. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  7. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    You’ve done it again. Yes, isn’t it amazing those scratches and squiggles that children -all of us- learn to interpret and pull meaning from? And as your flash also demonstrates, there’s plenty else to read too. I liked the busy page of sand in this, and the implied danger of its erasure.

    Liked by 3 people

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I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

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