Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What I learned in English 1010


So I know it's been awhile...I'm sorry about that. But, I'm back now and I have a new article and I promise you that there are a lot of things in store for next year.

So, for my English final I was assigned to write a paper reflecting on what I'd learned in the class. This was my first shot at "modeling behavior". Modeling Behavior according to my Professor for the course is when "you do what you are trying to get others to do or understand. I think it turned out okay and I'm pretty proud of it. It might seem similar to other articles on this blog and therefore repetitive; but isn't that what writing is all about? Writing is hard work, you may not know where you are going- but that's where the "primary answers a.k.a. the fundamentals come into play. They help you get to where you need to be. So, here it is ...

(Please note that when I wrote this I was writing it in the present tense during finals)

Reflections Paper

What did I learn and what will I take away and put into use in future classes?

Writing is hard, but I love it. Never leave an assignment ‘til the last minute. “Writing is an act of faith.”- Jack Heffron. Bad writing sure does get the job done! Go through every tangent you think of and write it down, flesh it out, read it over, go to the Writing Center, and edit it…then you can turn it in! (Bonus points if it’s early!)

I hate sourcing things. I really, really, hate sourcing things. Sometimes I have problems doing reports. Research can be hard for me, I source other people’s stuff, but it seems like all I do is compile a bunch of people’s quotes. I need to make my reports uniquely my own.

And I’ve learned that it’s so much easier and more fun to type when you have a laptop.

Now I will personally demonstrate what I’ve learned in this class by turning the “bad writing” above into a cohesive paper...

What have I learned in English 1010 that I can put to use in future classes? I’ve learned that writing is a creative process. There is a beginning and an end; it doesn’t all come at once. Jack Heffron once said, “Writing is an act of faith”; which is completely true. Writing is a completely isolated journey where your task is to transform a tiny germ of an idea into a fully formed extension of your very being. Writing is hard, but it can be fulfilling as well; it isn’t impossible to write a good paper, you just have to write it down.

When you start out your prose will seem...bad. Don’t worry, that actually means you are starting out the right way. If you let go of your inhibitions and follow your every thought wherever it takes you and explore, you’ll end up with more original material than you knew you could create. Then, after you flesh them out later, it will begin to stand-alone. What you have to do next is to refine it.

The first thing I do when I begin to edit is read the paper from start to finish; most of the minor errors will jump out at me from my monitor. (Though it has been proven that this phenomenon can also occur on lined paper.) Then I’ll go onto fix the grammatically correct prose. How do you fix grammatically correct prose? Add more detail where you find it lacking and take away the embellishments that are unneeded, and then your grammatically correct prose will be articulate and cohesive.

If you are having a hard time with any stage of the writing process, feel free to get a second opinion. As long as they know what they are talking about, it doesn’t matter who you ask. One resource on campus that exists solely to help students with writing is the Writing Center. They won’t write your paper for you, but they’ll show you the way to your objective- be it brainstorming or the final stages of editing. I can’t accredit them enough.

There you have it, that’s what I’ve learned through taking this course. I still have a long way to go however; I have a really hard time writing reports. Which is a big problem since college is full of them. I’ll need to gather my sources faster, so I can fully process them and use them in my reports. I don’t want to compile a report of other people’s articles and comment on their views; I want to write a report where the articles support my ideas. If I improve in that regard I think they’d be more enjoyable to do, and I’d get better at doing them. I’ll have to work hard to get there but also remember what I’ve learned so far: write it down and then make it better.

And that's it! I know it's three days to late to say it, but Merry Christmas! One thing I'm glad I'm not to late to say however is Happy New Year. 2011 is going to be great guys!

See you later,


Monday, October 25, 2010

The Key to writing (Entry 2 of 3)

This took a long time (much longer than I thought) but after many false starts,I have found out what the second key of writing was; rewriting. I know that I'd already stated this in entry 1 but honestly, I was having a huge problem differentiating rewriting and editing, and figuring out if one came before the other in the writing process. But I finally found a reaffirmation of what I'd already thought, heh heh.

What makes rewriting and editing different? Because they are two closely entwined steps in the writing process! You may disagree with me about which one comes first, (that's what the comment bar is for at the bottom of the article, to give me feedback...Please!) but I think that this might just be up to personal preference! Rewriting is looking at the entire paper and to see if it "flows". Editing entails looking much more closely at every sentence and fixing it up with the precision of a Surgeon.

How do you go about determining the vitality of the flow of your paper? I think that the goal is for every thought to seem connected, logical, and coherent. If you need to rearrange paragraphs and sentences or delete whole passages from your paper to do that, go right ahead like a Lumberjack wielding dual chainsaws trying to down a pine tree! Do whatever you need to do to create the exact flow you want. It's okay to leave the spelling mistakes and grammatical errors in for now, you'll be taking care of them soon enough. You just have to make sure that the ideas and emotions that you're trying to convey through this "diamond in the rough" will shine after being cut and polished.

I guess you could say that I lumped rewriting and revision into the same "key", but I consider them to pretty much to be the same thing anyways...The end result makes the paper better in the end doesn't it? Who cares about those darned technicalities? Sorry again for taking so long for putting this out, (or even just plain updating the blog...) but I needed time to think this one over. After all, I should be learning too!


Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Vanity Assignment

Hey y'all!

So recently in English 1110 we were given an assignment to write a personal essay. So, I decided to do it on how writing has impacted my life, just so I could post the final draft as a blog post ha ha. So here it is(with only a couple of minor changes):

"How I discovered writing again"

When I was in the second grade, our student teacher read “Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone” to my class and I was transfixed. Even back then I knew how well written and original it was. That Christmas, Nana (My Grandmother) gave me a biography about the author: J.K. Rowling. Rowling brought herself out of rock bottom, by becoming a successful writer. As I kept reading, I learned how much depth and research she put into her work. She was a master because she truly loved the craft. It’s no wonder she came so far. She became my idol, I wanted to write stories and get them published one day. If she could come so far, so could I. Little did I know that through my imitation of J.K. Rowling that I would become pretty good at (and come to love) forming a creative extension of myself through writing. (Thanks to a lot of practice.)
Throughout the rest of grade school, I always looked forward to English. I could put my classmates’ writing to shame since creative thinking came naturally to me. In my spare time I always was coming up with story ideas, reading, and writing. When Middle School came around, I submitted a short story to the Writers and Artists Fest in both the 6th and 7th grades. I was accepted both years. I got to miss a day of school and get my work critiqued by actual writers! I felt that I was well on my way to becoming the next J.K. Rowling.
Then 8th grade came along to take me off my cloud. That year, English seemed like a History class with three times the course work. I faltered in it because it wasn’t a place where creativity was encouraged. I wrote less and less on my own, and began to give into self-doubt; my dream felt far away, more like a fantasy. I think I gave up on it sometime between 8th and 9th grade. I still liked English enough, but I stopped writing entirely.
When I started getting actual writing assignments (ones that asked for more than the standard mass produced answer.) again in 10th grade, I decided to give it one more go. As I started writing again, I was a bit rusty. But it all started coming back to me. I poured my heart into writing about helping a friend collect bugs for a project in the 7th grade. I was so proud of it, the old Katie who wanted to be like J.K. Rowling was back! I turned it in seeing stars. When it was returned to me however, there was a red C+ at the top of the paper next to my name. If I ever had a dream, it died that day.
When it came time to schedule my senior year, I had a slight dilemma. I needed to choose an English course. I’d always imagined taking A.P. English my senior year, but since I believed I wasn’t cut out for that stuff anymore I had narrowed down to three other classes: English 1010, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and Creative Writing. I chose the latter two since they sounded like fun. It might seem like I took the easy road- maybe I did, but I’m glad I took it. That’s what I needed then, a teacher with a Masters in creative writing (he taught both of those classes), and a place to learn and in some cases relearn the foundations of creative writing. If I didn’t take those classes, I might have never ended up writing again. (Which is frightening, but true.) I was having fun again, and I realized that I was still a pretty good writer. I read voraciously again, started checking out writing advice websites, and I even started a writing critique group (and this blog!) with three of my friends. Somewhere in the middle of all of that, my dream came back to me from the great beyond.
Even after graduation and starting college, I’m still unfazed. I know it will be hard, but I’m seriously considering Majoring in Creative Writing and becoming a freelance writer. I’m preparing myself vigorously for the challenge, because to me, writing is worth it; it keeps me going. I have too much to discover and to share to quit now. The real world can be tough, but so am I. I’m going to give writing the best shot I can become like J.K. Rowling.

And there it is! Any questions or comments? Post a comment here or on our wall, or send us an email at: cliffhanger.hangout@gmail.com.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010


John Bytheway in his book How to be Totally Miserable describes a place called the Imagi-Nation. The Imagi-Nation is the place where people go to imagine their wildest dreams. (Really?) I have a very vivid imagination. I have alway had one. When I was lonely or bored I would often tell my self stories to occupy myself.
My trips to the Imagi-Nation usually is the birth place of my stories. My daily experiences contributes to this process, such as books, music, movies, and life experiences. Lately, one particular song has been inspiring me. This is very unusual for me. I hated the activity in school when I had to write a story about a song.
The title of the song is Fantasia on a Theme By Thomas Tallis. The composer of this work is Ralph Vaughn Williams. His most recognizable work is Five Varients of Dives and Lazarus, more commonly known by If You Could Hie to Kolob. Fantasia on Theme By Thomas Tallis, in my opinion, has a story like quality. I could easily label the basic parts of a story within it.
Well enough talking about how wonderful this piece of music is. You can check it out. The You Tube version of the song is good, but I personally feel it is not the best version of the song. My personal favorite performance of the song can be found on iTunes. It is the one with Barry Wordsworth and The New Queens Orchestra.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My "Magna Carta"

Hey y'all,

Yeah, I know it's been awhile...sorry about that. But does beginning a new chapter in our lives at college count as an excuse for the blogging silence? No? Fine.

Here's something I made awhile ago that I just wanted to share; it's my "Magna Carta" of what I love and hate in story telling. What I love is what I aspire to, and the things I hate are what I want to avoid like the plague...Check it out!

What I love in Stories:
-GOOD first person narration
-I adore J.K. Rowling's usage of the limited third person point of view
-Smart plots
-Good and compelling villains
-Research (While there are things I admire about Dan Brown, I have to admit some of his research is rather...fabricated)
-Nice dialogue
-Well rounded characters
-Good and appropriate romance
-Interesting covers (But don't judge a book by its cover 'Kay?)

Things I hate in Stories:
-Boring first person narration (or any boring narration for that matter)
-Dumb formula based plots where I say, "Well, I saw that one coming..." A LOT
-Cliched two-dimensional characters
-Glaring research flaws or grammatical errors
-The lack of any positive messages
-Gratuitous inappropriateness or swearing/crude language
-Cheap ripoff covers
-When I think, "Why am I reading this?"
-Purple prose (Some prose is needed to establish setting and character traits but, less is more. Try to show us, don't tell us)

Well, there you go! I'll try to update as soon as I can!


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Our Fabulous New Schedule

After having a few meetings, we noticed that we weren't being as productive as we could be. So we have discussed and came up with this new and improved schedule. Here it is:

1.Snack and socializing time
2. Book Reviews/ current media discussion
3. Share writings
4. Writing prompts
5. Discuss blog

And our assignment will be to fill out a page with thoughts, ideas, or outlines, and etc.

- Jori

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Dreaded Persuasive Essay

It's that time of year again, Back to School!(Stop your booing. You know you love school.) Writing a essay is an essential skill. The essay in the persuasive variety causes dread in the hearts many young pupils everywhere. Yet, teachers seem to assign this type of essay often. With some simple tips you can learn to write a well-written persuasive essay too.
Study Guide and Strategies Website will help you write a well-written persuasive essay.


What does this characters name mean? Part 1

So recently my cousins and I were trying to search for the meaning of a certain name and we stumbled across this awesome site. When we couldn't stop searching for name meanings of people we knew, we decided to look at the names of some fictional characters from various works. I'll start out with something we should all be very familiar with:

"The Harry Potter series"
*Harry comes from the name "Harold", which is a male Scandinavian name which means "Army Ruler". And who was it again who led the fight against Voldemort again?
*Ron's full name is "Ronald" which is an English name for males which stands for "Advisor to the King". Ron is Harry's best friend, even if some of his advice is iffy.
*Hermione is a Greek name for females that means "Earthy". Not too much significance in her name, but it sounds like a name a really smart person would have.
*Draco is a Italian males name that mean "Dragon". Umm, yeah.
*Lily means "Blossoming Flower" in Latin and it's a girls name. There are a lot of flower based names in this series, Lily, Petunia, Pansy, and probably a couple more.
*James is supposedly a unisex name derived from Hebrew. It means "Supplanter".
*Sirius was a Greek name for males that meant "Sparkling and scorching". Sirius is also the name of a star that was heavily associated with dogs in Ancient times.

I could go on and on looking at all the names in "The Harry Potter series" because J.K. Rowling put so much thought into her characters names. If you want me to look up a particular name from "Harry Potter", just leave me a comment and I'll check it out for you.

Also, I'm going to write some more installments on name origins as evidenced by the "Part 1" thing-a-ma-jig placed in the title. I'm thinking about doing an article on "Twilight", "The Hunger Games series", "The Dark Divine series", and "Pride and Prejudice". If you have any suggestions for any other books or series, comment and tell me the name and what work it is from. I'd love to hear from you and help you out.


P.S. I am working on "The Key to writing part 2 and 3" as dedicatedly as possible in the midst of getting ready for college. I'll still update this blog, but when I have free time to write extra non-school related things. ;)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"The Creativity Crisis"

This is the best article I've seen in awhile about how and why creativity is going down, AND how to prevent it.


Friday, August 6, 2010

The key to writing (Entry 1 of 3)

Here after much ado, The first key of writing according to Katie:

The first great secret to writing is funnily enough, writing. Probably because of the simplicity of this truth however, most people will just disregard it...and get nothing done.

When writing it's important to remember that your rough draft is only that; a rough draft. By all means, write for quantity and follow your mind through every tangent it thinks up. This is true creativity. A great rule to remember about writing: less is less; and more is more. Always. This is true because when you find yourself in the editing stage you'll discover that editing a blank piece of paper is practically an impossible task when compared to patching up a not-quite-perfect literary composition.


P.S. The next two entries will deal with rewriting and editing, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Schedule for Monday's Meeting

Two points of clarification:
1. We are not the view. (Even though our schedule looks like a telecast for the view.)
2. Our group pronounces schedule the British way because it sounds so much cooler.

1. Book reviews, current media discussion, and what inspires us roundtable discussion. (About 10-15 minutes)
2. Share Writing: Detailed critiques of team members work. (About 30-45 minutes.)
3. Writing contests, 4 rounds of contests that last 5 minutes each. (20 minutes.)
4. Lesson of the week. (10-30 minutes.)


Monday, August 2, 2010

Our mission should we choose to accept it...

Well, since Danny was unable to attend our last meeting because he was sick we decided to make it short but but stimulating. So we (Lindsey, Jori, and me) decided to start off by talking about what inspires us and what kind of stories we like to create, (More on that in a future article...ha ha) what books we've read and how we liked them, and then we started our first GROUP CHALLENGE.

It's not that hard of a challenge except it might be hard to find the time to actually type it... Here it is: 200 to 500 words of original content of any genre and point of view the team member chooses. It *IS* our first one though so, hopefully we'll all have something nice and semi polished before the next time we meet up. (Oh, and don't worry; we filled Danny in so he won't fall behind;))


P.S. "The key to writing" will be up on this site soon, so don't think that I forgot ha ha! It's shaping up nicely. Until next time then!

Friday, July 30, 2010


Give Danny an adventure through space keeping backround description to the minimum and focusing on the trip itself and the interaction with the crew. Giving actions through diolouge.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"The Cliff Hangers" explained

Hi, my name is Katie. I am a member of a four person writing critique group called "The Cliff Hangers". We decided to start a blog and a Facebook group to chronicle our progress, to post our work, share what we've learned, and sometimes just to post interesting or fun things we find and link from other media. Hopefully, someone out there will find this site useful other than us...Oh well.
P.S. Coming soon from me will be an article called "The key to writing". So watch out for it!