Holiday story helps with peoples’ writing, says author

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HOUSTON — A holiday-themed interview with author Thomas Fellows.

JM: Why did you want to talk about the “Gift of the Magi” today?

TF: With the holidays approaching, there is going to be a lot of gift-giving, which is what the Short Story is about. I also wanted to instruct our viewers on how to get better at writing by using the dependent clause at the start of sentences.

JM: What is the “Gift of the Magi” about and how long does it take to read?

TF: First off, the “Gift of the Magi” is only six pages long, so it takes the average reader about ten minutes.  The two main characters are Jim and Della Young. They are a poor young married couple. While they do not have a lot, what Jim takes the most pride in is Della’s beautiful hair and what Della takes the most pride in is Jim’s beautiful watch.

JM: Thanks for setting the scene. What happens next?

TF: Because each one of them cares so much for the other, they decide to sacrifice the thing that the other one values the most. Della ends up cutting her hair to buy a chain for Jim’s watch and Jim buys an expensive comb for Della’s hair. Obviously, this is ironic, to be specific, this is a form of comic irony

JM: Wow, so each one sacrifices oneself for the other. Isn’t that called love?

TF: That’s exactly what love is. Below is the ending paragraph of the short story:

The magi, as you know, were wise men—wonderfully wise men— who brought gifts to the newborn Christ-child. They were the first to give Christmas gifts. Being wise, their gifts were doubtless wise ones. And here I have told you the story of two children who were not wise. Each sold the most valuable thing he owned in order to buy a gift for the other. But let me speak a last word to the wise of these days: Of all who give gifts, these two were the most wise. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are the most wise. Everywhere they are the wise ones. They are the magi.

As I say in my first book, which we talk about in a few weeks, “You never really love someone until you sacrifice for them; without sacrifice, there is no love.”

JM: Wow, that’s a powerful quote. So now on to the dependent clause. How do you suggest we use it in our writing?

TF: Using the dependent clause at the start of a sentence is what makes writing flow very well and makes it beautiful. Below are few sentences where I use the dependent clause:

  • Blessed with a tall stature, Thomas was able to get any girl he wanted. That is much more powerful and flows better than saying just, “Thomas was able to get any girl he wanted because he was blessed with a tall stature.
  • While I didn’t want to get fat, I still found myself ordering the chicken nuggets from Chick-Fil-a.  Compared with “I still found myself ordering the chicken nuggets from Chick-Fil-a even though I didn’t want to get fat.”

JM: Interesting. Thanks for tip. Does O. Henry use the dependent clause in “The Gift of the Magi?”

TF: Yes he does, a few times in fact.

  • Being wise, their gifts were doubtless wise ones. O. Henry says this instead of, “Their gifts were doubtless wise ones because they were wise.”
  • From inside the coat, Jim took something tied in paper. O. Henry says this instead of, “Jim took something tied in paper from inside the quote.

JM: Neat. I think that tip will help out a lot for our viewers. How often should you use this technique? 

TF: Definitely don’t go overboard with it but try to mix it in occasionally for best results.   

JM: Thanks for sharing, Thomas

TF: Thanks for having me. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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