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Fear Of Words

This Article was written by Gabrielle and edited by Ana Darhma

https://nancyfriedman.typepad.com/away_with_words/2006/10/fear_of_words_a.html

Fear of Words (and Other Writer’s Block)

Why it’s useful.

   If you’ve ever freelanced as a copywriter, you’ll find out soon enough that your hard-earned work can become much more undervalued than you’d expect. A freelance copywriter can spend countless hours and drinking two whole pots of coffee while editing a story of 1,000 – 2,000 words, just to end up getting paid a measly compensation of .01 cents or .04 cents per word, which would barely hit the minimum wage standard in some states. Nowadays, even though the internet has made available a larger scope of work for professional writers, access to the work means increased expectations for fast turn-arounds and consistent delivery.

   Friedman recognizes this overlooked value of written content. She mentions the idea that since people run across writing on a daily occurrence (ex: on the internet), people may think writing is an easily accessible skill. While that is true, there is a big difference between writing essays for school and writing effective copy that resonates with a wide range of readers.

   Having worked with both native and non-native speakers, I’ve observed that translating thoughts onto paper is still a difficult task for many. From the examples and strategies Fieldman offered, I’ve gained more perspective into the minds of people who lean more towards visual thinking, and as a result, I’ve decided to try harder in accommodating others that have different thinking mechanisms than I do. Because writing is one of my own unique strengths and the people I’m helping have their own unique qualities, Friedman’s perspective should be taken into account.  

   Friedman went outside of her comfort zone in order to understand the experiences of visual thinkers when asked to write something. Others can try to do likewise. By trying out different things to do in their day, like taking a different route to work, or trying out different hobbies that don’t exactly line up with their strengths, they can ironically might gain a different outlook and new perspectives. When we put ourselves in others shoes, we tend to grow more empathy and understanding for non-professional writers.

   It’s one thing to recognize that people may not have the necessary writing skills, but we can still take steps to help others improve their writing. Friedman’s strategies will be really useful for both professional writers that may work with visual learners, or for teachers who assign writing assignments. Teachers can also think of more ways to incorporate different kinds of media into the classroom. If writers are able to recognize some of the signs of visual thinkers that Friedman points out, we can develop easy solutions that visual thinkers can use the next time they put their writing to work.

The article mentions the rise of graphic novels as one mixed-media technique that helps visual thinkers. I want to find out some other ways as I work with students and am interested in incorporating different learning styles into my lessons as I have students practice writing.

A quick search has turned up a couple different ways to accommodate these learners:

  1. Comic books strips: Visual thinkers can be given pictures with empty speech bubbles, where they can fill in their own story. Other modified options can include having students illustrate a certain scene or illustrating their own story.
  2. Word puzzles: Crosswords and word searches are ways to assist visual thinkers in seeing the written words, which may help them recall by memory later on.
  3. Graphic Organizers: To help make concepts and words clear and easy to recall, graphic organizers are one way to assist visual thinkers in mapping out their thoughts.

Reading, Writing and More!

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#shewriteshistory Marry Shelley

This article was written by Sarah Rapacz and edited by Gabrielle Goodleo

It’s no secret that aside from romance, horror is probably one of the most popular modern genres of literature today. But do you know who some of the most famous inventors of modern horror are? Here’s a secret: it’s a woman.

In today’s world, everyone has heard of Frankenstein, a horrifying amalgamation of human parts that terrorizes villages. In common culture, Frankenstein’s only role is to break down doors and make unintelligible noises as he shuffles around causing havoc. However, this portrayal does a disservice to the original conception of the character, who is actually well-read, intelligent, and gentle-hearted. The monster has been thrust into an uncaring world that sees beauty as skin deep. There are many more intricacies lost in adaptation, such as themes surrounding life, death, beauty, hubris, and morality. So although many are familiar with Frankenstein, few know of its roots as a novel, designed by one of the most prolific writers of the era: Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.

Shelley wrote Frankenstein when she was only 18 years old and she published it later on– in 1818 under the title: The Modern Prometheus. While modern adaptations accurately capture the horror aspects of the work, what they fail to portray is the detail and nuance that makes Frankenstein so unique. Originally, this book was the product of a bet between Shelley, her husband, and their friend Lord Byron; all writers who sought to create the best horror story. Shelley conceived the idea of a scientist and expanded the story out from there. Living in a man’s world, no one ever thought that Shelley’s book would become the cultural behemoth that it is today. Even in her time, when the work was published anonymously, everyone assumed that it was written by her husband, not herself.

Shelley took inspiration from the world around her in the creation of this novel, both from Gothic and Romantic influences; but she also drew on aspects of her own life. Shelley was surrounded by other writers, such as her parents, husband, and his circle of friends, and as a result, she was indoctrinated into the world of literature from a young age and carried this passion throughout her life. There were even times when writing was her only solace in an unforgiving world. Her writing is sometimes reflective of the hardships she faced, such as the deaths of her mother and daughter. These themes become prevalent in her works, which focus on topics of mortality and the inner turmoil of man. Many theorists speculate that Frankenstein’s monster was inspired by Shelley’s loss of her daughter, and that perhaps the monster was just a child lost in a violent world.

Although Frankenstein is Shelley’s most well-known work, she was not a one-hit-wonder. In addition to The Modern Prometheus, Shelley wrote Mathilda, The Last Man, Valperga, Lodore, Falkner, and Perkin Warbeck, to name a few novels. Many of these works featured autobiographical elements, similar to Frankenstein. Shelley incorporated people from her life into these works, creating richer characters and interactions in the process. Additionally, Shelley seemed to have a fascination with science fiction, conjuring up intricate scenarios for her works. Her stories featured everything from massive monsters to interpersonal conflicts, to disease ridden apocalypses. She is truly a pioneer of the science fiction genre, arguably the mother of modern science fiction.

So why does Mary Shelley’s writing work so well? It’s no secret that Frankenstein is the kind of book you either love or hate. There is no in between. Shelley spends half of the story writing complex and winded sentences that never seem to end. The characters, when they aren’t talking about the scenery, spend more time talking about their feelings than Dr. Phil. But it has become popular enough that it is an everlasting icon in science-fiction literature.

Despite being a science fiction novel, there is one thing Shelley does well in the book: she learns to take lessons from the writing around her and use it to express her own story. For instance, Shelley would’ve been largely familiar with the romance literature of the victorian area, especially with her husband, Percy, being a leading founder of the romantic movement at the time. Victorian romance saw nature as a spiritual experience that was open to the viewer any time they wanted to seek spiritual growth. Shelley used the same theory in her own writing. For instance, take a look at this passage from the book:


The weight upon my spirit was sensibly lightened as I plunged yet deeper in the ravine of Arve. The immense mountains and precipices that overhung me on every side, the sound of the river raging among the rocks, and the dashing of the waterfalls around spoke of a power mighty as Omnipotence — and I ceased to fear or to bend before any being less almighty than that which had created and ruled the elements, here displayed in their most terrific guise. (9.13)

In this small paragraph, it’s clear that the mountains are used to express a spiritual experience that would claim romantic literature, but it’s in a science fiction novel. Shelley created vivid worlds of monsters, but she used the theory of ‘write what you know’ when it came to her style of writing and we can do the same.

So how do we do it? Look at the following prompts below and try your hand at studying the art of Mary Shelley. Even consider picking up a copy of Frankenstein and reading through it before taking a stab at the following prompts inspired by the mother of horror.

  1. Prompt Line Starters.

Take one of the lines from Frankenstein below:

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein

“Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.”

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

“Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it.”

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

2.  Nightmares play a big part in the story. Of course, this is part of the reason it is considered horror. Spend some time writing about a character’s recurring nightmare. What is it and how does it affect their daily life?

3. Take some time to describe the nature around you or your character. Is it a spiritual experience or does it drain their energy? How does it affect the scene of the story?

4. If you are familiar with the writing of Frankenstein, rewrite the ending the way you would’ve wanted to end it. Would it be happier?

5. Create several characters who would’ve lived in Frankenstein’s world. What would their journals and letters look like and how would they relate to the book?

I hope you enjoyed this #shewriteshistory based off the famous Mary Shelley, look for more #shewriteshistory in the future!

Did you love Frankenstein or any of Shelley’s other works? Let us know below and remember, Say it with words!

MEM

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Book Review

The Chronicles of Hawthorn: A Magical Fantasy Adventure

From the desk of Reedsy Discovery. Check out my profile here.

SYNOPSIS

An ancient prophecy. A deadly enemy. A young girl’s fight to save her people and her own soul.

4 books. 800+ pages of magical fantasy that spell fast-paced adventure.

Follow Flynn Hawthorn on her magical journey as she struggles to find the courage to fulfill her destiny, fights for the future of her people, and finds an unlikely love that defies all odds.

Growing up as the daughter of the High Priestess was never easy, but now that Flynn has reached the age of initiation she can no longer hide in the shadows. Stepping into her new role should’ve been easy, instead she and her best friend find themselves knee deep in troubles beyond their abilities.

From petulant faeries to evil witches, Flynn will have to push beyond her limits to reunite the Book of Shadow and Light. If she fails everything she loves will fall into darkness.

The Chronicles of Hawthorn Box Set contains four books from the best-selling young adult fantasy series. If you like historical fantasy, magical adventure, deadly enemies, and unbreakable friendships that readers have called, “truly a wonderful read for all ages,” then you’ll love Rue’s spell-casting spectacular.

My Thoughts:

The Chronicles of Hawthorn felt like a generic convulsion of the greatest fantasy novels trying, and failing, to be one great fantasy novel. From the lack of setting, to overly generic plot points and randomly thrown together names, there were many issues found within the book. For the purpose of this review, let’s start with Setting first.

Perhaps after reading some of the best female writers of our time like P.C. Cast, Charlaine Harris and Rachel Mead, I expected a little too much from this book. There were so many generic words that sounded as if they were strung together from a random website generator that I wasn’t sure which one was the title of the location of the book. All I am sure of is that it was supposed to be an island, and that there are other islands near by and that’s questionable.

The setting felt as if the author had too many things trying to happen to focus on one idea and pinpoint them all down. Because of this what little names involved the setting either sounded computer generated or used the same letters, making them hard to keep up with. Traditionally, I would have preferred the author keep the setting simple, as opposed to the complex world they tried to build.

Apart from the name, we didn’t get much information about setting. I feel like I have no defined idea what the houses looked liked or even really what the forest looked like and this created distance between myself and the book. I would’ve loved to see more detail. I wish the world building was just a tad bit stronger.

Lastly, Flynn herself was completely annoying. She spent most of the book complaining about how her mother didn’t love her. By chapter two, I was bored and tired. For one, can we get another subject please? What about a book where the family stands with the MC against the town or something? Relational conflict doesn’t always have to be about family.

Of course, by the end of the book, Flynn masters the elements she needs to not only save the day, but gain approval. This gave me serious concerns about the message that the book was sending to young adults. I wouldn’t want my child reading a book that tells her to conform to society for approval, or that who she is isn’t less than good.

Final Verdict:

Overall, there were a lot of different concerns with this book and because of that, I have to give a 1 out of 5 stars. There’s just not enough clarity or voice overall to make this book stand out or make the message strong and personal

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Write When You Are Happy

Write When You Are Happy

PSA: I know there is a strong community among writers who suffer true mental health disorders. I want to preface this article by stating THIS ARTICLE IS NOT INTENDED FOR YOU! YOU ARE STRONG AND WONDERFUL. IF EVER YOU NEED SOMEONE TO TALK TO OR JUST SEND A RANT, MY INBOX IS ALWAYS OPEN.

How many times have you heard it? The phrase that has probably become the most annoying phrases in our profession: “the struggling artist.” What about the quote, “one must suffer for their art”? Over the next few blog posts we’re going to bust myths about the writing lifestyle and how to turn a negative disposition into a working, positive atmosphere for new and experienced writers alike.

I started writing at a young age. I was still in elementary school when I wrote my first few pages because of both my love for reading and my need to finish a story I knew I probably wouldn’t get the chance to buy. I was raised by a single mother and new books were a luxury. I never had any hard feelings towards this, it was just a simple fact of life. It made me start writing and in those first few years, I was really happy. Life was good for the young kid of my youth.

And then, at eleven years old, tragedy struck in multiple forms over a short period of time and I was no longer that sappy, innocent kid. In fact, by the age of twelve years old, if I had been taken to a professional, I most likely would’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression, something I would continue to struggle with up until my college years. One of the things I remember most during this time is that the reasons for the pain and anguish I felt always seemed to change, but the reasons for writing and reading never did. They became crutches, salvation for a kid who otherwise dismissed school and life in general. Everyday life became a necessary chore that I didn’t understand, nor did I want to at the time.

I remember thinking most during that time, “This is what it should feel like to be a writer.” After all, this was the same story of Hemingway and Poe, right? It wouldn’t occur to me until I took a class at university that this was an incredibly wrong and poor way of thinking about writing both mentally and professionally as well. It was more of a hindrance not only to my mental health, but to my health as a writer as well.

Were the issues I faced real? Most definitely. Did they make me a better writer? Most likely not. Could I be happy and be a writer? Absolutely, though I wouldn’t discover this until I hit university. Next week, we’ll discuss how I broke myself out of some of my darkest moments of my life and how I learned to be a happy writer.

But in the meantime, what about you dear reader, do you think you can be both happy and a writer? Do you think the term ‘struggling artist’ is overused by mass media culture? I’d love to hear your feedback.

And remember:
Say it with words.

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Learning to Write Villains

In late 2017 the Garth Brooks Anthology Part 1 was released. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a massive Garth Brooks fan. If there is anything with Garth’s name on it around me, it’s mine. I learned to love the poetic form of storytelling through songs like “Lonesome Dove” and fell in love with the passionate beauty of “The Red Strokes.” I also learned key turn phrasing in songs like “What She’s Doing Now.” “I can hear her call each time a cold wind blows” has always been one of the most simple, yet most powerful song lyrics to me. The rise and fall of his voice matches the lyrics perfectly.

Essentially, a lot of what I learned from writing and storytelling form came from these songs. They fueled my imagination for those first ten or so years of writing and this anthology was no different. To be able to see the way “If Tomorrow Never Comes” is written on paper, and listen to how it was recorded was just mind boggling. To hear the stories and inspiration behind each lyric and song formation was breathtaking, and just like his music, I learned a lot of lessons from these stories about writing.

The most shocking revelation to me was “Burning Bridges,” another one of my favorite storytelling masterpieces. In the anthology, the writers discuss how and why they wrote the song. Garth originally wrote the song with his landlady, who also introduced him to his producer, Bob Doyle. The song starts out “Yesterday she thanked me for oiling that front door, this morning when she wakes up, she won’t be thankful anymore.”

Unlike most popular songs written for the heartbroken, “Burning Bridges” is declared THE song for leavers, those who do the heartbreaking or leave because they don’t know any other way. Garth says in the book, “I’d like to think the music of “Burning Bridges” comforted those people that were not stick-arounders, the people that burned bridges even though they didn’t mean to.”

In break ups, the person who leaves is often vilified, is often berated and belittled, but as Garth puts it “The people being left are better off than the person that can’t stay. Because at some point, the people being left are going to find that person they’re supposed to be with but the person that’s leaving all the time never will. And that, to me, makes the villain the victim.” In a  later paragraph, Garth goes on to tell the story of explaining the first line of the song to their drummer, a lyric that even I didn’t get until I read this book. “Mike saw it like oiling the door was a chore. For a while there he didn’t get it that until that front door didn’t squeak, he couldn’t leave without waking her up…”

I never thought about that song like this until reading the book. I always imagined the story unfolding with two lonely, single neighbors hooking up for one night. I never thought about the characters being an actual couple until reading this story and then the song took on a whole new meaning and in that new meaning I found a new character in story telling and new method of writing villains that will be explored in the next couple of blog posts. In the meantime, dear readers, what non-book writer has inspired your writing?

I don’t know about other writers, but one of my biggest struggles when writing is often crafting the narrative of the villain in a way that makes sense to the reader, but isn’t overtly evil. I know this is one of my issues because of the fact that it often comes up in writing editorials, beta reader comments and elsewhere. I’m not ashamed to admit this fact, nor am I ashamed to admit that I still struggle with this after almost fifteen years of writing. You’d think it’d get easier, but the villains are still my toughest subject.

A huge part of the problem for me is finding that origin dynamic, the single moment where the character becomes the villain and why and how this affects the story. I think a huge part of the problem is that I never truly related to the villain in any story and most villains in modern fiction seem to be incredibly vague to me. Especially writing high fantasy characters and bad guys/girls, it always seemed that the villain needed something otherworldly to make them the villain and that was something I usually missed.

However, in the lyrics from a song, I found a new interest in learning to work with writing villains. In less than 20 words, with the first line of the song the act of an everyday chore suddenly becomes the moment when an otherwise normal person becomes the villain of the worst kind.  It’s such a small act that takes less than five minutes out of a person’s day, but there it is. So simple. So easy.

From a paragraph in an anthology on country music I learned that being a villain, even in high fantasy, doesn’t have to be hard. Or extreme. Not every villain has to be a serial killer or war strung god. Sometimes the easiest answer is the best. For me, in a world where villains must have an excuse for being villains and readers look for the most drama around every corner, this took on a whole new life for me and I immediately began exploring the idea of using this in everyday fiction writing. Of course, it’ll be some time after this blog post  before I will be able to see if it is something the readers pick up on or enjoy, or if it even makes my writing of villains better, but it is a theory and test I’m willing to work with and try whenever possible.

And remember:
Say it with words.