Random Challenge: Describe One Thing In Ten Ways

Terribleminds shares a writing exercise that can improve your writing, which is to take one thing and describe it ten different ways. Try it out. Pick a thing.

Here are the rules:

  • Focus on it and describe it multiple ways. Ten, as noted.
  • Each no more than a sentence of description.
  • (Feel free to choose a real world thing. Say, a lamp in your corner, or the flu you had last week.)
  • Differ your approaches in how you describe this thing.
  • Try pinballing from abstraction to factual — from metaphorical to forthright.

Here’s what I came up with:

After sitting in the car for ten hours, I was tired of traveling. My butt was worn-out from French kissing the seat. My neck was stiff like a pole. Like a baby with a wet diaper I was. Like an old and dusty bookshelf I felt. Frustrated and ready to stretch my legs. Connected like a group of organic compounds, waiting for H2O to break the bond.

Now you try!

The goal here is just to flex our descriptive muscles a bit.

Best of Twitter 2013

Twitter Glossary

NYmag.com

I could start this by stating that Twitter is an incredible micro-blogging site that has revolutionized social networks and connected the world in a global conversation like never before – but I’d be stating the obvious. The truth is, Twitter is one weird place. Sure, it’s just one of the more popular corners of the Internet to hang out, but, not doubt, it inspires some odd behavior. Round up all the humans with internet access, give them 140 characters to state their opinions and the ability to read and respond to almost anybody else’s opinion, and we’ve got ourselves a straight up verbal rampage on our hands. Should be fun.

Let’s look back on the most popular Twitter trends of 2013. There are the more well known entities that you couldn’t escape if you tried such as Horse ebooks or Doge. (So done, much annoying.) And then there are the obscure such as Twitter canoes or subtweeting (The overuse of mentions and the blatant disregard of them so people don’t know they’re being talked about.). Some of these may not have reached you in your corner of the Twitter-verse because – let’s face it – Twitter is huge and some conversations don’t quite circulate far enough. One thing’s for sure: there’s no end to these trends. As long as Twitter lives, grows, and changes, so will its users and the rhetoric they use. Check out NYMag’s 2013 Twitter Glossary for more trends.

Jeff Grabill at TEDxLansingED: Texting Is Good For Us

“I do know that if I put something like ‘Texting is good for us’ in the title of a talk, I am guaranteed an audience.”

The quote above is Jeff Grabill’s explanation for the title of his recent Ted Talk – and spoiler alert – he doesn’t actually say if texting is good for us. He does, however, offer an insightful look at the power of networks and writing education.

Speaking engagingly and intelligently for almost 12 minutes is a uniquely difficult (and anxiety ridden) task. “[T]he situation was challenging. [...] I had to try to be interesting, engaging, and absolutely on time in a speech situation that was basically live TV … and without my typical memory aids.” explains Grabill.

As a rhetorician, however, Grabill was uniquely prepared:

“To prepare, then, I relied on my rhetorical training (Ta da!). Specifically, I created a memory palace, a very old technique for recalling a speech. It isn’t memorizing the speech, but in a classic memory palace, you imagine rooms of a house/palace and what you will say in each room. During the talk, one simply “walks through the palace.” Another take on the memory palace can be found in this season’s Sherlock.

Jeff’s recommended TED Talks:

References for Writers

This tumblr blog is an excellent resource for everything writing related. With specific writing advice and a plethora of informational sites, they provide a list of links to resources such as writing websites and blogs, various dictionaries and thesauruses, grammar hacks, technical writing reads and much much more.

Under the Websites & Online References tab at the top, the blog lists a few of my favorite writing websites that I’ve linked to a few times here on the WRAC site such as Write to Done, CopyBlogger, TerribleMinds, and Daily Writing Tips. The blog also lists Grammarphobia, which I found an extremely helpful grammar resource that focuses on the particulars of the English language like when you should use “toward” or “towards” and what “beg the question” really means. This page also provides teen and young writer resources as well as links to helpful screen and scriptwriting resources.

referenceforwriters.tumblr.com

referenceforwriters.tumblr.com

The blog itself archives helpful bits of knowledge to aide in the writing process such as references for period clothing or what it would take to be a parent in a believable post-apocalyptic world or a lengthy list of alternate adjectives, adverbs, and verbs for ‘smile’. By collecting various infographics, advice, and research, this blog has become not only a valuable resource for writers but also a place for inspiration.

inklewriter: Get Your Writing Noticed

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 6.28.34 PMWe are constantly coming up with new story ideas, but we don’t know if they work until we actually execute them, and place that last period before writing the end. The ability to experiment is important, and sometimes a push is what we need. So, how about a free push from inklewriter? inklewriter is a free online way to create digital follow stories, which later you can publish as an ebook or link and share with the world. It’s a great tool for publication and recognition.

You don’t have to be tech savvy to create, share, or enjoy publishing great adventure, romance, fantasy or any type of stories that interest you. You can use inklewriter individually or collectively. Everyone can benefit from inklewriter. It is also a great way to integrate technology and creativity into the classroom. Clubs, organizations or anyone can use it as a fundraiser by creating books for free and selling them online.

The list of what you can do with inklewriter is endless and absolutely free.

Trial by Fire

Being controversial on purpose won’t get you invited to a lot of parties, but it might make you a better writer.

Defending your ideas can be terrifying; most people instinctively avoid confrontation. But debate sharpens both your ideas and your rhetoric. Early rhetoricians studied the subject for the express purpose of speaking in the public forum. They knew that ideas forged in the fire of controversy naturally become stronger – or, if they aren’t strong in the first place, burn out. And there’s nothing wrong with that. A weak idea that burns out is almost always a learning experience.

For some tips on how to actually go about raising some hell, check out this article at copybot.

 

PW Student-Run Website The Culture Bubble Launches

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Sometimes, opportunity knocks. Other times, you have to chase that sucker down the street. This is what Richa Choubey, senior Professional Writing/Information & Media student, had to do. Michigan State University has a lot of great organizations and resources as does the Professional Writing program itself, but she saw room for something more.

“I was in a Visual Rhetoric class with Haley and I was looking around and I just noticed that everyone was on Buzzfeed half the time. Even I was on Buzzfeed… For whatever reason it just dawned on me one day that that’s a perfect professional writing thing for us to have as a club. Wouldn’t it be cool if everyone was looking at our site instead?”

She saw an opportunity for students to collaborate, especially drawing on the versatility of PW students, and engineer a creative hub from the bottom up for student writers to publish their ideas. Together, Choubey and Haley Erb (Junior, Professional Writing) set out to gather writers and web developers to make the idea a reality. They focused on the idea of showcasing student’s work in an entirely student-made and student-run publication. Through word of mouth, the club grew steadily, surviving the summer break and gaining momentum through the fall. Thus, the Culture Bubble was born. The project, marketed as an opportunity to write in the style of sites like Buzzfeed and hellogiggles, attracted students for a variety of reasons, but most were drawn in by the opportunity to get real world experience and the freedom to write what they liked.

“I need a platform to launch the beginnings of a portfolio for my career and this is a great place for it.” Akshita Verma, a Sophomore in the Neuroscience (Pre-Med) and Journalism programs, explained. Similar to how the PW program strives to help its students produce impressive work for the real world, the Culture Bubble also provides opportunities for students to flesh out their portfolios and showcase examples of their work in a space made by students, for students.

The Culture Bubble has four sections that encompass their interests: MSU, Pop Culture, Sass, and Grab Bag. Where Sass includes snarky editorial-type articles, Grab Bag is the catch-all for everything that doesn’t quite fit into the other categories. Created during the inception of the Culture Bubble, these sections were based on topics members wanted to write about.

“I like that I am able to show off my own work, the work that I choose to make rather than assignments,” said Professional Writing Sophomore and editor of the Pop Culture section, Alyssa Smith. “I just like that I am able to show off my own work. I can choose what I wanna write about and how I wanna write about it.” While the club keeps frequent deadlines for articles to be finished, it encourages members to write about their individual interests. This not only strengthens the overall diversity of the material, but it allows students to explore topics they might not be able to otherwise.

“It’s nice to be able get a platform to publicize the stuff that you wrote in that sort of regard. It’s a kind of stepping stone to get my work around,” said Shannon Roe-Butler, a Senior in Professional Writing and English and the Sass section editor for the Culture Bubble. By establishing a student-made hub for student work, the Culture Bubble provides an admirable space for students to exercise creative freedom and showcase their individuality.

Choubey also hopes that it will provide a stronger network among alumni, comparing her experience in Telecasters to her vision for the Culture Bubble. “I already had a network there from the work that I had been doing. I knew that there were people out there that I could look up to and reach out to and have something in common with and I wanted that for Professional Writing as well. Because our alumni network is amazing, and they’re reachable, but there’s nothing that really binds us together other than the major. And while the major is small, there should be this concrete sort of thing that we can all bond over. Eventually one day we can all be a big family.”

Laura Julier, Director of Professional Writing and advisor for the Culture Bubble, expresses her hopes for the club and its future:  “I’m very excited to support PW students in organizing and creating Culture Bubble. It’s yet another example of students listening to one another, identifying a need, and creatively responding. Richa and Haley have been really smart in how they’ve imagined this as an online publication, especially in the structures they’ve created to curate the writing that will be published. I think these writers are going to reach an audience way beyond MSU.”

The website officially launches March 31st.

From Write to Done: How to write funny

Source: Write to Done

Source: Write to Done

Is there a sure-fire way to make someone chuckle? A secret word? A fancy structure? Maybe there’s an equation? Nope. The truth is that humor isn’t funny. You’re backpedaling now and re-reading the title aren’t you? Well, don’t worry because this is, in fact, an article on how to write funny. But the point of this is that if you look too closely at humor, jokes, and comedy skits – it isn’t funny. Most humorous statements are implausible and plausible at the same time, but the catch is that it must be more implausible than plausible.

Comedy is usually inappropriate for the situation and outrageous in context, but it keeps your audience from realizing that humor isn’t funny. Humor is downright logical. For example, most knock-knock jokes are about word play and have a strict structure about them. “Knock Knock!” “Who’s there?” “Doris!” “Doris who?” “Doris locked, that’s why I knocked.” Knock-knock jokes revolve around the identity of the person or thing knocking on the door. The absurdity comes from the mash up of the announced identity of the knocker and the prodding additional question “Who?” of the one who answers the door. Now, doesn’t that take all the fun out of knock-knock jokes? I’ve stripped the jokes of their humor by looking too much into it. Humor is logical because it’s all about the undeniable truth. Exposing the nugget of honesty in the bowl of absurdity. Read more about funny writing at Write to Done.