Monday, August 25, 2014

The First Day

The first day of class. Mostly it will consist of locating classrooms, finding seats next to students you believe share common interests, obtaining syllabi, and go through the "getting to know" activities.

No matter what your reaction to that first day, there's something else that should go on, and not just paying attention to syllabus policies. The classes you are in, the teachers in them, are all there for a purpose. The wildcard, though, is you.

Why are you, as a student, in the class? What are your goals? What do you hope to obtain from this class? What are you willing to do in this class? How important is one class related to another?

These are important questions. They deserve answers right away. The answers will shape your entire semester. Sit down. Give it some thought. Find your answers before the semester takes on a life of its own.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Word Processor Skills

Like it or not, we live in the electronic age. This brings with it certain advantages and disadvantages over what college writing was like in the past. Gone are the days when the only means to type an essay were on bulky electric typewriters in library basements because of the intense noise they produced. Typing on one of these machines was tedious. There were no font choices. The only extant font was courier. All formatting had to be done manually: Headers typed on every page, page numbers, and word wrap did not exist (though the better typewriters would beep to let you know you were near the edge of the page so you could move to the next line or quickly hyphenate your word). If a single mistake was made, you had to rip out the sheet and type it again.

Today's computers, internet, and printers come with their own challenges: Document file formats, too many font choices, document styles, images, graphics, watermarks, tables, charts, and endless numbers of features can overwhelm. And let's not even mention printer and email difficulties.

Unfortunately, there's a harsh truth in all of this. As students, it's your responsibility to learn your word processor. You are responsible for completing assignments as instructed, and difficulties with the technology are not a valid excuse. So in addition to learning how to write, argue, and analyze, you must also learn how to use your word processor. Many of these features actually make essay writing easier, taking the hassle out of such tasks as headers and page numbers. Below is a list of features you must know how to use.
  • Line spacing
  • Page spacing
  • Insert a page break
  • Disable widowing/orphaning
  • Margins
  • Font selection
  • Hanging indent
  • Headers
  • Insert footnote
  • Page numbers
  • Word count
  • Spell check
  • Save as different file format
Your best, first source of information on these features is within your word processor's own help. Searching for these terms should turn up useful information. You can also consult the internet and workers in campus computer labs for more help.

I strongly encourage everyone to experiment and search out how to do employ these features before you have need of them. Trying to figure out these features in the late hours of the night before an essay is due is not the time to learn about your word processor.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


     Ever forgotten to print out an assignment the day it's due? Ever meant to print it on campus but forgot your flash drive or to email the file to yourself? Ever had your computer completely crash and be unable to access that research paper on the hard drive?
    Just like the dog eating your homework, these are not valid excuses as to why you cannot turn in your assignment. Technical problems are part of every day life, and if you fall victim to them, there's nothing any of your teachers can do about it.
     However, there's a way to plan for these eventualities, with a file-syncing service. I give you Dropbox. Dropbox automatically synchronizes files online so you always have an up-to-date copy accessible at any time. It can be accessed anywhere there's an internet connection, and you don't have to be super tech savvy to use it.
     Go to their website here to find out more information about dropbox. New users start with 2 gb of storage space, but if you use this link you will receive an extra 250 mb of space. It doesn't end there. Check out this article at Lifehacker for many other ways to gain free space at Dropbox.
     Dropbox isn't the only file-syncing service, but it is probably the easiest and friendliest to use. You are free to use whatever service you like, or none at all, but when one of the above situations happens to you, you must live with the consequences.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Crw 150: Conflicts

Here are the blog posts I would like you to read about conflicts. It's a great little series of posts all by the same author, who gives some very sound advice about conflict and fight scenes in particular.

Why Would You Kick the Sh!t out of Your Characters
Reason, Stakes & Cost
Combat Scene: Zero Draft
Revising that Fight part 1
Revising that Fight part 2

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Crw 150 Conference CDs

Thanks to PC's wonderful librarians, a selection of the Desert Dreams 2010 Writing conference workshops are now on Reserve at the PC Library. All you need to do is simply bring ID (school or driver's license) to the circulation desk and explain the item is on reserve for the class. Items can be checked out for 1 week. Since they are on reserve, there is a $.50 per hour late charge, so make sure you get it back on time.

The following CDs are part of the collection:
Walking on the Wild Side: Writing Erotica/Fantasy
Demystifying the Plot and Subplot
Editor/Agent Panel (I highly recommend this one)
Working With the Dead
Social Networking Media for Authors
I Feel Witty, Oh So Witty
Building Suspense
Sex and the Single Title
Watching the Detectives
The How-To of Voice
The Good, The Bad, The Unforgettable: Creating Characters

A little more information and ordering information (for those interested) can be found here: Desert Dreams 2010. There are other workshops that I did not order, as well as other conferences you can search through for workshops.

If there is enough interest in certain workshops, I can see about approaching the library to purchase those as well.

Crw Manuscript Format

Current Manuscript format can be found on Janet Reid's blog, here: Manuscript Format
My own interpretation of this format can be found here:  Manuscript Format
For any interested in screenplay format, there's Script Frenzy Screenplay Format
Lastly, for stage plays, there's Script Frenzy Stage Format
For any interested, here are a couple of resources for comic book scripts,%20pp.%201-5&catid=37:Sample%20Scripts&Itemid=58
Brian Michael Bendis's Scripts: 

If there are requests for other format types, let me know in the comments.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Crw 150 Critique guidelines and forms

As discussed in class, here are the relevant links for the critique forms.

First is the word.doc which can be downloaded straight from GoogleDocs using this link: Downloadable Word Doc

Second is the rubric form, which contains all the guidelines for critiquing the class stories, found here: Critique Rubric

Lastly, for those who want it, is the print version of the critique form if you don't want to fill it out on the computer: Print Critique Form

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Eng 102 Asimov Readings

All of the short stories for the class are written by Isaac Asimov, and can be found on the Scribd website listed in the syllabus, or through the following link: Now, as this is a large book scanned into a pdf file on scribd, it will take some time to download to your computer, and scribd is not the fastest of websites in the first place. You do have two alternatives when it comes to the story as follows:

1) Buy the anthology I listed on the syllabus and showed you on the first day of class. There should be a few copies at local bookstores (not school textbook bookstores) available without the need to order more.

2) You can also find the Asimov readings in the class GoogleDocs folder. The file is called Isaac Asimov.pdf, or you can click the following link to be taken straight to it: Bear in mind the file is still fairly large, and might take some time to download. Use the page numbers found in the syllabus (or in the Google Calendar) to find the story you need.

Please try and bring copies of the story with you to class as you may need to reference it during class discussions. Please do not try and print out the whole book; print only those pages you need.

Crw 150 Creative Writing Prompts

Well, after perusing around the web a little bit, I found a couple of good sites with prompts that will help with your daily writing. Visit them when you get stuck for an idea on what to write, and they should help you out. Remember that you are not obligated to write on the exact prompt. If you get a slightly different idea, write on that!

You can also browse around looking for images on Google or Flickr for somethign that jogs the creative juices.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Common Technology topics for research

These are common topics I've seen successfully used in the past for research papers, and are quite acceptable to do research papers on. Please consider both sides of the topic, and figure out what your argument is, and what difficulties might present themselves with each topic. Some topics are inherently more difficult than others. Remember that the technology must be the focus, and to avoid evaluative language (ie: best, worst, etc.).

Digital medical records
Technology and health
Prosthetics, implants, bionics
Genetic engineering

Genetically enhanced food
Cloned food

Video Games as addictive
Video Games as educational
Video Games and violence
Internet addiction

Education using technology
Dependence on technology
Technology decreasing intelligence

New energy sources
"Green" Technology
Nuclear Power
Environment and technology
Animal testing

Photo Radar
Police technologies
Military technologies
Spy technologies

Electronic banking

     The following topics, reluctantly, I am disallowing for the research paper. These topics are banned because there really is no new argument.

Cellular Phones
Text messaging