“All was now bustle and hubbub in the late quiet schoolroom. The scholars were hurried through their lessons, without stopping at trifles; those who were nimble skipped over half with impunity, and those who were tardy, had a smart application now and then in the rear, to quicken their speed, or help them over a tall word. Books were flung aside without being put away on the shelves, inkstands were overturned, benches thrown down, and the whole school was turned loose an hour before the usual time, bursting forth like a legion of young imps, yelping and racketing about the green, in joy at their easy emancipation.”
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
I found this used as an example of using detail in writing a paragraph in a 1949 copy of Plain English Handbook: A Complete Guide to Correctness
by J. Martyn Walsh and Anna Kathleen Walsh. What I like about the details in this paragraph is that even though the language is unfamiliar and different than ours today this scene could be rewritten in our modern language very easily. The details and descriptions would only have to be tweaked a little bit. Children getting released early from school today would most likely feel the same way as the children in 1790, only the language and details would change.
Today, take this descriptive detailed paragraph and rewrite it by setting it in another era and place. Try the 1970’s in New York City or the 1950’s in Wichita, Kansas. Or try your hometown in the year you graduated grammar school.
If you’d like to read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in its entirety. It’s available for free online. Now get back to work!
The Writing Nag