RCL #3- It’s What I Do

In Lynsey Addario’s It’s What I do, there is a scene shortly after the liberation of Baghdad in which an altercation between American soldiers and Iraqi civilians becomes violent as Addario watches and photographs.  This scene in particular captured and enthralled me as I read because of its use of sentence structure to set a mood.

Here, Addario narrates with long, smooth sentences that get interrupted by short, choppy declarations.  These declarations serve to highlight the absurd, the important, and the dramatic moments within the scene.  More importantly, though, they make the reader feel as confused, unbalanced, and out of place as Addario did when she experienced it.  We are thrust from the comfort of complete and flowing narration to blunt and disjointed thoughts that put us on edge, which is a perfect feeling for the scene she described.  In addition, the breakdown of narration reflects the breakdown of peace and order in that scene and the disintegration of Iraq as a whole.  With a few sentence choices, Addario is able to convey not only what she feels, but also the chaotic atmosphere of post-Saddam Iraq.

In my own writing, I fall short on the structure aspect.  Too often, I rely on the comfort and safety of words and neglect the potential of the unspoken.  Just as in conversation, where half of what is said is through body language and tone of voice, the pacing and structure of writing conveys a message.  In my passion blog, I can use this technique in the same way Addario did, to convey subtly convey mood.  When telling a story, I can narrate how I remember, emphasizing flashbulb memories laden with emotion, instead of providing the whole scene.  For the more technical part of my blog, I can certainly use sentence structure to provide emphasis, but emotion might be a little harder to do.



I kneeled about eight feet from the scene and photographed, shocked by what I was witnessing.  What happened to “liberating the Iraqis?”  I was waiting for one of the soldiers to step in and stop the madness when I noticed an old woman in an abaya in the right corner of my frame.  She was about sixty years old.  She raised a propane tank over her head and smashed it on a crouching soldier’s neck.  I kept shooting.  No one even noticed me.

One thought on “RCL #3- It’s What I Do

  1. Hey, I love your description of the techniques that Addario uses and I think that the idea of using flashbulb memories is especially useful in a blog since you only have 500 words and you need to get to your point quickly. You said in your blog that you think emotion might be a little harder to convey, and yes that’s true but I think a well written (which I’m sure it will be) flashbulb memory is a strong technique to appeal to people’s emotions and the sentence structure will only emphasize this emotion, because with the structure of your sentences if you use the choppy sentences with the longer flowy ones I feel like the choppy ones often stand out to the reader so maybe you could use the choppy sentences to emphasize what you really want the reader to remember since they will more likely remember a short sentence rather than a long one.

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