Throwback Thursday – Great opening lines from the 1950s

It’s gotta POP. It’s gotta HOOK people. It’s gotta JUMP off the page.

There are about a zillion weird cliché phrases to express one simple idea: you’ve gotta start strong. An opening line sets the reader’s expectations in any genre or format, and these 1950s novels all offer opening lines worth aspiring towards: 13 Greatest Opening Lines from 1950s Novels

My personal favorites?

“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” – The Voyage of The Dawn Treader

I read the Chronicles of Narnia back when I was in elementary school, and back in the days where a name was to be judged by how badly you could get bullied for it… deserving a name like Eustace Clarence Scrubb meant a lot.

And, of course, from one of my favorite novels:

“It was a pleasure to burn.” – Fahrenheit 451

It’s hard to even explain what is so perfect about this line, but if I must – it’s short, visceral, and full of promise. A perfect formula to fuel reader curiosity.

So whether you’re writing “The Next Great American Novel” or a short blog post for work, remember at least one variation of this cliché, because you only get one chance at a first impression.

First Year Writing Spotlight: Cultural Collaborations

Michigan State University offers many opportunities for cultural exploration and growth, but students sometimes overlook or miss these opportunities. Luckily, WRAC professor Cheryl Caesar and her teaching partner, professor Janice Stryz worked to change that. Together they led a collaborative course that paired students from WRA 1004 and WRA 150, and as Caesar explains, their goal was “to bring students of different national backgrounds together as ‘culture partners’, [giving them the opportunity] to interview each other about their cultures of origin.”

This is easier said than done at times, and there were distinct challenges along the way. One of the biggest challenges was putting together the groups. “A student who tends to participate minimally, or to arrive late, must be counterbalanced with a more outgoing and punctual student, or you end up with two partners from the other class cooling their heels and wasting their time,” said Caesar.

Despite the challenges, Caesar still recommends the experience overall. “Anyone who’s thinking of a collaborative venture should give it a try. It does involve some additional planning and setup, but the new energy and ideas it brings to your classroom are worth it.”

For more information on this project, check out the PCW workshop by Caesar and Stryz in 107 Linton on February 28, 2014 at 3 PM.

Keep Your Audience Engaged and Plugged Into Your Site

When managing a website one of your objectives is to keep your audience engagement up. It is important that your audience revisits your site, remains active with links, and tells others about your page. Copyblogger offers three ways in which your web design can better connect you to your audience.

One way to interact with your audience is to dig into their emotions. Emotions have a big influence on most of our decisions. Therefore, we can’t ignore emotions when designing websites. Choosing the proper font, shape, icon, or colors can affect the way people feel about your products and services. Try giving your brand soul. For instance, if you are aiming for light-hearted and funny, consider using joyful colors, smooth shapes, funny characters, and animations. It’s important to cater to the theme of your brand. For instance, Mailchimp is one website that has the light-hearted and funny theme with an amusing cartoon chimp as the mascot, and it works.

Keep in mind that you are designing for real people; it’s okay to include emotion, and tell a story. You might be wondering, “how can I tell a story on a website”?  One way is to design a layout in which your visitors can easily explore. Let your website lead your audience on where to start and how to reach the end. It’s okay to divide your content into different sections that still connect to your overall theme or service. Dividing your site into different sections will take the burden off your audience’s eyes. Don’t be that site that bores your audience with long paragraphs of text. Include graphics and videos when possible to keep your audience engaged.

With these concepts your website will be enjoyable, clean, fun and professional, and you will definitely better connect with your audience. Keep in mind the tips suggested by Copyblogger, and brainstorm what you can do to make your site more interesting and audience friendly.


How To Stay Awake In Class


Blah…blah…blah! You sit in lecture hall as you suddenly realize your professors’ words are becoming a blur, and you begin to doze off. WAKE UP! You don’t want to bomb the pop quiz or have a bad impression on your instructor. Staying attentive in class can be a challenge at times, but HackCollege offers a few tricks to help you stay focus, and I don’t mean the Internet. Instead, why not move to the front, second or third row. If you sit where the professor can see you, you will be more in tune and interactive. If the front seat isn’t for you, try participating more in class. Professors always remember the ones who ask questions or comment. There is nothing wrong with being the teacher’s pet, at the end of the day the grade is your goal. The next time you’re in class put these techniques into practice and you ‘ll see staying awake is no longer a challenge.