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Showing posts from January, 2013

Essay Writing Techniques (with some Tips from Shakespeare)

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Are your sentences juggling too many ideas? This blog is a summary of sentence and essay writing techniques and strategies. 1. Creative Research Brainstorm all your ideas. Enjoy the sense of liberation and creative flow. This approach helps the researcher to identify the key words and concepts to be employed in the topic. Remember that it is easier to juggle words, and to move them around safely, than it is to juggle complex sentences. 2. Composition on a topic. Sentences are the building blocks of any essay. But start your work by exploring the key words and ideas. Sentences that communicate effectively are the life-blood of an effective essay. Well-thought out sentences run through an essay like veins and arteries. They distribute the oxygen of ideas to each part of the structure. Poor sentences rot the fabric of the essay; they cause decay and lead to death. Avoid flabby sentences. Cut out what is not needed. 3. Planning / Structure Identify the key clusters

Ethics in Creative Writing

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Is Ethical Judgment in Creative Writing still Relevant ? In the ninetenth century the discussion of the relation between Morality and Literature occupied a central position in the cultural field. A variety of earnest participants were able and ready to offer practical and theoretical perspectives and to debate the application of literature to life. This cosy relationship was disrupted in Europe by the traumatic experience of the first world war (1914-18). For many critics in the earlier period there was an intersection between social codes, aesthetics and ethical judgments. The project and trials of decadence in the 1890s began the work of critical interrogation by sending up the tired conventions of a smug, hypocritical, bourgeois society. But it was after the war that the cultural plane witnessed the revolutions of modernity. This movement turned art upside down, and led to the expulsion of referentiality in practical criticism. Art became a self suffcient verbal icons. Moreov

15 Reflections on Writing a Poem a Day

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A finely tuned callibration of sonic waves? Having started on January 10th, I'm now 8 poems in to my plan to compose a poem a day. At this stage I wanted to record my reflections on the project so far. 1. The poems are longer than I had imagined that they would be. 10 to 14 lines is not uncommon. Initially, I had planned couplets, fragments or 3-liners. 2. Perhaps related to the point above, there's a curious creative challenge to turn an 11, 12 or 13 line poem into a sonnet (14 lines). This helps to stretch my thoughts and ideas beyond the safety zone. 3. There is a stronger allegiance to traditional metrical techniques than I had anticipated. It just feels right to have lines that are 10 or 8 syllables. 4. Sometimes rhymes are entertaining and dare I say - delightful! The technical requirements that emerge have the effect of pushing creativity beyond the lazy or logical word choice 5. In summary, there's less of the radical innovation and free experimentati

52 Creative Writing Activities

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Beyond the apostrophe! In this blog I appear to have sketched out fifty-two creative writing methods, strategies, and some pedagogic principles. Please add your suggestions and ideas to the comments section at the end of this blog. 52 Creative Writing Activities 1. The Forked Paths This was a group exercise which was created on a large whiteboard. This game involved writing a story. At the end of each short sentence there are multiple pathways to carry on the story in different directions. 2. Adaptation Work with the children to adapt the activities described in this list. When a child says, But Can I Do It This Way , that’s music to my ears. But remember that this approach only works if teachers and learners are constantly thriving on new inspiration, outgrowing their comfort zones, and moving beyond dull repetition. 3. Bite Size Steps We create a three word poem. We can write the words anywhere on the page. The words can be small, medium or large.

Creative Writing: 5 Old Problems and 14 New Principles

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Why are boys underperforming in English classes? I am frequently dissatisfied with the resources on, and approaches to, Creative Writing in the Classroom. Five of the Problems: 1. Traditional writing exercises are predictable and dull: e.g. Describe an interesting encounter Make a story based on an overheard conversation Write on a topic chosen by the teacher Do a 60 minute exam essay. 2. Negative criticism from teachers just makes us feel embarrassed and reminds us of our sense of inadequacy. None the less, some creative productions are better than others, and children can be trusted to see this for themselves! 3. The disobedient curriculum. The creative activities outlined were exercises in being grammatical and were not a spelling test. It's so easy to pick on the tick and the cross, the right and the wrong. We need quality of expression rather than quantification of results. 4. There is a gender gap in English studies that needs to be ad

My five a day: writing poetry 1

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Five a day! This has been a long-running campaign to encourage people to eat more fruit and vegetables. Less familiar, but perhaps more significantly, this health drive was followed up four years ago with the mental health campaign proposed and promoted by Andy Gibson: mindapple (mīnd-ăp-´əl) • n.       a simple day-to-day activity that is good for the mind  The idea was once again featured in The Guardian earlier last year. It is difficult to quantify how much depression and mental health really costs the country, as there are so many ways to measure what it is, and quantifying its perceived impact is open to a variety of competing methodologies. But one estimate suggests that the cost in Britain alone may be more than $100 billion every year. That means that worldwide cost could be meausured in trillions of dollars. My recently adopted mind activity is to write a daily poem . In case this sounds elitist or exclusively literary, let me just be clear that my working