Tuesday, April 30, 2013

An Example of Revision

Revision that I did just for you!
One of the main lessons that I've been learning as a writer is to be concise. Looking back at some posts on SOI, I've noticed that there are some that could be cut down. I chose this post on dystopian fiction to revise, as an example of how to get the word count down. 

Starting word count: 842 

First we had wizards, then we had vampires, and now the growing fiction tread in fiction for the younger, populace of readers is the dystopian genre. Until this past year I had no idea how to pronounce “dystopian”, nevermind let alone know understand the genre is about. Since then, I’ve been educated. Dystopian fiction is very generally classified as a story that takes place in a hypothetical society, where the living conditions are extremely poor. Often these conditions are due to a corrupted government and are set in a futuristic time, usually post-apocalypse. Like me, you may have thought that this genre has just popped up over the past few years, but in truth it’s been around since the late 1800s. with Some older dystopias that are still popular today are George Orwell’s 1984 (1949) and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies (1954).

This paragraph mostly needed filler words, that don't have meaning, taken out (eg. just, very, like etc.) and phrases condensed. Always try to say what you want to say in the least amount of words possible.

Needless to say, this genre is still going strong, especially in teen books. for younger readers Ever since the 2008 release of Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games, the first in the dystopian trilogy, and the release of the movie earlier this year in early 2012, the dystopian genre has returned to mainstream fiction.this genre has taken off. A few prime examples of this are books being published modern dystopian are like Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (2011) and Blood Red Road by Moira Young (2011). The growing number of books in the dystopian genre means the growing The growing number of young people reading the “doom and gloom” fiction, and this is raising some questions among parents. The most common of these questions among parents is whether or not it’s The main question is this: is it healthy for their children to be reading these kinds of dystopian books that often include violence are violent and are centered on
dysfunctional societies

This paragraph took a little bit more work than the first. I changed a reference that dated the piece (eg. "earlier this year") and firmed up my opinion by getting rid of vague terms (eg. "often times" "generally" "commonly" etc.) . I also repeated too much information in the original draft (...raising questions among parents...common of these questions among parents...), so I changed that. Don't treat the reader like an idiot. 

Like most issues, there isn't a straight answer to this question. Dystopian stories have great the potential to produce many   positive   enriching reader experiences effects ,that I can relate to. and those effects are what I’ve personally experienced has been my experience with these types of books . They are cautionary tales, with the power to jolt someone out of their apathy and force them to think about the choices we are making today and how they will determine the future. Reading about a destitute, failing, futuristic society that is clearly an awful place to live and seeing the parallels to our own society culture can have has a warning sobering effect. Our future could be like it is the plot of these books. That realization might even has the power to induce some action from the reader break teens out of apathy. It might just be turning the light off when you one leaves a room, or maybe taking an interest in voting for the coming years, but dystopian novels Although it’s not earth shattering act, reading dystopian books gets the reader one thinking about their future which is an extremely positive effect in my books . This genre starts a cycle of forwarding thinking. Aside from the more intellectual results, current dystopian fiction often features strong heroines which are always nice to see in comparison to the classic damsel in distress, and are books that are just plain exciting to read.

Two main revisions happened in this paragraph, that have been happening all along. 
1. Condensing ideas and sentences into one sentence. 
2. Getting rid of vagueness/weak language (eg. "might even", "can have", "some action" etc.) and repetitive words.

All that being said, there are still those nagging thoughts of the potentially desensitizing violence and the inaccurate portrayals of authority that are often can found in dystopian fiction. Those are the reasons that give parents pause in allowing their children to read regards to this genre and those are two very good reasons  are valid concerns. As much as I see value in dystopian books, This genre is only effective when the reader has grounding is grounded in the fact that the story is fiction and only a hypothetical future; the problem arises when this is forgotten. When we have children reading books like this we get into problems with them taking *is fictional representation of our possible future as the truth of how it currently is The concern here is that young, impressionable, children will read books like The Hunger Games, where the antagonist is a corrupted government, and grow up to be cynical anarchists. This is where parents need to step up and make one of two decisions: either ensure that their child understands the hypothetical aspect of the novel, or hold off on the book until the child is mature enough to reap the benefits of dystopian without confusion. Truly though, However, the main complaint is the not the eschewed worldviews, but the violence. especially between young people in the books.  However I do not find it desensitizing at all, but the opposite. Reading about it makes me more aware of how awful the violence is. The presence of violence is not what will cause problems; the glorification of violence is the real issue. but how the violence is portrayed. I’ve yet to read a dystopian novel (and I’ve read many) that glorifies makes hostile brutalities glamorous violence , or makes me want to be a part of it. Dystopian novels tend to make the reader acutely aware of the pitfalls of violence, the opposite of becoming numb to it. As a teenager, I know that dystopian books are fiction, and I'm no stranger to know that violence exists ?I? Concerns of cynicism and violence can be put to rest when the reader must have has the tools to take away the subtle lessons that make the dystopian, genre what it is. but as a young child it can be ?too much to deal with? overwhelming when they are still relativity unexposed to the world.

This paragraph needed the most work. In the original, the ideas where a bit muddled, so I cleaned up a lot of the sentences. I had to really think about what I wanted to say. This could have been avoided if I had a clear plan of what to say before writing the first draft. I also added the general idea (parents decide if kid ready) from the last paragraph into the paragraph above by adding the sentence "...parents need to step up and make one of two decisions...". Although this meant that a few details (eg. exciting plots) where left out, it made the piece tighter. A good thing to remember is that you don't always have to write all your thoughts on your subject in the piece, as off-topic notes can muddy up the main idea. 


Does this mean that parents should condemn this genre all together? Of course not, but it is important that they work with their children to decide when they are mature enough to handle dystopian. When they are ready for dystopian, parents should help them realise the lessons to be taken away from the book and the misconceptions that may be found. If parents give their children a good foundation in this area they won’t have to fear for their child’s worldview and can sit back and let their children learn to love the written word (and maybe learn a few things at the same time!) through the exciting books that are part of the dystopian genre.

Here is the stroke-free edited version of the piece:


First we had wizards, then we had vampires, and now the growing fiction tread for younger, readers is the dystopian genre. Until this past year I had no idea how to pronounce “dystopian”, nevermind  understand the genre. Since then, I’ve been educated. Dystopian fiction is generally classified as a story that takes place in a hypothetical society, where the living conditions are extremely poor. Often these conditions are due to a corrupted government and are set in a futuristic time, usually post-apocalypse. Like me, you may have thought that this genre has popped up over the past few years, but in truth it’s been around since the late 1800s. Some older dystopias still popular today are George Orwell’s 1984 (1949) and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies (1954).

Needless to say, this genre is still going strong, especially in teen books. Ever since the 2008 release of Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games, the first in the dystopian trilogy, and the release of the movie in early 2012, the dystopian genre has returned to mainstream fiction. A few examples of  modern dystopian are  Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (2011) and Blood Red Road by Moira Young (2011). The growing number of young people reading the “doom and gloom” fiction, is raising some questions among parents. The main question is this: is it healthy for children to be reading dystopian books that are violent and centered on
dysfunctional societies

Like most issues, there isn't a straight answer to this question. Dystopian stories have the potential to produce enriching reader experiences ,that I can relate to.  Reading about a destitute, failing, futuristic society and seeing the parallels to our own culture has a sobering effect. Our future could be the plot of these books. That realization has the power to break teens out of apathy. It might just be turning the light off when one leaves a room, or maybe taking an interest in voting for the coming years, but dystopian novels gets one thinking about their future. This genre starts a cycle of forwarding thinking.

All that being said, there are still those nagging thoughts of the desensitizing violence and the inaccurate portrayals of authority that can found in dystopian fiction. Those are valid concerns. This genre is only effective when the reader is grounded in the fact that the story is fiction and only a hypothetical future; the problem arises when this is forgotten. The concern here is that young, impressionable, children will read books like The Hunger Games, where the antagonist is a corrupted government, and grow up to be cynical anarchists. This is where parents need to step up and make one of two decisions: either ensure that their child understands the hypothetical aspect of the novel, or hold off on the book until the child is mature enough to reap the benefits of dystopian without confusion. However, the main complaint is the not the eschewed worldviews, but the violence. The presence of violence is not what will cause problems; the glorification of violence is the real issue. I’ve yet to read a dystopian novel (and I’ve read many) that makes hostile brutalities glamorous, or makes me want to be a part of it. Dystopian novels tend to make the reader acutely aware of the pitfalls of violence, the opposite of becoming numb to it. As a teenager, I know that dystopian books are fiction, and I'm no stranger to violence. Concerns of cynicism and violence can be put to rest when the reader has the tools to take away the subtle lessons that make the dystopian, genre what it is.

Final word count: 609


What I'm reading: Partials by Dan Wells
What I'm listening to: Colbie Caillet
What I'm watching: Revolution 

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Splash of Ink Has a New Layout!

I'm sure you've noticed that SOI has gone from this:

To this:

I decided that I needed some change, and seeing how spring is coming (or is SUPPOSED to be coming/is here) I decided on a fresher look. The colours are lighter and not quite as heavy as before. I also went for a bit of a simpler look. I'll still probably be tweaking it, but this is the new look. Let me know if you're having trouble reading anything and your general thoughts in the comments. 

I also learned that my previous post on how to center a blogger title is out of date (GASP!). Here is the new and improved way to center your blog's header.

Click on "Template" in the sidebar, and then click the customize button which is under the picture of your blog. See image (and my sketched numbers, tehe)
Now go click on the "Advanced" tab in the sidebar. 

Scroll to the bottom of the list in the second column, and then click "Add CSS". This is the section where you can override the original blogger settings, beyond what the template designer offers. 


In the white box copy and paste this text:
#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important;} #header-inner {text-align:center !important;}

The preview should pop up in the screen below, and then you're done! This is a simple, but effective design change. Hope that helps you out in your next blog re-design. Don't forget to let me know if you're having any problems viewing SOI and what you think! Another question: Have you done a blog redesign lately? What motivated you to do it?

What I'm reading: Wedding Photography by Mark Cleghorn and Why We Write by Meredith Maran
What I'm listening to: Death Cab for Cutie
What I'm watching: Doctor Who

P.S. I'm thinking of doing a bookshelf tour. Anyone done one or seen a good one? Think I should try it?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How to Use the Hyphen

You may have seen this before, but it's a great
collection of pack bookshelves
This semester I've been taking a writing course, and some of the best lessons that I've learned are the ones about grammar and sentence mechanics. Today I wanted to talk about hyphen use, because it's always puzzled me so here are the rules that I've learned:

1. Use a hyphen when two words are joined to be a single adjective before a noun.
Examples:
I like jelly-filled donuts.
Micheal has sky-blue eyes.
Sunny Smith likes packed-full bookshelves.

BUT if the adjectives are after the noun, you don't hyphenate them.
Examples:
The donuts were jelly filled.
Micheal's eyes are sky blue.
Sunny Smith likes bookshelves that are packed full.

2. Use a hyphen to compound numbers. 
Examples: 
Fifty-three
Forty-nine
Twenty-two

3. Use the hyphen to get rid of confusing or awkward letter combinations:
Examples:
Bell-like
Re-sign the letter (vs. resign from a job)
Semi-injured

4. Use the hyphen to separate the prefixes ex-, self-, and all- from the root word. Use a hyphen to separate the root word from the suffix "elect". Use the hyphen between a prefix and a capitalized word, as well as between and numbers/letters.
Examples:
Ex-lover
Self-confident
Mid-October
Mayor-elect
Mid-1700s
All-inclusive
T-shirt
Pre-World War II

5. Use the hyphen for end of line breaks. Only separate the word at syllable breaks. 
Examples:
Rich-
est
Con-
venient

BUT if the word already has a hyphen in it, do the line break only at the hyphen.
Examples:
Ex-
husband
All-
inclusive

AND if the word ends in -ing, split the word before the -ing, unless there is double consonant (because you added -ing), then hyphenate between the double consonant. 
Examples:
Jump-
ing
Call-
ing
Plan-
ning

AND never put the first or last letter of a word at the beginning of a line. Don't put two-letter suffixes at the beginning of a new line either. 
Bad examples:     Good Examples:
E-                        Eval-
valuate                 uate
Quick-                Quickly (move whole word to new line)
ly

There you go, how to use a hyphen. Hopefully this has helped you some, and if you have any questions or disagreements, don't hesitate to comment with them. Another question for the comments: How often do you use a hyphen when writing?

What I'm reading: Why We Write by Meredith Maran
What I'm listening to: "Moving Mountains" by Thrice
What I'm watching: Doctor Who (2005)

P.S. To give credit where credit is due, I used a paper handed out in class to write this post. It says the contributors are Sean Conrey and Karl Stolley.

Friday, April 12, 2013

On Beating a Spell of Writer's Block

Recently, as I'm sure you've guessed, I've had a bit of writer's block. Every writer, especially us teens, go through this phenomenon. For me, I find it hits when life starts to get busy and other activities grab my interest. However, once again I have battled through the block, and I'm going to share my experience of how I got through it, in hopes that it will help you too.

Write in your writer's journal
I have a well weathered journal that I wasn't using very often, until I started a new writing course for school, where a journal was mandatory. There are two aspects of the journal that helped me beat the block.

Writing Kickoffs:
These are little drills and writing prompts. I used to think that they were pointless, because I just wanted to get to important writing I was working on (ie. my stories). However, these are super helpful to get your creativity flowing. Not only is it useful for your creativity, but it helps your writing flow as well. It gets the words on the page, with very little pressure to get it "right".
 Here are some exercises that I've done recently:
  • Your house is burning down and you have fifteen seconds to grab something. What is it and why?
  • Look around the room and pick an object. Create a character. Use the object that you've chosen to get your character out of jail.
  • Pick a time of day and an emotion. Write a scenario.   
Pick a prompt and write for ten minutes, then stop and move on to your work in progress.

Writing my Work in Progress:
Writing my story in my journal instead of in my normal word processor file, is a tactic that has freed me from the block many times. I find when I write my WIP in a place that is foreign and detached, I have an immense freedom. I know that if the writing is really bad, it doesn't have to be typed into the file that holds the rest of my work. This way of writing, also allows my inner editor to get some relief by providing a limited section to make minor adjustments to, as I transcribe it into my word document.

Bogey (my Aunt and Uncle's third child) and his toy
Change of Scenery:
I went dog sitting. I stayed in my Aunt and Uncle's house. I find when I change the place where I usually write, it's almost like a fresh start that encourages me to get down to business. Even if it's just moving into a different room in the house (or to the backyard), I find it helpful.

This is how I've broken out of my Writer's Block this time around. Maybe these little tips will help you, as well. You can also check out my other thoughts on Writer's Block here from three years ago (!!!!!) What do you do to get rid of Writer's Block?

What I'm reading: The Death Cure by James Dashner
What I'm watching: Anderson Live
What I'm listening to: Les Mis Soundtrack (eeeee!!!)

P.S. If lacking inspiration, check out SOI's inspiration board.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...