The Creative Writers’ Collaborative

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Mar 042012

Welcome to The Creative Writers’ Collaborative, an interactive resource for teachers, writers and students of the craft. While we all have our favorite writerly tips and tricks, this website serves as an information center, allowing us to share our most successful writing exercises and lessons with others.

Here at The Creative Writers’ Collaborative, we abide by the “take-a-penny, leave-a-penny” philosophy. It’s our great hope that you not only use these exercises and lessons regularly, but that you share yours with others as well.

Procedural Rhetoric in the Writing Classroom

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Sep 252010

With reference to the rhetoric and writing classroom, procedural rhetoric offers a vocabulary for analysis, and it also suggests possibilities for reflection, argumentation, and other modes of expression.  Bogost focuses on procedural rhetoric primarily as a means to discuss video games:  while video games might aim toward expression and persuasion through their stories, images, dialogue, music, etc., they also engage players through the rules, processes, and logics that they embody.  The procedures that video games embody make arguments about how the world works, about how it could, should, or doesn’t work.  I have outlined a specific lesson plan for practicing procedural analysis using video games here based on parts of Bogost’s book.  If you teach in a networked classroom, you can easily have students play and analyze short games in a single class period, both as a means of practicing rhetorical analysis but also as a way of engaging arguments about some aspect of the world.  The notion of procedural rhetoric can also help students reflect on the processes that structure various activities in their lives:  what procedures are most helpful/important/persuasive for writing a paper?  For being a good friend?  For getting the job you want after school?

Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

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Jun 302010

Since 1982 the English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.

I haven’t tried it yet myself, but I’m sure there are any number of terrific assignments and in-class exercises we could generate from this. Please let the rest of us know if you give it a try.

Nine Easy Steps to Longer Sentences

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Mar 232010

Are you tired of short, direct, and simple sentences that seem to take forever to fill up a page? Are you paid by the word? In either case you can benefit by increasing the number of words in your sentences and the bulk of your writing. And it’s easy if you just follow nine simple steps, many of which you may already know and practice.

As a complement to last year’s post on “Growing Sentences with David Foster Wallace”, here’s Kathy McGinty’s satirical “Nine Easy Steps to Longer Sentences”. Between the two of them, I’m sure there are some great exercises in style to be developed in WR101. As a fan of assignments that ask students to intentionally, constructively do things “wrong,” perhaps I’ll ask them to craft the most unwieldy sentences they can — and of course explain why they are problematic.

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