Book Reviews (a practice in brevity)

Daily Prompt #5: Inspiration

Write about what inspires you. Be as specific as you can, writing in either list or paragraph form.

Take five minutes.

 

 

Writing Goals

Before we start talking about writing goals, let’s talk about what you’re already good at as a writer. In your notebook, write down 1-3 aspects of writing you feel you have strength in. We’ll brainstorm some ideas now to get you thinking.

Okay, now let’s talk about what want to improve upon: your writing goals for the semester. What are they? Why have them? How can you create useful ones?

Once you come up with them, write down your goals on the inside of your notebook cover, and be prepared to share one.


Keeping with our theme of the importance of reading this week, particularly reading like a writer, we are going to write book reviews. We are also going to practice the art of brevity because they have to be short – 100 words or less!

First, let’s talk about what makes a well-written review and what makes a poorly written review.

Now let’s practice together. Read the longer review I provide, then in groups, find a way to cut it down to 100 words (or less!). Write the review on white boards. We will share with the class.

 

Now, write your own. Once we get our blogs up and running, this book review will become your first blog post, so make sure to write it in your notebook so you don’t lose it!  I also recommend getting a GoodReads account and posting book reviews on there. It’s a great social networking site for readers!

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Goals and Reading like a Writer

Daily Prompt #6: Catharsis 

Catharsis – the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions.

It’s time to unleash any thoughts you have about the week or upcoming weekend.

Write for 7 minutes about anything you need to get off your chest.  The goal is to write the entire time.

Before we start talking about writing goals, let’s talk about what you’re already good at as a writer. On a post-it note, put your name and 1-3 aspects of writing you feel you have strength in. We’ll brainstorm some ideas now to get you thinking.

Okay, now let’s talk about what want to improve upon: your writing goals for the semester. What are they? Why have them? How can you create useful ones?

Once you come up with them, write down your goals on the inside of your notebook cover, and be prepared to share one.


 

One of the best ways to get inspired to write is by reading the works of writers. Let’s talk about what it means to read like a writer.

Now, let’s practice this concept by analyzing the first lines of several books.


With the time remaining, write as many “first lines” as you can for potential stories, trying a few difference techniques (for example, describing setting, dialogue, sharing statistics, plot details).

 

 

 

Writing Goals and Reading like a Writer

Daily Prompt #5: 

Catharsis – the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions.

It’s time to unleash any thoughts you have about the week or upcoming weekend.

Write for 7 minutes about anything you need to get off your chest.  The goal is to write the entire time.

Before we start talking about writing goals, let’s talk about what you’re already good at as a writer. On a post-it note, put your name and 1-3 aspects of writing you feel you have strength in. We’ll brainstorm some ideas now to get you thinking.

Okay, now let’s talk about what want to improve upon: your writing goals for the semester. What are they? Why have them? How can you create useful ones?

Tomorrow, you will be sharing your writing goals with the class. Come prepared by writing them down.

One of the best ways to get inspired to write is by reading the works of writers. Let’s talk about what it means to read like a writer.

Now, let’s practice this concept by analyzing the first lines of several books.

 

 

 

Oulipo Poetry and Old School (memoir)

Daily Prompt

WN #32: Oulipo Poetry

There are many different types of Oulipo poems, which are mathematical in nature.  One of the easiest forms to try is the “Snowball.”  There are two versions.

Version One: Write a poem in which each line gets progressively one word longer (first line is one word, second line is two words, third line is three words, etc.)  Here’s one I wrote.

Version Two: Write a poem where, within each line, the words get progressively longer (example: I am far from happy Mother reduced)

Want a challenge?  Click here for “N+7” approach.

Today, we’re going to read some of the memoir, Old School by Tobias Wolff.  As you read, write down questions you have for the author in your “Reading Like a Writer” section of your notebook.  You might actually get the chance to ask the author next week!

Before you leave, here’s our poem-of-day.

 

 

 

Reading like a Writer

Daily Prompt #24:  Catharsis

Write about whatever’s on your mind right now.

Write for five minutes.

Today is the last built-in day to read your current novel.  Book reviews are due this Friday, so the remainder of the week will be spent learning how to write a review.

Something you’ll have to identify in your review of the book is the writer’s style.  As you read, think about adjectives you could use to describe the style.  The list of terms I’m providing can help steer you in the right direction.  I recommend you attach it somewhere in your notebook.

After reading, flip to the reader’s section of your notebook.  Then, decide on one or two words that best describe the style and then explain why you think that. Discussing sentence structure, punctuation, characterization, plot, and other elements can all help you determine what a writer’s style is.

Happy reading!

Reading like a Writer

Daily Prompt #22:  Inspired by an Image

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Photo Credit: funny-pics-fun.com

Try your hand at caption writing today.  Write as many captions as you can in five minutes, incorporating as many types of punctuation as you can.

Be prepared to share.

Today is another chance to enjoy reading your novel and analyzing it as only a writer can.

Today’s focus is on – you guessed it – punctuation and syntax.

As you read, be mindful of how the author writes structurally.  What types of sentences?  What types of punctuation? What’s the frequency?  Do you see any mistakes?  Do they seem purposeful, or are they an example of poor editing? Use your cheat sheets this week as a guide.

After reading, open up your journals to your “reading like a writer” section.  Take a few minutes to write a reflection of your observations.  How do the author’s syntactical and punctuation choices create a style for the author and how would you define it?  As always, be prepared to discuss.

Happy reading!

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Sorry. I couldn’t resist.

 

Reading like a Writer

Daily Prompt #18:  Considering yourself as a character

Guess what?  There’s going to be a book written about you!  What’s the title?  
Come up with at least one idea that you think each of the following people would suggest.

* Yourself
* Your mom (or dad or guardian: your choice)
* Your best friend
* Your worst enemy (or someone who doesn’t really care for you or someone who doesn’t really know you)
* Your pet (or your favorite toy or possession)

Today is another chance to enjoy reading your novel and analyzing it as only a writer can.

Today’s focus is on character development.  In the reading section of your journal, write the name of the character you want to track in your reading.

As you read, keep track of how the author develops the character.  Do they rely on imagery?  Other characters’ perceptions?  Dialogue?  Character voice?  Jot down specific examples and page numbers.

Happy reading!

Reading like Writers

Daily Prompt

WN #14: Amazing First Lines

I have placed a stack of books at each of your tables.  Look through them and write down the first line you like the best in your notebook.  Write down briefly what you like about it.

Let’s discuss what makes these effective first lines and HOW the writers did it.

 

Now, for 30 minutes, I’d like you to read silently.

 


 

Now, until the end of class, I’d like you to jot down one word (an adjective) to describe the tone of the passage (somber, ecstatic, sarcastic).  Explain how the author created this tone and provide some examples.

Be prepared to share in class tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

Reading like Writers

Daily Prompt

WN #11:  Flash Fiction

Read the following piece of flash fiction written by your peer.

You’re a stranger, with MY secrets.     ~Vaughn Valentino

Incorporate this line into your own short piece of fiction.  It could be the first line, in the middle, or the last line. It’s up to you.

Write for ten minutes.

Today is our second day of reading like writers.  For 30 minutes, I’d like you to read silently.

As you read, I want you to be thinking about what the primary technique you believe the author is using in this section.  For example, do they rely more on dialogue or plot?  Do they use a lot of figurative language or simple sentences?  Try to be very aware of what the author is doing to keep your interest. Feel free to jot down notes to yourself as you read.

 


 

Now, for ten minutes, I want you to write down a reflection of today’s reading, focusing on the author’s techniques.

Be prepared to share in class tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

Reading like Writers

Daily Prompt

WN #9:  Making a list

Make a list of all the books and authors you’ve read that you really enjoy.

Under your list, write down specifics as to what you like about these books and authors, and if there are any trends in what you read, and why.

Write for five minutes.

Today is our first day of reading like writers.  For 30 minutes, I’d like you to read silently.

As you read, I want you to “mine for gold.”  When you come across a word, phrase, or sentence you love, write it down.  Reserve around ten pages at the back of your notebook for recording your thoughts on “Reading like a Writer.”  I have a post-it notes to give you to mark this part of your notebook.

 

 

Now, read over the words, phrases, and sentences you wrote down.  Then, write a paragraph explaining what it is you like about these words.  Be as specific as you can.  Take five minutes.

Now, for the remaining ten minutes, I’d like to share the “gold” we found.