Margin Notes

Craft Studio: Takedown by Laura Shovan

Nov
26

What I Was Reading

Takedown is a wonderful middle-grade novel about wrestling, friendship, and facing stereotypes. Mikayla “Mickey” Delgado is ready to start a new season of wrestling. This year she is excited to finally be able to compete with the Eagles, however, her coach has different ideas about girls wrestling competitively. Lev Sofer is determined to make it to State this year. He’ll have to defeat his biggest competitor and nemesis, Nick Spence, and he’s ready to do whatever it takes. After they are paired as practice partners, Mickey and Lev develop a friendship. Unfortunately, the reality is that only one of them can win.

In this passage, Lev is reflecting on his love for the sport of wrestling:

“Why do I love this sport? Who wants to leave the house before six a.m. on a holiday weekend? It’s cold enough to freeze the boogers inside my nose. But late this morning I’ll have a great match. I’ll feel my opponent hesitate for a second, my instincts will kick in, and the other guy will be on his chest and Slap! The ref’s hand will come down and I’ll be standing in the center of the mat, victorious.”

What Moves I Notice the Writer Making

* This short paragraph is organized as a question-and-answer. The first question is general, but the second one, “Who wants to leave the house before six a.m. on a holiday weekend?” acknowledges that Lev recognizes that the commitments required by his beloved sport might not hold the same appeal for everyone. He then answers his own question with the best-case scenario: a victory.

* The specific detail about the temperature being “cold enough to freeze the boogers in my nose” makes the early morning travel seem even less appealing. This small observation also adds authenticity and personality to the description.

* As Lev goes on to answer his own question, he begins the first sentence with “but,” signalling that he is transitioning from the negative aspects of his sport to the positive. He acknowledges the challenges, but he is going to tell us about the things that make them worth it. He envisions a victory that will compensate for all of the hard work and sacrifice.

* The sound effect “Slap!” adds energy to this brief scene. Lev is imagining every detail down to the sound of the ref’s hand on the mat when he pins his opponent.

* The structure of the final sentence adds a nice element of sentence variety. It also ensures that the last word is the most important of all, “victorious.”

Possibilities for Writers

* Read this passage as a writer to notice and name other interesting craft moves and discuss how they impact you as a reader.

* Describe something you love (or maybe something you don’t) by trying out this organizing structure:

Why do I love (despise) __________? It’s… But…

* Find a place in your notebook where you can revise a description by adding a detail like “It’s __________ enough to __________” so that you also reveal something about the speaker through the comparison they are making.

* Add a sound or action detail to a description.

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