Dzovak - Zach Sire Rachel - Sally Ge - Beth Lauren - Sri Audrey - Whitney Monica - Zack Gale Joy - Karen Jamie - Mallory Janet - Charla Diana - Tracy
You'll need to turn in your peer review with your final essay, but I need you to email it to me (and your partner) by Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. What should you do in the peer review? Exactly what I did when I commented on your drafts: edit spelling errors, grammatical infelicities, and indicate when sentences just sound wrong. In your final comments, I want you to answer the following questions which I've stolen from an email Barry sent to his class. He seems to know what he's talking about.
What's this story about?
Does the structure serve this story; does structure=story?
How effective is the opening? Does it grab-move us? Inform us? Frame the story?
Do you gain a good sense of the main characters? Do you care about them--do they matter to us?
Are there places where you'd suggests cuts or distilling?
Are there places where you want more?
Would you reorder segments?
How effective is the use of POV?
What about the writer's voice? Style?
Are there areas that confuse? Is there lack of clarity in places?
What are the elements of this piece you most appreciate?
So you think you want to write a profile? Well, it doesn't matter what you think, because you have to if you want to pass the class. So I'm forcing you to write a profile (there, that sounds better) and you can't find a suitable subject? The first thing I'd do is read this short article about how to think like a literary journalist. The second thing I'd do is start bouncing ideas around in the comment section below this post.
I've already talked to some of you in an informal way about your subject and have been impressed by the quality of the initial ideas. I also recommend looking at what other literary journalism students have written. (Most of those articles weren't written for LJ20, but I know one of Sheena Tahilramani's was.)
Scenes are the building blocks of narrative stories. Most good
narratives are made up of scenes, that not only drive the unfolding
story but also provide context and information. What are the elements
of a scene?
Description: You need to set the scene physically and
emotionally. Where are you? What's it look/feel like? Description
should be concrete, specific.
Character: Scenes involve people.
Dialogue: People interact with each other, within themselves.
Action: Something happens.
Point of view: Scenes are told from a point of view. Ominiscient narrator, the view of one of the characters, etc.
Intimate detail: Intimate detail, the kind the comes from research and/or immersion makes your scene seem real.
Because we tend to use scenes to provide context and information, we
often end up with scenes within scenes, and move around within time
within a scene. I've broken down Lee Gutkind's account (and reproduced it) below the fold. If you scroll further down, you'll see a sample scene analysis which, if y'all print it out and read it, we can talk about in class. It's not perfect, but as templates go, it's a fundamentally sound one.
First, since we'll be reading Susan Orlean's brilliant (Brilliant!) "The American Man at Age Ten" for Monday, I decided to follow through and post one link to her essay "Meet the Shaggs"; another to what's surely the Shagg's official homepage (on which you can download "My Pal Foot Foot" in its entirety) unless this one is; and finally, one to the Shagg's "artist page" on Amazon (where you can listen to 30-second samples of the songs). Now you have the full LJ-multimedia experience. Speaking of which...
...if you're seriously interested in screening Morris' The Thin Blue Line, I can arrange it. What I'll need to know from each of you is what the best time would be. All we'd need is a classroom and a couple of hours. You could bring candy and popcorn and soda and we could all experience much merriment watching the reenactment of a brutal murder and an unjust execution. Fun!
A quick note: I've written a fairly extensive account of how I think the courseblog's working so far. Feel free to chime in with your impressions. In fact, I'd love to hear whether you think my impressions accurate, inaccurate, kind of accurate, sort of accurate, of as accurate as the Devil's own accounting. Seriously. I not only welcome, I'd appreciate your comments.
Mark Singer's "Predilections" (in Sims/Kramer)
Click on the "Continue Reading" link below to register for your brazen display of leadership. (I'll update the master list as I receive your choices.)
Summarize in your own words Lee Gutkind's "Five R's for Literary Journalists" or Kramer's "Breakable Rules of Literary Journalism." You must do so before Sunday at 11:59 p.m. to receive credit for the assignment. Your summaries should be posted as comments to this entry. Otherwise we'll have 23 new posts (all of which say one of two things).
I see many intellectually engaging comments posted and am resisting with all my might the urge to respond to them...because I'm afraid that my "teacherly" response will shut down the discussion. I don't like having de facto fiat power, so I'll keep my mouth shut for now. But know that I am reading and we will be addressing the issues raised in class.