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Tuesday, September 11

September 11, 2012

CNF Workshop: Nice job today on essays by Miss Cook and Miss Dushack. Keep this up — having so many people contribute, and contribute in a meaningful way, is great!

I kept your annotations for Miss Turner’s essay. We will begin Thursday with that one; please comment on and annotate Miss Jones’s essay as well for Thursday.

Screenwriting Workshop: Today we workshopped Ashley and Rosemary. Kat and Autumn’s screenplays were handed out and will be workshopped on Thursday. Please make sure that your comments are posted to the website before class and that you have your annotations ready to go.

Everyone should take a moment to look at the online comments to date, for both your own and other’s screenplays. This goes for everyone but particularly for first-years: remember that my expectations for the quality of your online comments are rising. I’ll be looking for slightly longer and more thoughtful comments as we move forward. First years, have a look toward the upperclassmen for a target to shoot for. Upperclassmen, keep up the good work and don’t slack off. Good job so far.

The Siren: Today we went over the the second-most important pages in your packet: the ones in Chapter 3 on different types of leads. You have to not only know their names and be able to identify them — you have to be able to use them, and use them correctly.

Thursday is a work day — we’ve got to get copy ready for the first issue. And we need to do staff bios. If you have work you need to get done on your story, be ready to do it Thursday. I’ll be able to help the new folks, especially.

In The Style Of: Today some of you shared your stories based on Raymond Carver — they were really good! There were quite a few people who did not hand in stories: please know that I am keeping track of this and that you should hand them in as soon as possible – tomorrow would be ideal. The later you wait, the fewer points you get, and the worse off your grade will be. If you were absent, be sure to give me a hard copy of your story as soon as you get back to school – do not wait till Thursday!

Our next author is the late David Rakoff, who has done a lot of work for This American Life and is primarily a creative nonfiction writer/essayist. Get the handout from the box on my desk if you were absent. In class, we listened to one of Rakoff’s stories from TAL, which is linked here:
There are lots and lots of Rakoff stories available for streaming (free) on the TAL website, and if you’re interested, you should definitely look some of them up. The Fred and Barney piece, though not written by Rakoff, is hilarious (he voices one of the characters). Hearing his voice will likely help you while reading the essays from the book.

Notes on David Rakoff are due on Thursday.

Reading for Writers: Today you completed Reading for Writers – On Writing Response 3 and we discussed it in class.

Survey: Poetry: Today we reviewed a bunch of image-related stuff:

1. The last quiz. They were good overall, but remember that the term “image” is, while primarily visual, also sensory in nature.
2. The chart on page 67 in your textbook. Primarily we went over the differences between simile, metaphor and symbol. You’ll need to know these.
3. What constitutes a cliched image. We came up with some good ones, based on the abstractions love, anger, happiness, fear and one other I don’t rightly remember. Maybe we’ll burn a few of these during our cliche exorcism. Remember: if it comes too easily — for example, “I was so mad, steam was coming out of my ears” — you should consider whether you can do better. (And you probably can.)
4. The terms “hyperbole” and “synecdoche.” The first is a deliberate exaggeration that couldn’t possibly be true (“I waited forever for you after school”); the second substitutes a part for the whole (“daily bread,” where “bread” really means “food in general,” or “he was beaten up by a gang of skinheads,” even if everyone in the gang wasn’t, technically, a skinhead).
5. The terms “tenor” and “vehicle.” Simply put, tenor is the idea (or abstraction, if you like); and the vehicle is the visual (image, if you like) that you use to illustrate the idea.
6. Finally, we began talking about the need for strong nouns and limiting the use of adjectives. Long strings of adjectives are annoying and waste valuable space, no matter what your second-grade teacher said. (And I’m sure she was a wonderful person.)

If you use the right noun, you can limit or even eliminate descriptors. This is usually a good thing.You need to get stingy with words, especially in a poem.

We (OK, I) compared the use of nouns to bacon and potatoes. Bland, mushy nouns are like potatoes — they need plenty of salt. (That is, adjectives.) Strong nouns are like bacon — they need no salt, and are fine on their own. Try to make your nouns like bacon. Even if you don’t eat bacon. Or meat. Or potatoes. Or salt. Or whatever.

Update: courtesy of Miss Nickel:


Dude is a poet…and don’t know it. J/K

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