Friday, November 20, 2009

On Hiatus For A Bit

I am getting ready to move across the country so will be temporarily suspending posts here. Regular posting will resume in January for sure, hopefully sooner, but please feel free to send me any questions you may have. Use the question link on the sidebar, the contact button to email me, or leave a comment and I'll get back to you!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Poetry Game

Time to play! Head to Magnetic Poetry and choose up to 20 word tiles to create your poem and leave it in the comments! :) Have fun!

Here is mine:

A vast universe of time
devours me
have heart

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How To Write an Essay or Paper - Tone

Moving on with our literary tools for analysis - let's take a look at tone.


The relevant dictionary definition for tone is: The sound of a person's voice, expressing a feeling or mood; (or) the general character of something.

Now, obviously, when talking about literature, the tone isn't a literal, audible sound (unless read aloud). But the concept is the same. The tone of the piece expresses the mood of it and the meaning behind it. The tone of something can put quite a different spin on its meaning. For example, look at the sentence:

She's lame.

Said (or read) with a serious or sad tone, this would mean that the person in question is disabled or injured. With a sarcastic, snide, or mean tone, it would be an insult.

So, when analyzing a piece of literature, see if you can determine the tone of the story or a particular scene. Is it:
  • serious?
  • saracastic or tongue-in-cheek?
  • sad?
  • excited or happy?
  • toneless? (a simple narration of facts with no clue as to the meaning behind the words)
Then analyze what the tone does for the piece:
  • Does it lighten the mood?
  • Make the scene more serious?
  • Create drama or tension?
  • Create a sense of mystery or danger?
  • Does the tone affect or influence the reader?
  • Or maybe purposely, by lack of tone, not influence the reader in any way?
  • Would a different tone have worked better?
  • Why or why not?
 Go through the piece in question and see what the tone does - try reading lines in different tones and see how it works. What does it do? How does it work? And be sure to back up your statements with outside sources :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Poetry Game - Word Magnets

Time for another game! Go to Magnetic Poetry Online and choose up to 20 word tiles to create a poem. Leave it in the comments!!

Here is mine:

My prisoner
your sacred secret
I remember
or voice it
and embrace peace

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How to Write an Essay or Paper - Point of View

Another literary tool that you could analyze for a literary anaylsis paper would be Point of View.


Simply put, the point of view is the perspective from which the story is told. First, you need to determine what point of view is present in the literature you are analyzing. Here are the common choices:

First person - the narrator is generally the main character in the book and tells the story as "I" (I did this, I said, I felt)

First person plural - more rare, with the story told by "we" (we did this, we said that)

Second person - very rare - the reader is treated as a character and is referred to as "you." This type of POV works well for some non-fiction works. For example, if I was writing a How-to article, I could use this to say "First, you take the paint brush and apply paint. Then you do this and this and this." For fiction though, this POV isn't used often.

Third person limited - the narrator is outside the story but focuses on one character at a time. (He said, she said). While the POV may change between different characters, these changes would be separated by scene or chapter breaks.

Third person omniscient - the narrator is outside the story but doesn't focus on one character. The narrator knows all, sees all, conveys all.

Once you know which type of POV is being utilized in the piece of literature you are writing about, you can analyze how the use of the POV works in the story. Some questions you might ask could be:
  • Does the POV work well?
  • Why or why not?
  • Would it work better told from another POV?
  • Why or why not?
  • If the POV is third person limited, is the story told by one character or several?
  • If told by only one character, would the story have worked better told by more than one, or by a different character than the one chosen?
  • Why do you think the author chose the POV they did?
  • Does the POV limit the story? Intensify it? Create mystery? Create confusion?
Go through every aspect of the POV used in the story that you can think of, analyzing if it works well or not, using specific examples from the book and outside sources to back up your statements.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Apologies

Sorry for the absence of posts this week! I'm battling an allergic reaction to a new medication and the medicine to get rid of the reaction sort of knocks me out :D I'll be back next week!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Poetry - Magnet Game

Well, I found out how to make the magnets for this game, theoritcally, however, had trouble when I actually attempted to do it :)

But, I found another site where you can play this game. So! Everyone go to Poetry Game and create a poem using the poetry tiles. Then post what you come up with in the comments.

This is mine:

Your velvet voice haunts
A ghost of smoke
Devouring my fire
For eternity

Remember - if anyone has a question on how to write a specific type of poetry, hit the Ask Me button!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How To Write an Essay or Paper - Settings

The literary analysis is a type of essay or paper that every student will be asked to write at some point in their educational career. In fact, it is probably the most common type of assignment - at least in classes that involve literature.

Simply put, a literary analysis analyzes a piece of literature. Well, I suppose that is pretty obvious :)

But what types of things should you look at when writing a literary analysis? 

You've got your piece of literature, you know you are supposed to analyze it, but what in the world do you talk about?

While there are many ways of going about this, one of the best ways is to analyze different aspects of the book by looking at the literary tools the author has utilized.

What are these tools? 

They include things such as settings, characters, plot, imagery, symbolism and allegories, tone, point of view, and things like metaphors and similies (figurative language).

For today, we'll take a look at Settings. Now, some stories have more pronounced settings than others. In some books, the setting is more of a subtle background, the stage on which the actors play, while in others, the setting is almost a character in and of itself. Either way, the setting is a very important part of a story and as such, is a literary tool that is worthy of exploration.

Say you are asked to write a literary analysis of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Some questions you may want to consider when analyzing the setting of this book are:

  • What is the time period? Would this story have worked better set in a different time?
  • What is the location? Would the story have worked better elsewhere? Are several locations used in the story? Do they work? Would a specific scene have worked better in another setting? If all the scenes are set in the same location, would the story have worked better set in several different locations?
  • What season is the story set in? If it is set in winter, would it be better set in summer? Does the season echo what is happening in the story? (example: Do the love scenes occur in the summer while the trial occurs in the winter, or vice versa?)
  • What time of day is it when important events in the story take place? Do the sinister things happen at night while the happy things happen during the day? Why do you think this is? 
While the setting may seem like a simple part of the story, it can actually have a huge impact on what is going on. The events detailed in The Scarlet Letter either wouldn't have happened or would have happened in a very different way with a very different outcome if the story had been set someplace like the farthest frontier outpost or an indian village or in the southern states...even during the same time period.

The setting of a story, not just the physical location but everything about it (time of day, season, outside (forest or beach) or inside (and what type of building if inside)) can greatly impact the success of a story. Thoroughly exploring this literary tool can be a great start to your literary analysis.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thursdays Haiku

Here is another one to tickle your inspiration :) Leave your beautiful haiku in the comments ;D

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!!!