It is always great to receive advice from someone who is an expert at their craft. F. Scott Fitzgerald, for example. Ernest Hemingway once described his talent “as natural as the pattern that was made by the dust on butterfly’s wings.” Open Culture recently released Seven Tips from F. Scott Fitzgerald on How to Write Fiction, pulled from quotations from the book F. Scott Fitzgerald on Writing, edited by Larry W. Phillips. Some of them include:
- Start by taking notes
- Don’t describe your work-in-progress to anyone
- Be ruthless.
Check out the rest as well as its companion article from Fitzgerald’s friend and rival, Seven Tips From Ernest Hemingway on How to Write Fiction.
With 7 out of 9 Oscar wins for Best Animated Feature film over the past 12 years, it’s safe to say that Pixar Studios has the story ideas and storytelling formula down pretty well. When you manage to make grown men cry (Up, Toy Story 3) from watching an animated movie, you know your story has heart and emotion and genuine feeling.
Open Culture recently wrote an article examining Pixar’s storytelling formula after reading former Pixar story artist, Emma Coates’s 22 Rules of Good Storytelling. The formula acts as a kind of “retroactive Mad Lib” that looks like this:
Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
Try it for yourself the next time you’re stuck or need a story idea. Plug in a character, what he or she or they do, a few conflicts, and a conclusion. It works with almost any story (as they give examples by plugging in characters and conflicts from well-known classics such as The Great Gatsby and The Grapes of Wrath). Be sure to check out the rest of Coates’s storytelling tips and see which ones work for you.
Here at MSU, we have the fortunate advantage of having a library that has a plethora of research material and books available for student use. If the library does not have the book you might need, they can acquire it from a local library or another university library without any additional charge to the student. This is known as the interlibrary loan, and many public libraries across the US are starting to utilize this feature.
A recent article on Neatorama highlighted this growing service. “Practically speaking, if you want almost any book and are willing to wait a few weeks, you can get it. And that’s totally neatorama.” I highly suggest utilizing this tool as it makes research and studying much easier.
Can social media determine how happy people are living in certain cities across the U.S.? In a recent article on Time’s News Feed, a new study by researchers at the University of Vermont studied over 10 million tweets since 2011 to determine the happiest U.S. cities and states. These findings were based on the use of positive or negative words in tweets.
“Words like “wine, gift, cheers, beach” and food-related words appeared more in happier cities and states while sad words like “boo, ugh, hate” and profanity were more prevalent in unhappy locales.” Researchers admitted, though, that a deliberate decision of the study was to ignore the context of the tweets as well as determining the difference between residents and tourists. The team hopes to continue this project and delve more into this issue in the future.
If there is anyone we should take advantage of the advice we are given, it is people in our dream profession who have already graduated from college and experienced what it is like to be in the “real world.” Take, for example, the new book, I Used to Be a Design Student: 50 Graphic Designers Then and Now. Compiled by Billy Kiosoglou and Frank Philippin, the two authors “set out to reverse-engineer the power of personal history by tracing the creative evolution of influential designers, who reflect on their education, profession, and how their preferences in everything from reading to food to modes of transportation have changed since their university days.”
The book features several “comparative grids,” short and sweet sage advice, and some of the designers’ most precious valuables and how these have shifted from “technical tools” to “existential anchors.”
Example of the “comparative grids” of the graphic designers from Then and Now.
Ever wonder if words we use today have been used before, but with different meanings? According to the slang dictionary from 1874, this is widely the case. For example, “tattoo” meant a pony, and “elephants trunk” meant drunk.
The Slang Dictionary: Etymological, Historical and Anecdotal was written over 140 years ago by John Camden. The dictionary has since been added to Project Gutenberg online ebook catalog and is now free in ebook format. (get it here!)
Download the dictionary and find out what other slang words had humorous meanings way back in the day!
If you liked our post about famous business cards, you’ll love this! Open Culture brings us six postcards from famous writers. F Scott Fitzgerald, probably under the influence of alcohol, writes one to himself. Ernest Hemingway sends one to his mentor, the contents of which would later attribute to his novel, The Sun Also Rises. Kurt Vonnegut sends one to David Breithaupt with a Nazi subject.
Not only are the contents of these post cards interesting, but the general design and history is fascinating as well. Take a look at some below, and read more about them in the article!
What makes a typeface good? Not only should a typeface look good, but it should also be good in the way it works. Smashing Magazine brings us a way to look at typefaces critically by using two simple steps; “select your sources carefully” and “study materials from these sources closely and critically.”
When selecting your source, you need to make sure that you are aware of the nature of the source and the experience of the source, as well as making sure you are keeping diversity in your sources.
After gathering your sources, the time comes where you must study and question what you have read. You need to look at context, evidence quality and completeness, and testability. Along the way you also need to be checking reality, motives, and post modernity. If you follow the steps that this article leads you through, you will be able to take a critical approach to thinking about typefaces.