Written by Mel Wilkerson for the Newbie Callers or Callers In Training Facebook group.
From a thread on singing call figures in the Facebook "Newbie Callers" group. Apologies to Mel for not cleaning this up yet, this is just rough copy and paste.
depending on the figure you are using as your "theme" or "focus"....one practice suggestion given to me early was to take the figure and put it right near the end of the figure. for example....if I was using a standard focus figure then I would try and put flutterwheel at the end, or a single movement like pass thru or slide thru to a corner swing....this allows the dancers to "recover" with a known corner if there is a problem and also allows about 8-16 beats of music to sort the square out on the promenade.......once I have the end I want I will work backwards on the timing ......for example ..if I wanted to end my figure with a flutterwheel....sweep 1/4 (ZERO BOX) and swing corner + a tag line....then I WORK BACKWARDS.......I Know for flow that a standard flutterwheel works well coming off a right and left thru.......so I now have an ending....right and left thru, flutterwheel, sweep 1/4, swing corner and promenade..................---------- from there I think what is good to make facing lines....(of course...bend the line is good for that) so I add bend the line to the mix....I now have a figure that looks like BEND THE LINE, RIGHT AND LEFT THRU, FLUTTERWHEEL, SWEEP 1/4, SWING CORNER AND PROMENADE...--------------if I think about body flow for a second,,,simple flow leading up to a bend the line would be after a boys run from the middle of a wave....so I am going to add a swing thru, boys run before the bend the line......it now looks like this....SWING THRU, BOYS RUN, BEND THE LINE, RIGHT AND LEFT THRU, FLUTTERWHEEL, SWEEP 1/4 , SWING CORNER PROMENADE .....(Remember: I am working my checkers while I do this if you cant visualise it in your head yet)....working backwards I note that that swing thru has the boys in the zero box position but all the ladies are with their partners......to get to that zero box ( or zero wave) I need to trade the ladies position - and of course a great call for that is Ladies trade....my figure now looks like (from a zero box (or zero wave)....----LADIES TRADE, SWING THRU, BOYS RUN, BEND THE LINE, RIGHT AND LEFT THRU, FLUTTERWHEEL, SWEEP 1/4, SWING CORNER PROMENADE.......- from here I have a good flow, checking the timing I have 14 beats of music left (from the 64 beat figure) and I am starting in a zero box. All I have to do is figure out what to use as a get in.....something like....heads square thru 4, dosado make a wave (zero box/zero wave)...or what I would prefer...HEADS PROMENADE 1/2, PASS THE OCEAN, EXTEND....(zero box/zero wave) add the rest of the figure and I end up with ...---HEADS PROMENADE 1/2, PASS THE OCEAN, EXTEND, LADIES TRADE, SWING THRU, BOYS RUN, BEND THE LINE, RIGHT AND LEFT THRU, FLUTTERWHEEL, SWEEP 1/4, SWING CORNER PROMENADE............Iyou wanted to end for instance with a flutterwheel followed by a pass thru and swing corner (remember - keeping it basic here)...the principle is the same.......once you have two figures (enough for a singing call if you are one of those that uses multiple figures in your singing calls)..then all you need is to incorporate flutterwheels in your free flowing patter.....you can start with heads right and left thru, flutterwheel, sweep 1/4 pass thru, star thru...forward and back, right and left thru, flutterwheel, sweep 1/4, pass thru, trade by, swing thru, bend the line, right and left thru, flutterwheel....pass thru bend the line...right and left thru, flutterwheeel......reverse flutter..... and so on and so on ...it just carrys on fromhere.....have fun ￼ Mel Wilkerson ps....I noted I said up there that all the ladies were with their partners after the ladies trade....I mean the partner for that formation...in this case..side man and his partner and head man and his original opposite...I clarify because sometimes it is an issue. ￼ Heads (Sides) Square Thru, Do Sa Do, Swing Thru, Boys Run, Bend The Line, Right and Left Thru, FLUTTERWHEEL, SLIDE THRU, SWING CORNER PROMENADE.....Just thought I would add that to the above so you cansee what I meant....in this version the fluttewheel, slide thru gets me to the zero box.....working backwards is the same process....and using the same flow made it easier.....it worked exactly the same from swing thru, boys run, bend the line, flutterwheel......but instead of the sweep 1/4 ending I wanted the slide thru ending.....so working backwards...before the swing thru, I note that this little module starts and ends in a zero box.....all I have to do is time out an opening to get to a zero box...........
the last thing to point out on working like this, (backwards) to an identifiable starting formation.....you are not only writing modules, but zeros and equivalents.........take the two figures you have....as zeros, you now have two.....(zero box)...make a wave, ladies trade, swing thru, boys run, bend the line, flutterwheel, sweep 1/4 (zero box).............and the second, (zero Box) swing thru, boys run, bend the line, right and left thru, flutterwheel, slide thru (zero box).....but you also have a two get outs, (any time you see a zero box you can use that figure to flow smoothly to an allemande left in patter, ...you also have break and gather your thoughts zeros for any time you get into any box arrangement and you are not sure who is with who...and if you care to break these down further you have a few formation conversions in there as well....... ￼ working material like this for yourself,,,,,Not with a computer moving the dancers, and not just taking someone elses stuff but actually ripping it apart and looking at it, and working it out for yourself, will stand you very well in your calling carreer.