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Stranger than fiction 1 Talking points Discuss how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements

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Adjective mastery
Alien Inimical Malicious Capricious Churlish Mischievous Infamous Uncanny

  1. Not matching or totally incompatible with the nature of something or somebody.

  2. Too strange or unlikely to seem merely natural or human.

  3. Not a citizen of, or not belonging to, the country in question.

  4. Unexpectedly accurate or precise.

  5. Unfavorable for something or showing hostility.

  6. Motivated by or resulting from a desire to cause harm or pain to others.

  7. Characteristic of somebody who is ill-bred; surly, sullen, or miserly.

  8. Intended to tease or cause trouble, though usually in fun or without much malice.

  9. Punishable by imprisonment or loss of civil rights, convicted of an infamous crime.

  10. Outside somebody’s normal or previous experience and seeming strange and sometimes threatening.

  11. Behaving or likely to behave in a naughty or troublesome way, but in fun and not meaning serious harm.

  12. From another world or part of the universe, or involving or relating to extraterrestrial beings.

  13. Having an extremely bad reputation.

  14. Tending to make sudden and unpredictable changes.

  15. Expressing somebody’s intention or inclination to have fun by teasing, playing tricks, or causing trouble.

C. Translate into English

    1. В Библии есть предсказание, что в Судный День гнев господень обрушится на головы грешников, вступивших в сговор с дьяволом.

    2. Он хотел попробовать себя в бизнесе, но никто решался вкладывать свои деньги в его дилетантское предприятие.

    3. Точность его предсказаний можно объяснить лишь глубоким знанием предмета.

    4. Стоило ему заняться астрологией, как он сразу был очарован этой наукой и вскоре из новичка превратился в настоящего профессионала.

    5. Когда на него обрушился гнев начальника, он понял, что обречен на увольнение.

    6. Эти религиозные убеждения чужды мне. Это объясняется тем, что я происхожу из неверующей семьи.

    7. Как только мать уходила из дома, девочка с большим проворством, переодевалась и воображала, что она фея.

    8. Он всегда напоминал мне добродушного великана, попавшего под чары взбалмошной и злобной колдуньи. Их союз казался мне необъяснимым.

15 Introduction to Writing a narrative composition

Telling a Story

A. Introduction

One of the standard types of composition is a narrative. The question often asks you to write a story that begins or ends with a particular sentence. Below is an example of how you can tackle the narrative composition following a number of clearly defined steps. The question on which the example is based is:

Write a fairy story that ends “... it was only then that it dawned on him how lucky he was to be alive.”
B. Planning and writing

Stage 1 General approach Work out a basic plot that answers the question. A basic plot might look as follows:
The central character, walking through the mountains at night, finds a cave. In the cave is a malicious fairy, a Duergar. During the night they sit by the fire. The fairy asks him to get some wood from the other side of the cave, but the man is suspicious and stays where he is. In the morning he wakes to find that the cave has vanished and that he is on the very edge of a high cliff, and would have died if he had gone to fetch the logs for the fire. Then comes the final sentence.

Exam tip

A Duergar is the correct technical name for this kind of fairy; in your own compositions you should not invent nouns, though you are free to invent surnames.

Stage 2 Brainstorming

1. Work out more details and think of a few choice expressions. To help with this step ask yourself lots of questions about the basic plot that you have thought of. For example:

Where did this all take place and when? Who was this traveller? Where is he going and why? What time of day was it when the story began? What was the weather like? Who arc the Duergars? How did he find the cave? What did he see when he went into the cave? Mow big was the cave? What did the Duergar look like? How did he feel when he saw the Duergar?

2. Think of another five questions that you might ask about the story. Compare your questions with those of someone else in the class.

3. Words and images. As you are asking and answering these questions, note down important points of the story in any order. In addition, as words and images come to you jot down the most powerful and most descriptive ones so that they can be
incorporated later in the finished story. The kind of words and images that might come to mind are:

Evil; towering pine trees; a rocky stream; menacing face; a vast, empty cavern; gnarled hand; flickering shadows; black thunderclouds heavy with rain; slanting green eyes.
Stage 3 Organization Arrange the ideas into a clear paragraph structure. For example:

  1. Introduction - time, place - information about Duergars.

  2. The night and weather – need for shelter – discovery of the cave – goes towards it.

  3. Description of the cave – size – the fire.

  4. The sight of the Duergar – description of the creature.

  5. The Duergar's trick – across the cave - the traveller does not fall for trick.

  6. The morning – wakes at cliff top – explanation of the Duergar's trick.

Look carefully at the words and images in stage 2 above. Which paragraphs would they most probably appear in?

Stage 4 Writing Here is an example of what the finished composition might look like.
Many years ago, a young man was travelling one night through a forest inhabited by Duergare, an evil race of fairies, who liked nothing better than to lure unsuspecting humane to their death.

As he was making his way down the narrow path, he looked up at the towering pine trees. Black thundercloud heavy with rain were racing across the sky and he knew that he would soon have to find shelter. Presently he saw the glow of a fire on the hillside and left the path to clamber up the steep slope that led to the entrance of the cave.

He stood at the entrance and looked in. It was a vast empty cavern whose sides rope up to a vaulted ceiling. On the ground m the centre a space had been cleared and a warm fire was throwing flickering shadows across the floor He went cautiously towards the fire and eat down.

As his eyes slowiy grew used to the dim light, the menacing face of a Duergar began to emerge. The creature was sitting motionless on the opposite side of the fire; it stared at him through its slanting green eyes but said nothing.

An hour passed, then two. The fire was dying down, so the Duergar picked up a log from the other side of the cave and threw it onto the flames. When the fire began to die down again, the Duergar waved ite gnarled hand frantically at the traveller to indicate that it wae hie turn to collect more wood. Suspecting some devious trick, he etayed where he was, ignoring the glowering looks of the furious Duergar.

The next morning, woken by the sound of mountain songbirds, the traveller was suddenly filled with terror and shock. Both the cave and the Duergar had vanished, and he found himself perched at the very edge of a massive cliff - he could just make out a rocky stream in the valley thousands of feet below. He realized that if he had walked across the cave to get more wood for the fire, as the Duergar had wanted, he would have plunged to his death. It was only then that it dawned on him how lucky he was to be alive.
Stage 5 Checking. This final stage is extremely important. Read through this paragraph and see if you can find ten mistakes. When you are ready, compare your corrected version with the correct version in paragraphs 3 and 4.

He stood at the entry and looked in. It was a vast, empty cavern who’s sides were rising up to a vaulted ceiling. On the ground in the centre a space was cleared and a warm fire was throwing flickering shadows across the floor. Cautiously did he go towards the fire, and sat down.

As his eyes slowly were used to the dim light, the face menacing of a Duergar began to emerge. The creature was sat motionless on the opposite side from the fire; it stared at him by its slanting green eyes but said nothing.
Focus on narrative tenses

At certain points in a story, it is often necessary to describe scenes in some detail. Look carefully at the tenses used in the following examples.

  1. Which tense is used to carry the plot forward and to describe actions that happen in sequence? One example is he looked up at the towering pine trees .... Find five examples of this in
    paragraphs 2 and 3 of the sample composition.

  2. Which tense is used to describe permanent features?

One example is the steep slope that led to ... the cave. Find another example from paragraph 3.

3 Which tense is used mainly for describing scenes?

One example is a young man was travelling one night. Find three more examples from paragraphs 2 and 3.

4 Which tense refers to actions that took place before the events in the narrative?

One example is Both the cave and the Duergar had vanished. Find another example in paragraph 3.
16 Writing a story
Write a fairy story that ends with the words

‘………..and at these words, he crumbled to dust on the doorstep’.

You may choose your own story or use the composition notes to help you if you wish.

Stage 1 General approach. Basic plot outline: a young man goes out one summers day and sits down beneath a tree on a hill: he hears a beautiful fairy melody and drifts off to sleep. In his dreams, he visits a beautiful castle where strange and wonderful creatures are having a celebration. He watches for a while. He then wakes up to find that the tree is old and withered. He walks home, but the house seems much older and covered in ivy. When he speaks to the people in the house, he realizes that he has been away for a hundred years, and crumbles to dust.

Stage 2 Brainstorming. Ask yourself a series of questions about the story and work out some of the details. Think of some phrases that can be used when you come to write the final version.

Stage 3 Organization. Plan paragraphs carefully, and assign the images and phrases up the paragraphs

Stage 4 Writing. While writing, pay particular attention to the tenses: towards the end, when you describe the changes to the house, you may need to use the past perfect tank extensively.

Stage 5 Checking. Check your composition carefully.
Imagine (v.), imagination (n.), figment of imagination

Illusion (n.), optical illusion

Reincarnation (n.)

Clairvoyant (n.)

Psychic (n.), psychic (adj.), psychic powers

Palmist (n.)

Fortune (n.), to tell the fortune, fortune-teller (n.)

Telepathy (n.), telepathic (adj.), telepathic powers

Dabble (v.), dabbler (n.)

Prediction/ predict

Text Harry Houdini



Pop up (phrasal verb)

Tempt (v.), temptation (n.), to resist the temptation, tempting (adj.)

Denounce (v.), to denounce smb/smth as


Confine (v.), be confined to bed/wheelchair, confined space

Suspend (v.), suspended animation, suspense (n.)

Survive (v.), survival (n.)

Bravery (n.), brave (adj.)

Dexterity (n.), dexterous (adj.)

Ingenuity (n.), ingenuous (adj.)

Explicable (adj.), opposite inexplicable

Feat (n.)

Trickery (n.)

Paragon (n.)

Virtually (adj.)


To be widely held

To have cool nerve

Expressions with ‘tie”

To tie in with

To tie up

To be tired up

Text about the TITANIC

Premonition (n.)

Curse (v.), curse (n.)

Doom (v.), doom (n.), Doomsday, doomed (adj.)

Text about Chris Robinson

Boggling (adj.)

Signify (v.)

Revelation (n.)

Imminent (adj.)

Uncanny (adj.)

Decode (v.)

Text The Paranormal

Divine (adj.)

Vision (n.)

Paranormal (adj.)

Gross (adj.)

To be in league with devil,

Attribute to (phrasal verb), to attribute smth. to smb./smth.

To be demonstrative of something,

To be overcome by something,

To undergo something,

Listening about Nostadamus

Prophesy (v.), prophecy (n.), prophet (n.), the prophet Muhammad

Infamous (adj.)

Vague (adj.)

Pinpoint (v.)

To be open to new ideas/interpretations

Listening about fairies

Giant (n.)

Dwarf (n.)

Spell (n.)

Stem from (ph. v.)

Alien (n.), alien (adj.), alienation (n.)

Inimical (adj.)

Malice (n.), malicious (adj.)

Spiteful (adj.)

Capricious (adj.)

Churlish (adj.)

Mischief (n.), mischievous (adj.)

Word combinations

To be favourably / well / ill disposed to smb./smth.


Imagine (v.)

can you ~ her as an actress?

I can’t ~ going to the party…

Imagination (n.)

vivid/ creative/ feeble/wild ~,

figment of imagination,

to excite/ fire smb’s ~,

to stagger/ stir smb’s ~.

Illusion (n.)

to create/ produce an ~,

to harbor/ dispel an ~,

optical illusion,

it’s an ~ to think that…,

under an ~.

Reincarnation (n.)

Clairvoyant (n.)

Psychic (n.)

Psychic (adj.)

psychic powers

Palmist (n.)

Fortune (n.)

1. accumulate/ amass/ make a ~;

come into/ inherit a ~;

to run through/ dissipate/ squander a~;

enormous/ vast/ large ~

2.The bad/ good ~ to do smth. (we had the bad ~ to get caught in the storm); ~ smiled on us; a stroke of good~; to tell smb’s ~, to try one’s~.

Fortune-teller (n.)

Telepathy (n.)

Mental ~.

Telepathic (adj.),

~ powers.

Dabble (v.)

To ~ at/ in (~ in politics; to ~ at painting).

Dabbler (n.)

Prediction (n.)

To make a ~; a ~ comes true.

Predict (v.)

He ~ ed their getting into trouble;

She ~ed that it would rain.

Skeptical (adj.)

To be ~ about/ of.

Skepticism (n.)

To demonstrate/ display ~; to treat with ~; to maintain healthy ~ about smth.; an air of ~.

Phenomenon (n.)

An isolated ~; a natural ~.

Burst (v.)

To ~ into (the mob ~ into the room, to ~ out of the room), the house ~ in flames; to ~ with pride; we ~ on them, they ~ out laughing.

Pop (v.)

We have to ~ into the store for a minute, I have to ~ round the corner, to ~ one’s head put of the window.

Pop up (phr. v.)

Although we arranged to meet he did not ~.

Tempt (v.)

To ~ smb. into doing smth.; to ~ smb to do smth.

Temptation (n.),

to resist/overcome the ~, to be exposed to/ face a ~; to succumb to ~; to place/put ~ in smb’s way; irresistible/ strong ~.

Tempting (adj.)

It was ~ to do smth.

Denounce (v.)

to ~ smb/smth as a charlatan; she ~d his drinking.


To ~ responsibility for smth; to ~ all knowledge of the incident

Confine (v.),

be confined to bed/wheelchair,

Confined (adj.)

~ space.

Suspend (v.)

To ~ hook from the ceiling; to ~ smb. from one’s duty; suspended animation.

Suspense (n.)

To bear the ~, to break the ~, everyone was in ~ over the outcome.

Bravery (n.)

To demonstrate/ exhibit/ show/ inspire ~.

Brave (adj.)

It was ~ of you to do that.

Dexterity (n.)

To demonstrate/ display/ show ~; great/ manual ~.

Dexterous (adj.)

Ingenuity (n.)

Human ~; the ~ to succeed where everyone else has failed.

Ingenuous (adj.)

It was ~ of her to solve the problem so quickly.

Explicable (adj.)

Inexplicable (adj.)

Feat (n.)

To accomplish/ perform a ~; a brave/ heroic/ remarkable ~.

Trickery (n.)

Paragon (n.)

To be a ~ of something.

Virtually (adj.)

Premonition (n.)

To have a ~ that something would happen.

Curse (v.),

to ~ smb. for smth.

Curse (n.)

To pronounce/ utter a ~; to put a ~ on/ upon smb.; to lift a ~; under a ~.

Doom (v.),

to ~ smb. to smth.

Doom (n.),

To seal smb’s ~.

Doomed (adj.)

To be ~ ed to smth.

Doomsday (n.)

Boggle (v.)

The mind ~s at the idea.

Boggling (adj.)


Signify (v.)

Their statements~ that no action will be taken.

Revelation (n.)

To make a ~; an amazing/ astonishing/ astounding / startling/ surprising/ ~; a divine ~; a ~ to smb. (the story was a ~ to us).

Imminent (adj.)

A storm is ~; he was faced with ~ death.

Uncanny (adj.)

It was ~ to see how closely they resembled each other; it was ~ that…

Decode (v.)

Attribute to (ph. v.)

to ~ smth. to smb./smth.

Demonstrative (adj.)

Smth. Is ~ of something,

Overcome (v.)

to be overcome by something,

Undergo (v.)

to undergo something,

Divine (adj.)

~ inspiration/ right, ~ weather, ~ hat (she looks divine in that new dress).

Vision (n.)

Acute/ blurred/ dim/ double ~; a ~ of the future; she had the ~ to make wise investment; a person of great ~; a field of ~.

Paranormal (adj.)

Gross (n.)


~ injustice/ negligence/error/ misdiagnosis/ misinterpretation;

~ vegetation of the tropical forest;

~ amount/ income (GNP);

in (the) ~ (syn. in bulk).

Giant (n.)

Dwarf (n.)

Spell (n.)

fall/be under smb’s ~, cast/put a ~ on smb, break the ~.

Stem from (ph. v.)

Alien (n.)

An Englishman is an~ in the US.

Alien (adj.)

Such ideas are ~ to us, an ~ environment, cruelty was ~ to his nature.

Alienation (n.)

~ from one’s old friends.

Inimical (adj.)

~ to (form. Actions ~ to the maintenance of friendly relations between two countries).

Malice (n.)

To bear ~ towards.

Malicious (adj.)

~ towards.

Spiteful (adj.)

It was ~ of him to say that; to do smth out of spite.

Capricious (adj.)

A ~ breeze/ girl.

Churlish (adj.)

~ person (bad tempered/ ill bread).

Mischief (n.)

To do smb a ~; to make ~ between (~-maker); boys are fond of ~; keep out of ~; to be up to ~; to get into ~; her eyes were full of ~, (where have you hidden my book, you little~?)

Mischievous (adj.)

A ~ letter/ roumor/ child/ looks/ tricks; as ~ as a monkey.

Disposition (n.)

The ~ of furniture in the room;

A man with a cheerful ~,; a~ to jealousy/ to take offence easily; there was a general ~ to leave early.

Dispose (v.)

To ~ of rubbish; the dictator soon ~ed of his opponents; to ~ smb to do smth; be well/ ill ~ed towards smb/ smth.

Prophet (n.)

A false ~; the prophet Muhammad

Prophesy (v.)

No one could ~ your becoming a governor; I ~sied that…

Prophecy (n.)

To make a gloomy~; a~ comes true; a ~ about.

Infamous (adj.)

An ~ behaviour/ plot/ traitor.

Vague (adj.)

A ~ outline/ demand/ idea; a ~ person/ looks/ behaviour.

Pin-point (v.)

Our planes ~ ed the target.

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