Thursday, December 10, 2009

Around the Internet

Happy holidays! A quick post to keep us aware of the Internet is trying to tell us:

My colleagues and friends over at Jacksonville University's writing blog had a great and quick post about using sources in college papers. The summary:

1. Books written by a subject's expert
2. Newspaper articles
3. Online references from credible databases
Don't use:
1. Wiki-pedia
Hopefully, most collegiate writers know this already. Although, I think it's worth noting that blogs have become increasingly credible sources -- assuming the author is well-known or considered an authority.

Also, continuing a theme I've espoused here and here, I would like to point out a recent interview on the Writer's Digest website. The article, which interviews acclaimed author Mitch Albom (Tuesdays With Morrie), focuses around the idea of story-telling. Here's perhaps the best part:
Albom claims [writing successfully across genres] takes just one skill: storytelling. “I always tell people I learned to be a writer at the kitchen table,” he says. “We had a big family. You got to tell a story for about two seconds, and if you were boring, someone else just started talking right over you.” This ability to interest others in his characters—fictional or real—is central to every word he writes.
What's interesting about Albom is how he not only writes memoirs -- which naturally allow for story-telling -- but he also writes novels, screen adaptations, and has "maintained an active sportswriting career." That's a pretty impressive feet.

-Bradley Woodrum

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Perfect Punctuation: The Incredible Indelible Dash

Punctuation, for many — many — writers, represents a reprehensible beast, a monster with which grade school teachers tortured us, an entity of pure enmity — a featureless creature of ambiguous utility. Why do we need to learn this — asked we — Can't people still understand it without that comma?

If this is you, then behold: the em dash — the great weapon of Emily Dickinson's (right) affection, the very needle-tool of James Joyce's yarn spool!

Em dashes — which are the width of the letter 'm' and not found on your keyboard — "are used to set off or emphasize the content enclosed within dashes or the content that follows a dash," according to Purdue's excellent OWL site. In this definition, note carefully the uncertain term "to set off." This definition rightly implies that the dash — our mysterious friend — is capable of many things: