Friday, November 19, 2010

Down to the wire

My desktop last night. For some reason whenever I write a paper I need to have at least 4-5 files for it: notes, outline, keywords, freewrite (where I just ramble out of order), and the final draft. I move between the files as well as my notebook in order to make sense of everything. I like using a notebook because I find that I need to physically write out notes from what I've been reading in order to retain the information better.

As much as I've taken a lot of writing courses over the past five years, I'm finding this to be the most difficult paper I've ever written. It has little to do with the length and more to with getting the content in order. I've never been good at putting things in order. I tend to jump around until everything falls into place. This paper has already had three outlines, each changing slightly.

The other difficulty with my thesis is that this isn't going to end up as an "academic" paper, it's going to be a design book. I'm writing very academically right now, but I know the final draft is going to end up focusing more on images and short bursts of information.  I need to process academically first before I can condense.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Something I forgot along the way

I'm currently writing a new outline of the beast that will become my thesis booklet. Along the way, I've written a few questions I hope to answer, the most important being:

Why do we tell stories?

In the course of reading "important" academic texts, I came to the high-minded answer that stories are told in order to "understand the human condition," "make sense of the world," "create a sense of empathy towards others" and so on. I only now realized that I missed a very important point:

Stories are told for the pleasure they bring to both storyteller and audience.

There is just something so fun about either telling or hearing a good story (I must admit, I am usually on the hearing end of a story).  This thesis may be an in-depth analysis of story and storytelling methods, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have to be dry and dull and overly "important."

So I'll end with a quote from the first essay of the book pictured above, titled "Trickster in a Suit of Lights: Thoughts on the Modern Short Story," in which Michael Chabon somehow makes the idea of entertainment a deep one:

"The best response to those who would cheapen and exploit [entertainment] is not to disparage or repudiate but to reclaim entertainment as a job fit for artists and for audiences, a two-way exchange of attention, experience, and the universal hunger for connection."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What's a Story? In Visuals/Words

 So, I've spent a lot of time figuring out my own personal definition of story and storytelling. While working on a presentation for this week I came up with some simple visuals to show what I mean. Unfortunately, I had to scrap this presentation and simplify, so the visuals weren't used, but I figured they could live on here.

This is a chart that most people have seen in grade school about plot. I think it's actually a good start, but the idea of rising and falling action can leave out a lot of stories. I think a lot of stories actually look like: