Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What Is Style Pt. 2

Style has to do with the choices that a writer makes in his work. For the most part, style comes naturally. It is something that is enhanced and fine-tuned over the course of many works--the more the better. I think that style may be somewhat of a conscious thing; writers are aware of the decisions they are making, but a lot of it comes naturally.

When talking about writing, style would obviously have a lot to do with word choices. So many different words can be used to make a point and the fact that those words are chosen at the discretion of the writer helps define his style. Using those words to elaborate on a subject also means choosing a direction in which to approach that subject. "Recount the process of creating a 3-panel comic" can be a task that some writers choose to do step-by-step, or out of order--while jumping from point to point. Essays are different in their formatting, as well as the more obvious word choices.

Through writing multiple essays for this course and reading other people's essays during peer review, the issue of different styles is reiterated. Just as reading several works by the same author reveals their personal style, going through drafts of a classmate's essay makes it evident that though the essay has been revised, it is still written in the same style. There is a constant mood that is set by the writer that his reader can feel.

In writing for this class and reading the material, I have thought more on the subject of personal writing style than ever before; I thought more about my own style in one week than I ever had. I have learned that style is something that should be encouraged, as long as it does not overlap into the territory of what is supposed to come from the essay. Certain points must be made and guidelines must be followed--it is how those guidelines are approached that defines a writer's style.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Final Peer Review

The final edition of peer review echoed the sentiments of most of the students at the end of the semester-- enough already! Not that I dont find this process to be a helpful one, but I think that most of us are nearing the end of our fuel reserves. Our group had 4 people, including me, and only one of us (not me) posted a finished, 1500 word essay the day peer review was to begin. Everyone posted something--an outline or good start to the essay--but finishing it was another story. I know its pretty much a cliche by now, but we are all really busy this time of year, and sometimes sacrifices are made.

Apart from the partial essay postings, the peer review went alright. My group posted some really good work, that I enjoyed reading and helping with. My 3/4 of the way finished essay received some good reviews that will help me a lot.

As with my last blog posting concerning peer review, I still like GoogleDocs the best. I still think that the features are the most helpful and user-friendly. The most useful part about peer review is the opinions of other students going through the same process that you are. Sounds kind of vague, but comparing 3 other people's comments about something that I wrote really helps make revision decisions. Comments from a professor are one thing, granted he/she is usually more knowledgable than students, but multiple opinions are more helpful.

The least useful thing about peer review is the half-ass comment. "Good job" is nice to hear, but it would be more helpful if the person described what was good about it, and maybe how to make it better.

One thing that I learned during this process was to not be afriad of hurting someone's feeling when reviewing their work. Realistically, they want your opinion, whether or not it means more work for them. At the same time, I also learned that there is a good way to go about criticism; by being constructive and offering advice on how to clean something up. There is also a bad way; by trying to sound like an angry English teacher--no offense Professor Krause, I said angry English teacher. Scolding someone os not a good way to get them to listen to you and take your advice. A person is more likely to write you off and not take your advice.

Overall, I liked the process. Once I figured out that everyone has their own style of reviewing, and to make use of the helpful ones you do get, it made more sense. Like many things, by the time it is over, you finally get the hang of it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Looking Back/Forward

The collaborative video project has been a lot like writing in that making a movie involves many of the same processes. After our group decided on a topic, each member thought about what he or she wanted to say, and what was to be included in the film. The brainstormin part of the process reminded me of writing because we were simply generating ideas and reworking the ones that we liked. This was very much like the peer review aspect of writing an essay; everyone helped each other improve upon their ideas.

For the individual essay portion of the project, I think that I will use Ong and Baron as reference points for drawing similarities about the different processes. Both writing and film making involve a lot of creativity. This is something that Ong touches on-- that text is very malleable and can be shaped into almost anything. Film making applies a lot of the same concepts in forming the final product.

Baron speaks about the evolution of writing and of processes that could eventually be replaced by film/video. The statement that struck me as being possible pertains to writing becoming a way to record and validate business transactions. I plan on comparing that process to one that could be done with video.

Of course, the videos that we saw can relate. Many of our video projects were inspired by what was shown in those YouTube clips and will likely incorporate some of the same concepts.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

YouTube-- Good, Bad, Writing?

The process of making a simple video has been pretty fun and easy-going thus far. I think that the most difficult part has been the initial decision making process of choosing an idea and running with it. Once our group picked an idea that we could all agree on, the ideas began to flow and shots started coming together. The rest of the process should be fairly painless; iMovie seems like a program that will be easy enough to use.

The writing process has differed from the video-making process in that this project is the most collaborative thing that we've done. Peer review works toward making everyone's individual projects as spectacular as they can be, while the video making collaboration is supposed to achieve a great product that the whole group can put their name on. I have yet to start the essay portion of this assigment, but I imagine it will be more like writing about a team sport than the individually themed essays that we've been used to.

I think that the process of making a simple film, or any film, is very much like writing. The preparation and thought that go into creating an idea, script, and list of shots and how they'll be edited together use a lot of writing. For instance, our video will feature writing on paper and screen, as well as dialogue and movement. All of these pieces have to first be written before they can be put onto film. Everything in a particular shot is there for a reason-- just as every word written down or spoken has been planned. Creating a script is like creating a detailed outline of a paper. And just like a paper, a viedo has a beginning, middle, and end that has been written down, thought out, and decided upon.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Peer Review vol. 3

The third edition of the peer review saga has been the most successful, thus far. As I stated in my very first peer review blog, that session was mostly-- for me-- about reviewing grammatr, sentence structure, etc. and less about content. The second time around, I was a bit more content-oriented in my reviewing of my peers' work, but frustrated with WetPaint. Our third attempt has been the most fluid because using GoogleDocs is much easier than WetPaint, and everyone seems to be sure about their job description.

This peer review has been the most helpful for me, as a writer, because I get the opinions of three peers. The first review only lent me two other opinions, which were helpful, but the first run is always a little shaky. By this, I mean that people, myself included, were unsure about what to review, and how to review it. The three other people in my group have given greatly descriptive and suggestive advice, not just corrections of comma usage and so forth. For the Style Rule project, I only had one person review my work. While this person gave me some helpful stuff, one person's review is not enough.

Reading other people's blogs is always a fun experience and I should really do it more often. I agree with Jeff's positive review of the threads in WetPaint. I did not like much about reviewing with that site, but I did enjoy the threads. It was a lot easier to read someone's comment at the bottom of the page-- with their name and time of posting there next to it. This business of threads also eliminated much of the in-text commenting that would foul up an essay's format and make it that much more of a task to read when you are the second or third reviewer.

Throughout the process of peer review, I have learned that pretty much everyone in this class takes pride in their writing and wants it to be the best it can possibly be. My classmates-- through their feedback-- have shown an aptitude for nosing out good and bad, that has been helpful in this process.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

McCloud part 2

The blog that I chose to review was --belonging to Allison Bondie. She reviewed a comic called "The Silencer" by Mike Heronime and Tony Pacitti, in which some sort of murder or kidnapping plot is detoured into a story of two young boys finding a briefcase containing a gun-- possibly in a dream sequence?

Allison wrote about the transitions between frames, which were much different than conventional comics. Because the comic was online, the authors chose to include a couple frames on each page, seperated by the normal white space, and the following frames on different pages. In other words, the entire comic cannot be seen at once. Pages have to be "flipped" to unveil the complete story. This method made for a much more suspensful story. Not that people like to jump ahead and skip frames within the comic itself, but the process of clicking "Next Page" roughly 15 times, made for a more intriguing experience. To quote Allison, "more closure and direct participation from the reader," is included in this comic.

The storytelling technique primarily used throughout "The Silencer" is of the "subject-to-subject" persuasion. Because each page contains one to three frames, each frame is of another subject. Moment-to-moment would be entirely too long for a story of this kind. The authors also use scene-to-scene-- especially in the beginning of the story, which depicts a criminal plot unfolding.

McCloud part 2

Monday, October 27, 2008

online comic

The comic that I chose to feature is by Scott R. Kurtz and can be found at I found this particular comic strip on Scott McCloud's website. Scott McCloud is the author of the book, Understanding Comics The Invisible Art, and is considered somewhat of an authority on comics itself. In his book, McCloud delves into the unappreciated realms of comic book history, structure, meaning, etc. I used the word "unappreciated" because after reading the first several chapters of Understanding Comics, I found an appreciation for those things, which was previously nonexistent.

Getting back to Scott R. Kurtz and his comic strip-- I chose this particular one because I liked the way it was illustrated. It is black and white, which I have just decided that I prefer, and the characters are very cartoonish. When I say cartoonish, I mean that they resemble actual people, but their features are exaggerated-- much like the characters in Family Guy or The Simpsons.

The comic depicts three characters: two seemingly more mature and experienced adults in dark jackets who may or may not be vampire slayers, and one younger, nervous, and wet-behind-the-ears apprentice or tag-along with hair in his face. As the story opens, there is a sense of urgency as the young man is screaming to his friends that he has just killed a vampire. His gestures show that he is yelling at them from afar, and the moisture leaping off his face adds to his excitement. In addition to the exclamation point at the end of the text and the subject matter itself, the frame's mood is further established by the streaks surrounding this young man. As McCloud talks about in chapter four of his book, the streak are there to show motion and/or excitement. The character is moving quickly into the audience's line if vision, and whatever is actually behind him is not as important as establishing the mood of this frame.

Another aspect of comics that McClound touches on in chapter four is the issue of time and space. This particular comic is only four frames long, and suggests a relatively short period of time in which it takes place. The story's narrative is linear and does not appear to be broken up by passing time, whether it be a few minutes or a few hours. We know this because the space between each frame is the same size; not very big at all, and the setting seems to be the same throughout.

Understanding Comics also explains six different styles of transitions that comics use-- the Kurtz comic uses the transition style of "subject-subject." This is evident from its use of a single setting, the showcase of different characters in three of the four frames, and from what Kurtz asks the audience to do between each frame. The small amount of blank space between frames represents the passing of time, in which things happen. Because we know that little time is taken in the telling of this comic's story, we can fill in the blank spaces with minor movements, achieveing what McCloud calls "closure."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Interesting/Compelling web page

The web page that I chose as compellingly laid-out was that home page for This is one of my favorite sites to visit when I have free time at work. There are interesting, hilarious, sick, and sometimes all three types of crime related stories that feature police reports, mug shots, etc.

The site's home page features an olive, almost GI, green background that is plain and large enough to suggest a sort of secretiveness that the rest of the site supports. Balance is exemplified by the always centered along the top sixth or so of the page banner ad. Beneath it, after a space of GI green and centered in the middle of the page is a black file folder- one that would hold confidential documents. Further examples of balance are the two smaller, orange folders placed atop the large black centerpiece. One is a bit larger than the other and sits on the mid-to-upper half of the left side. The other, slightly smaller and unfolded in the opposite direction, is seated in the lower right-hand corner of the black folder. Though the two orange folders are different in size, they balance each other, whereas a single orange folder would draw much more attention to itself. Additionally, the orange folders are complimented by some orange, as well as red lettering. The orange and red text stands out against the black background, contrasting the different colors. The other headings and photos atop the black file folder and wither brightly colored or surrounded by a thin, white box; adding to the contrast. This works well because your eyes notice the sharp contrast, thus the links stand out.

The page and site itself are a metaphor. The site is an online directory, or library, of information about strange, compelling, and infamous crime stories. The home page extends a feeling of top secret information being made available to its users- like we are snooping around the CIA's filing cabinet.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Peer Review vol. 2

The second time around, peer review was about the same; not all that helpful. Using WetPaint was a cool change because I had the opportunity to review the entire class-- not just the two other people from my group. This was fun because I could at least skim through some other essays and get a feel for what everyone else was doing. It was interesting to see all of the different routes that people chose, without necessarily reviewing their work.

The actual reviewing process was easier with GoogleDocs because I was able to leave comments, instead of changing my font color and writing within someone's text, as with WetPaint. The most frustrating part about using WetPaint came after I finished my first review of a classmate's essay. As I clicked "save," WetPaint told me that someone else was editing the text and we had to merge our comments, which meant rewriting them.

As with the first peer review session, I wish that I would have recieved more input regarding my essay. The GoogleDoc session only lent me the help of two classmates, while the WetPaint session only gave me one. The person who reviewed my Style Rules essay was pretty helpful and gave some good examples, however, it would have been nice to see comments from more than one person.

WetPaint is a cool tool, but I think it was wrong for this particular project. I liked the idea of reviewing essays from people not in our class, but the amount of people included was so large that not everyone's essay recieved adequate attention.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

what is everyone else saying??

I've never been one to follow blogs until now. Reading everyone else's blogs was the most fun I've had doing homework for this class. It was interesting to see different perspectives and reactions to the assigned readings because some people openly voice their opinions in class, while others like myself, usually do not. The beauty of a blog is that it gives a person the chance to be creative with their feedback and take thier time when answering. The thought of someone finishing a chapter in Williams' book and blogging about their sheer hatred for what they just read is also amusing.
Most of my classmates, as did I, had mixed feelings for each of the books. One quote that I found to be true came from Allison Bondie's blog. She said, "I prefer S&W's short commands that are accessible and come ready for interpretation." One of the reasons that I enjoyed Strunk and White's book so much, besides the illustrations, was that each section was short, precise, and to the point. There was no room left for questions when those two men were finished with a rule. Even if there had been, a person probably would have been scolded for asking.
A contrary opinion about Strunk and White that I also found interesting came from Susan McCracken's blog, in which she said, "some rules were merely their own opinions." One thing that I found in reading the first several pages of that book was that Strunk and White were very opinionated, and sometimes it seemed as if opinions became lost among rules and you had to be careful in interpreting them. Thanks to Strunk and White, I now feel a presence watching over me as I write - just waiting for an infinitive to be split.
After reading Strunk and White I was ready for a gentler excursion, which is probably why Williams was a nice change of pace. As Britney Hamilton Reed said in her blog, "Williams' Style Toward Clarity and Grace is more of a suggestion." I found that opinion to be true. In fact, I think I used the word "suggestion" in my blog as well. Williams, although dry and at times seemingly without end, was a much more laid back read. Anne Keinath's blog stated that Williams' book was "a lot less demanding and judgmental."
I found that most of my classmates liked Strunk and White as a reference guide, but grew tired of the scolding. Similarly, the feelings on Williams' book were also mixed. His suggestive manner and helpfulness were appreciated, while many people wanted to throw it out the window after reading a few grueling chapters.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Comparing Strunk/White and Williams

Style: Toward Clarity and Grace by Joseph M. Williams is similar to Strunk and White's The Elements of Style in its purpose. Both texts strive toward making their readers into better writers. Examples of proper and improper usage lined the pages along with rules and suggestions about why certain writing is labeled good or bad. My blog about the Strunk and White book was mostly a positive review, but not unlike reading the text, my feelings about it varied near the end. I wrote that Strunk and White's book was enjoyable and a bit humorous, easing along the reading of usage rules. The more I read, however, the more I grew tired of the tedious rules and advice/orders. Williams' book puts forward extensive information and uses many examples to illustrate usage, but in a less aggressive manner. Williams more or less explains what seems to be the best option for conveying a particular piece of writing, and suggests what to do with it. Compared with Strunk and White, Williams' text was less obtrusive in its explanation. For this reason, I thought that Williams' advice was more useful. His method of asserting a point was unlike the scolding that I recieved from Strunk and White. Reading Williams was like reading suggestions rather than rules. I also liked that many of his examples of both good and bad writing were entire paragraphs, or at least a few sentences long. Stylistic suggestion is better exemplified in longer text because you get a better feel for the words and what they are trying to accomplish. I felt like Williams was sitting next to me in a library reading what I had written, making some notes, and offering them as help. Strunk and White felt like the drawing that someone made in class; an old man holding a ruler and standing in front of a blackboard (not dry/erase) and telling me what I did wrong. This method was somewhat effective though because Strunk and White's style was intense and therefore stuck in my head. It is sort of like when a dog soils the carpet and you rub his face in it to tell him that what he did was wrong. The particular version that I had was illustrated, which made it much easier to read. The illustrations were soothing, like the off-white colored paint in a dentist's office. Had I purchased the text without illustration, the reading may have gone much differently.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

LITR 161 - Native American Literature

Original: A course in the oral and written literatures of Native American cultures -— emphasizing memoirs, essays, fiction, poetry, drama and film of the 20th and 21st centuries -— examined within their cultural and historical contexts. This course will promote and understanding of traditional Native world views, as well as examine the impact of Native peoples’ contact with other cultures.

Revision: Native American Literature focuses on the oral and written literatures of different Native American cultures. The cultural and historical contexts of memoirs, essays, fiction, poetry, drama, and film of the 20th and 21st centuries will be examined. This course promotes an understanding of traditional Native world views and examines the impact of Native people's contact with other cultures.

I chose to revise this text because it simply did not flow well. The second and third times that I read it, I noticed that the hyphens were used as a sort of adhesive that attempted to hold sentences together. The description was a bit "turgid" and sloppy, especially the first sentence. I began my first sentence with the title of the class, in order to fulfill the First of the "Two Principles of Clear Writing." Williams' first principle being that, "the subjects of the sentences name the cast of characters." The list of different Native media worried me some, and I almost cut it from the text. The list, however, gave a feeling of specificity that I felt really helped to explain the class.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Peer Review 1

The initial peer review went well. When I began reading and reviewing the other group members' essays, I was apprehensive about what to comment. I had no problem commenting on something that was grammatically incorrect, but when a phrase just didn't flow well, I was unsure. After leaving my mark a few times, I began to feel like an unconfident English teacher. Leaving positive comments was a lot more enjoyable than leaving negative comments because the latter made me feel like a prick. Had I been an actual English teacher, I would have felt no remorse. Since I was often unsure whether or not my comments were correct, leaving comments gave me an uneasy feeling. I ended up leaving all the comments that I thought were necessary because I would have wanted them left for me. The comments I received were helpful, but few. The only thing that I would have liked to receive were more comments.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Strunk and White

I found Strunk and White's The Elements of Style to be very helpful and easy to follow. The first section was an interesting brush-up of elemantary usage skills. Reading this section brought me back to fifth grade or so, and the sort of examples that we would study in class. I thought that the way this text was written, with at least three or four different examples, was not just easy to follow, but enjoyable. Who would have thought that learning english language usage rules could have been so much fun? The different examples also seemed to be well chosen in that they explained each exception or question I had about a particular rule. In addition to just listing examples of correct usage, the text also depicted the incorrect usage of certain rules. While explaining the correct situation in which to use dashes, the text explains that they are appropriate, "when a more common mark of punctuation seems inadequate." The obvious following question would then be: when would something be considered inadequate? One of the two examples written was, "Violence-the kind you see on television-is not honestly violent-there lies its harm." The same text is then written next to the original, except with commas and periods puntuating it-having a much less poingant effect. One piece in the first section that I found to be unhelpful, or unnecessary was at the very end. The text states, "Sentences violating Rule 11 are often ludicrous." The two examples of "ludicrous" sentences that followed, did not really seem all that ludicrous to me. Perhaps they were a little awkward, but anyone reading them would surely be able to decipher their meaning. The first example read, "Being in a dilapidated condition, I was able to buy the house very cheap." Anyone over the age ten can figure out that this statement is referring to the fact that the house being bought is in less than spectacular condition and is therefore being sold at a cut rate. It was as if the text did not want me to finish the first section without anything bad to say about it. Fortunately, the illustration on the following page made up for it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

My Writing Technologies

My writing technologies consist of a pen, pencil, or other stylus-like utensil that fits in my hand, or the word processor on a computer. I most routinely use a pen or pencil to write on paper, or sometimes another similar instrument like a marker. If a document must appear "professionally" written for school or work, I type it on a computer and print it out, or e-mail it. Over the years this has changed because I remember using a typewriter as a child, as we did not yet have a computer in our home. My first experiences with computers were in elementary school where I was exposed to two different shades of green on a screen that featured the letters that I typed. As the years have passed, my use of typewriters was phased out and computers took their place. I still use pens and pencils, although the pencils are much skinnier than the first times I used them. There aren't really any writing technologies that I avoid using, unless you count a typewriter. I wouldn't know where to find one if I ever felt the need anyway.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

First Blog Post

Hello. This is my first blog post.