30 Day Challenge: Write the first draft of your novel

Source: Jess Wilson, The Guardian
Source: Jess Wilson, The Guardian

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) doesn’t have to come only once every year. November isn’t the magic month where creativity peaks and words flow from your fingertips like liquid gold. Most of the time, depending on how you work, the writing process is complete and utter chaos. Plots start at the height of the action and then never come to a resolution, spend too much time on the setting and not enough time on character development, or the characters become too complex that you can’t see past them to the plot. These are common writing practices, and sometimes they work, but sometimes you can get lost in your own work. Creating a rigorous outline of your story will help you train yourself to become a productive writer.

There are six stages to this 30-day challenge. In the first week, you create your tentative outline including character, plot, and setting sketches as well as research strategies, the summary outline and any extra notes you may have. The second week consists of in-depth research. Delving into your characters backgrounds, the necessary details of the plot, and the facts needed for the proper setting. Once you have sufficient amount of information, the third week is spent introducing the formatted outline you created in the first week. In the final days of the challenge, you’ll be evaluating the strength of you formatted outline and finally revising your first draft. It’s important to have structure when writing, especially a schedule that pushes you to stay on target. It’s not impossible to write a novel in a month, but it’s definitely not easy. Challenge yourself. Check out The Guardian’s “How to write a book in 30 days” series.

6 Types of Irony

Source: The Oatmeal
Source: The Oatmeal

Irony (n): the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.

This is a blanket definition of irony when in fact; there are many different forms of irony. Too many people use irony as a catchall term to refer to anything out of the ordinary, amusing, or dramatic. The ignorance stops here. By understanding the various forms it comes in, you will (hopefully) use irony correctly.

If one of your friends or classmates comes to you and says, “I wish my professor would call on me more, I love the feeling of absolute terror you get when everyone in the class is staring at you.” Unless they’re some kind of masochist, they obviously don’t enjoy being spontaneously called on and suffering the scrutiny of their classmates. This is known as verbal irony though it is usually referred to as sarcasm.

The most common irony is situational irony, which refers the actions of someone based on an expectation that lead directly to the outcome they wish to avoid. For example, in the movie Shrek, it was expected that “love’s true form” for Fiona would be human when in reality it was an ogre because Shrek loved her ogre form.

In the works of drama or fiction, dramatic irony is when the reader or audience is let in on a fact that is unknown to most of the characters. The most famous example is in Romeo & Juliet when the audience knows that Juliet has taken a potion to merely appear dead, while Romeo only sees her dead body and proceeds to kill himself.

Cosmic irony would only be used for dramatic effect in real life, but it basically blames the gods or fate for having a hand in our struggles. For a fictional example, in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Lord Voldemort’s motivation throughout all the books is to kill Harry and in the end, that’s what destroys him.

The juxtaposition between a historical event and what has happened since to contradict it is historical irony. Leading up to its departure in 1912, the Titanic was declared unsinkable – and then it sunk on its maiden voyage.

Based on the Socratic teaching method, Socratic irony is feigning ignorance in order to get a certain reaction or answer out of someone. So when your professor asks you to read the material and then you come in the next day and they say “I don’t know the answer” as they sit back and ask you question after question and you end up teaching yourself – you’ve just become the victim of Socratic irony.

Check out more examples of irony at Huffington Post.

Social Media Buttons Don’t Actually Work

Social media buttons are an appealing concept when sharing your work is crucial to success. But do they actually work? According to Sam Solomon, web developer and entrepreneur: no, not really.

Anecdotal evidence shows that share buttons don’t actually garner very many shares. Scrolling to the end of an article only to find a string of logos with zeros (zero shares on twitter, zero shares on facebook, zero shares on Google+) is just going to reinforce that the article isn’t worth sharing. Even worse, the share buttons often bring up annoying pop-ups, which is a quick way to drive any user away… even if they DID like the content.

The solution is simple, but as usual, easier said than done. If you write something especially interesting to your audience, they will put in the effort to write a tweet, status, or blog post about it. Rely on the strength of your content. 

Where They Create: You Are Where You Work

The meaning and value of physical spaces becomes easier to overlook with each passing day bringing us further into the digital fold. To bring the focus back around, there is Where They Create, a project by photographer Paul Barbera. Where They Create brings the workspace back to the forefront, showing us the spaces where creative professionals and artists bring their work to life. Cluttered, clean, minimalist, eclectic – every space has a distinct personality that speaks to the process and thought-space of each individual artist.

For a quick peek into the lives of other creators, and perhaps a shot of inspiration, check out wheretheycreate.com.