Monday, September 28, 2009

How to Write Papers, Poetry and Essays - Schedule Change

Okay, we are going to have a slight change in posting topics. I apologize for the change up...still trying to get everything organized :) For anyone who still wants to know how to write a paper in six weeks or less (as we began discussing last week), check out the sidebar for the cheat sheet. Basically, all the steps for writing a paper are broken into six steps, one for each week. Simple and easy :D

For the next month or so, starting next week, Monday's will be reserved for paper and essay discussions. To start off, we'll focus on things like formatting, correct citations, types of things you'd examine in papers and essays like literary devices, symbolism, imagery, and how those things can help in analyzing literature - that type of stuff. Thursdays will be our poetry days. I like the games, I'll try and come up with more :) Poetry fun for all :D

I am also interested in what everyone out there would like to know. Are there questions you have on a certain assignment? Something you've never understood about writing papers, poetry, essays or other prose? Something else you'd like to ask me? :D Just leave your question in the comments section or hit the Ask Me button on the sidebar and I'll do my best to answer your question. If it is okay to post your question and my response, please let me know as I'd like to share as much info with everyone as I can.

In a few weeks, I'll also begin to take you through the anatomy of papers and essays by posting a few of my own assignments from my school days and dissecting them for you. Lots of fun :)

In the meantime, please bear with me as I get all the bugs ironed out of my schedule. :) Thanks for stopping by!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

How to Write Poetry - Game Time

Every Friday in our poetry corner, we'll either go over a particular form of poetry or play a poetry game. For today, as it is our first day, we'll play a game. One of my favorite poetry games (that I can no longer find), was when I was given a box full of word tiles but could only use up to 20 of them to make a poem.

However, I haven't quite figured out how I can do this yet. So today will be Haiku day :)

Basic haiku rules - 3 lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables

I'll post a picture to stir your inspiration and you can leave your haiku either in the comments or you can email me (contact button is on the sidebar). Enjoy! Mine is posted below the picture :)

Against burning skies
alone among rolling waves -
a silent witness

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How to Write an Essay Part I

There are more types of essays than you can shake a stick at. And we'll go through all of them, eventually. But let's start with the basics.


What Is It?

The basic essay is the foundation for all other essays and papers. Luckily, it is fairly easy to learn. It consists of an introduction that introduces your thesis and topic; the body, in which you will prove the point you are trying to make through well thought out ideas and well researched sources that back up your claims; and a conclusion that sums up your arguments.

So, let's start with the beginning - The Introduction

The most important thing in your introduction is your thesis statement. We went over those a bit in Monday's post (click HERE for a recap). But your introduction should be more than just a one line thesis. It should be at least one whole paragraph. When your essays get more in-depth and more involved, you could have an introduction that is a page or longer.

So, what else would you include in an introduction?

I like to introduce the thesis statement a bit by starting out with a general statement and then moving on to a slightly more focused statement, followed by an even more focused statement, all leading up to the thesis. If you are writing your essay on a literary work or film, a nice quote from the work in question is always nice, as is a quote from a poem or historical figure, etc, about the topic you will be discussing.

I then follow the thesis with a line or two either briefly outlining the arguments I'll be presenting or elaborating on the thesis statement.


Your essay is about why cats were worshipped in Ancient Egypt. Your intro could look something like this...

Ancient Egypt was a civilization rich in culture and muli-faceted beliefs (General statement). The Egyptians worshipped a variety of gods, each of whom represented a certain aspect of life or death (A little more focused). One of the more popular goddesses was Bastet, who was portrayed either as a woman with the head of a cat, or as an actual cat (More focused). For this reason, cats were revered in Ancient Egypt (thesis statement). Along with their association with Bastet, cats were also special to the Egyptians because Reason 1, Reason 2, and Reason 3 (brief outline of the points I'll be hitting in the essay).

So! When writing your own introduction, come up with your thesis statement, what your essay will be about. Then preface that statement with a few general statements, and follow it with either a transition sentence or two leading into the body of the essay, or a brief outline of the arguments or info you'll be presenting in the essay.

Take it one sentence at a time and you'll have a perfect intro in no time!

Monday, September 21, 2009

How to Write a Paper Part I

First of all, for those of you who don't know me, I'm a writer. I like writing. I think it's fun :D And that includes writing things like research papers, essays for English class, and all forms of poetry. And I am aware that most of the literate world thinks I'm nuts. I'm okay with that.

But I think two of the main problems with people who hate this kind of thing are that 1. they pick (or are assigned) topics in which they have no interest; and 2. they just don't know how to do it.

If you are assigned a particular topic you hate, well, there's not much you can do there. Though you can try to focus the topic on an aspect of it that interests you. Writing a paper is going to be a lot less painful if you are actually interested in the subject matter.

Do you have to write a paper on a historical figure? Find one that did something you think is cool. And believe me, most of those boring, old farts your teacher is making you learn about did at least one cool thing in their life...or you wouldn't be learning about them.

Spend a few minutes with Google and find something, anything, that interests you about the topic at hand and write about that. Or better yet, if you are allowed to pick your own topic, pick something you love or always wanted to know more about. Now writing the paper will only be mildly uncomfortable instead of pure torture ;-D

Problem 2 - not knowing how to do it....well, we'll fix that problem here. I have a fail-proof 6 week program that will get your paper written neatly, efficiently, and mostly painlessly. And if you were given more than 6 weeks to write your assignment - well then, you'll be done early :)

This is WEEK ONE. For this week, your one and only assignment is to pick a topic. That's it. Simple huh? Just pick your topic. Now don't get lazy on me, though. Make sure that topic is narrowed down enough you can write a paper on it. If you want to write about cats, narrow it a bit. What kind of cats? What about cats specifically? Do you want to write about house cats? Big, wild cats? How cats were worshiped in Ancient Egypt? Get that topic narrowed.

While you're at it, write out your thesis statement. No, this is not an extra's part of picking your topic. It's the point of your paper, the reason you are writing, the point you want to get across, the...well, you get my point :)

So! Pick topic - Write thesis statement. You have a whole week. I can't make it any easier :)

(If you want to get ambitious, you could start picking out likely looking'll need those next week. But no worries if you don't feel like it. Just stick to the topic!) :D


Research or Term Paper: A research or term paper is a paper in which you present information on a specific topic backed up by other sources. It is similar to an essay. It follows the same steps and has the same basic purpose, but is generally longer and more in depth than an essay. Depending on your specific paper requirements, your paper could be simple presentation of facts, or a complex, in-depth analysis of your chosen subject.

Just as with essays, there can be many different types of research papers. Your paper could be analyzing a particular subject, (exploring the various aspects of the world of peanut butter), arguing your point of view on a topic, (proving why peanut butter is better than jelly), or comparing and contrasting two ideas or subjects, (discussing the similarities and differences between chunky and smooth peanut butter). A research paper is simply an expanded form of one of these essays.

Thesis Statement: According to = an explanation of the topic or purpose of a research paper.

In other words, it is the reason you are writing the paper, the focus of your paper, a firm declaration of what your paper will discuss. Does your paper prove that Robert Pattinson is the all-time best film vampire? Then your thesis statement would go something like this:

Robert Pattinson's portrayal of a vampire in the Twilight movie series is the best ever.

Is your paper proving why chunky peanut butter is better than creamy? You could say, "This paper will prove that chunky peanut butter is better than creamy peanut butter."

It doesn't have to be fancy. Just make it to the point so that anyone who picks up your paper can read that statement and immediately know what your paper is about.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Coming Soon!

Regular posts will begin on Monday, September 21, 2009. Stay tuned!!!