- This assignment is killing me!
- This assignment is difficult to focus on.
- This assignment is syphoning my brain out through my nose.
- This assignment is worse than eating the foam of a rabid dog!
- This assignment was conceived in a lab for malaria victims.
- This assignment would make Alice Clayton cringe.
- This assignment would stump Donald Trump.
- This assignment makes comedians cry.
- This assignment could be worse, but it’s still the end of the world as we know it.
- This assignment was fun!
Memoir: If you were to say, “my mommy is a hoarder,” people would give the pity nod and pat your arm. “How hard that must be for you,” they’d say in sympathetic tones. But if you were to say, “my mommy is habitually late,” what response would you get? The pity not? The pity pat? Probably not. Because being late isn’t the end of the world, is it? -First line of 5 Minutes Too Late: A Memoir of My Unending Struggle with Tardiness.
Academic Paper: Though many believe tardiness to be a laughable matter, fixable by setting watches five minutes ahead, it is, in reality, a chronic disease, one that plagues one out of six Americans every year.
Talk in Church: “Sorry, I was late. You wouldn’t believe the printers in this building. But the “wheat and the rye were not smitten, for they were not grown up.” Not sure what that means, but I think it’s saying even though I’m late, I shouldn’t be smitten.”
Fiction Novel: No one could miss a bus better than Jody. She was the unpunctual queen of barely missing all major and minor events in her life.
Science paper: The Chronic Lateness Syndrome or CLS is a frequent occurrence in college students under the age of 25. It manifests itself in Caucasian females with the hereditary disposition to habitual tardiness. Cures are yet unknown.
Pumped Up Fiction Sentence: When Jody missed the bus, it was an experience. Passengers on the B52 northbound brought their friends to watch, fingers pressed against the windows. The B52 left at 9:15 and Jody always came running at 9:15.5. She’d be shouting and tripping over her enormously long yellow scarf that always wrapped around her left leg like a baby giraffe neck. Mr. Caravagio, the bus driver loved watching Jody swear like a sailor from his rear view mirror. Her punctual pounding on the back of the bus while he pulled away onto Washington St was better than his ritual morning coffee.
Metaphor: Metaphor will forever be in my toolbox. Metaphor brings big concepts down to a manageable scale (Johnson 90), like turning crunchy carrots into baby food. Metaphors, for me, really shine in anyone’s style. You can be writing about the .015% increase of property tax law in the Winnemucca west district and all you have to do is throw out a metaphor comparing taxes to Ellen DeGeneres and readers instantly perk up. Metaphors have healing power (an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, I am the bread of life, etc.). They usually bring security by hearkening back to something recognizable.
Punctuation: Truly, the period and the comma make or break style. Lukeman in Dash of Style, says the period and comma have “supreme power.” Understanding when to use these two punctuation marks can turn fanfic into published fiction. Johnson says punctuation is meant to serve the writer, not the writer serve punctuation, and yet so often I feel enslaved by the comma because I’m not sure where it belongs. To understand punctuation literally means to control a sentence and to write a novel.
Poetic prose: Making a prose poetry is a secret weapon for a writer. It adds unexpected alliteration, rhythm, a surprise rhyme or two, basically turning the prose into art. According to Style: An Anti-Textbook there are many who scorn poetry as prose, but how can you not want to sound like Goldberg and Collins when you’re putting your soul on paper?
Verbs: Mark Twain said the right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. That’s why precise verbs matter. I struggle sometimes with overusing the “to be” verbs, like saying “he was sitting” rather than “he sat.” Passive verbs often lead to longer sentences and vagueness, such as “it is believed by pirates that all planks must be tested first.” Active verb sentences make the action present and quick to the point, such as “Pirates believe that planks must be tested first.”
Here’s a list of 26 active verbs: amplify, build, confine, diffuse, emit, fracture, galvanize, hypothesize, isolate, justify, locate, maximize, nullify, overstate, permeate, quantify, redefine, surmise, terrify, underscore, vindicate, withstand, yield, zip.
Throw away the rules: The Anti-textbook says “Nobody can—and nobody should—make rules about what prose can do.” Don’t get me wrong, I think you need to know the rules before you can toss them. But you can tell when a writer has checked out too many style books because they stick to rules even when it sounds unnatural. Writing should flow, like water—you don’t need to see the source to feel the power. But never fear! You can keep the rules on the first draft and then revise, revise, revise until it becomes your own.
First off, my style needs a lot of work. It still struggles standing on its own two feet. Second, defining style is difficult, since I feel everyone’s style is so fluid, changing to fit a need. My current style is a casual, personal, succinct marketing voice, much like Microstyle, since I’m the writer for a startup company. I just finished an email campaign that’s goal was to reengage past costumers. The trick was to write like you were a friend while still convincing the costumer to reuse us. Here’s one email I wrote:
Subject: Need clutter gone by Tuesday?
Hi there (name),
Doesn’t it seem like dirty clothes can clone themselves? Why not save yourself a trip to the laundromat and donate instead?
Just sack it, snap it, and slap it on your porch. We’ll take care of the rest.
My style had to have a catching subject line with a call to action and a quick, friendly, body to keep a reader’s interest—plus a little positive reinforcement. My style for the campaign meant breaking a lot of style rules (for instance, emojis became part of my style). Removing words was another trick I learned. I would change “talk to you soon” to “talk soon” because it had a unique feel, while being short and clear.
But my style is always changing. For my novel about pornography, I try to mimic the voice of an 18-year-old girl who loves acting. That means I take on a style that sounds young and may have incorrect grammar and use slang I would never use in academic writing. Here’s a paragraph in my girl’s voice from the novel: “In my town there are three traffic lights, a Happy Valley Christian Church, Luo’s Chinese/Mexican Buffet, and enough cows to supply McDonald’s for a year. And I’ve never left. I’ve lived in Condor Vista for exactly 17 years 11 months and three days.” This paragraph is meant to be an entertaining hook while still showing the desperation of an aspiring girl stuck in a deadbeat town.
Poetry is another way I find my style. Poetry lets you stick to a form (or break a form). It helps you express an idea in a limited amount of time. For me, it’s the ultimate way of finding the perfect word. I wish all school papers could be written as poems. Then we could truly capture an idea in a limited amount of words without pointlessly trying to fill up space. Plus, the teachers would like it 😉 Here’s a sonnet I wrote about integrity:
Can I go into that cold night alone?
to wander with no family at my side
where stillborn snow like feathers softly roam
and anchors make deep footsteps in the night
here fire warms my aching bones of flesh
and someone speaks sweet words into my ear
the stone casters have all been made to rest
and I am sovereign of each action here
the future can’t compete when moment’s stage
burns bridges that warm up the winter night
yet, cold has earned its place through every age
and night is but a breath from heaven’s sight
can I go into that cold night alone?
where only frozen snow will me condone
Microstyle is a great way to understand the info based world we live in. Everything arrives in the form of a text or a tweet or an ad in your spam box. The majority of what we read is short, informative, often funny messages, which is exactly the tone of Johnson’s book. After reading Microstyle you’ll be analyzing every billboard you see. Christopher Johnson, branding consultant, fills a need we universal writers have as we struggle to pack 140 characters into our twitter messages.Johnson will teach you how to deliver that message with the greatest punch possible. Johnson current examples from the media that make people born in the 90s able to understand his references best. His current examples and many jokes keep the book up to date and engaging. Johnson helped destale my own writing. He helped me focus on clear, plain, catchy writing and gave plenty of examples to show how to do it.
The only problem with Microstyle is that it would probably better serve someone in marketing and verbal branding, not an English major. But since even English majors want jobs, this book can educate anyone on the ways on making money through writing slogans.
Cam Noel Johnson, Porn Star Gone Activist, Dies at 90.
You either loved her or hated her. Cam Noel Johnson turned heads first as a porn star, but by the end of her life she turned hearts to her anti-porn campaign that sparked a nation to action. This curly haired spitfire, who loved pina coladas and Hemingway, grew up in Condor Vista, a town with around the population of an LA elementary school. Desperate for a change, at 18, Cam packed her bags for LA, to become Stella Star, amateur porn actress.
Cam lasted three months before she’d had enough. Her experience as a porn star would later be recorded in her autobiography, Dirty Days: “I was so broken, I didn’t even want to look at men. To leave the apartment was as difficult as Kalita Pierce replacing Donald Trump.” After a few mental break downs, a flight back to Condor Vista, and several rounds of therapy, Cam decided to go back to LA—but not as a porn star. As an actress.
She attended NYFA, acted in several startup plays, ran out of money, got a job at a call center, and worked a 9 to 5 shift for two years. She thought her acting days were over, when she met Michael Ashton, a blogger, turned documentarist, who wanted to know more about her three months in the pornography industry. Ashton was fascinated with her story. He urged her to help him craft a documentary to show the world a porn star’s daily ups and downs. Cam agreed, they set to work, the film was made, and in true film making fashion, the two fell in love.
The documentary, What a Girl Wants, was a Netflix hit. Cam would go on to film seven more documentaries while traveling coast to coast lecturing on her time spent in pornography, meeting with state officials, giving interviews, and coauthoring a book with fellow porn star, Sarah James. Her activism against prostitution and pornography led to awareness that eventually had amateur pornography outlawed and proof of age required before site entry.
Cam’s legacy is controversial, but it is undeniable that the heightened security around porn prevented many sex crimes and illegal exploitation of minors. “People weren’t talking openly about porn until Cam came along,” Michael Ashton said of Cam. “The industry hated her, but activists want a memorial erected in her honor.”
*This is a fictional character from Life is Joy.
First off, you must watch how crazy swimmers are:
Ok. You just became friends with a competitive swimmer and you want to be supportive by asking how his latest swim meet went. But you can’t understand when he says something like “The dumb official dq’d my fly touch so now I have to go to Dairy Queen.”
There’s a lot of funky jargon in the swimming world. To help you understand your new swim friend, I’ve complied a helpful list of lingo from the community of swimming.
DQ or Dq’d: This means your swimmer friend did something illegal during a race. The illegal something could be anything from not touching the wall to swimming under the lane line. Dairy Queen is often the comforting go to after such a humiliation.
Tapered: This is the time when your swimmer friend jumps onto every available piece of furniture because the workouts are too easy and he has excess amounts of energy.
Fly: a stroke, not an insect.
Back: another stroke. Only on your back.
Breast: a frog like stroke
Free: the stroke every non-swimmer calls the front crawl.
Warm down: The two sweetest words in a swimmer’s vocabulary. It means practice is over.
Sally-save-up: When a swimmer saves all her energy so she looks good at the end of practice.
Flip turns: It’s when swimmers somersault at walls.
50: Two laps
100: Four laps
200: Eight laps.
You get the idea.
Bonus lingo: The various nicknames (frog man, tattoo lady, polio guy) for the patrons who jump in your lane before you finish practice.
This kind of jargon is short, sweet, and to the point. It’s meant to be used by a coach shouting instructions at you while both ears are submerged in water. Without the established lingo, swimming would be ten times more boring than it already is.