NaNoWriMo Writers! Keep going!
Today is day 12 of National Novel Writing Month. Week two is notoriously difficult for those participating in the marathon of novel-writing. Don’t give up! According to NaNoWriMo.org, by the end of the day, writers should be at about 20,000 of 50,000 words.
What are your writing goals for today? How are you doing?
Guest Post: Using Basic Rhetorical Tropes to Get What You Want
When I took my first rhetoric and composition class during freshman year of college, I was bored to tears. It wasn’t until years later, while studying rhetoric in greater depth, did I understand the importance of studying the finer points of persuasive writing. Its importance should not be reduced to developing sound communication skills to improve career prospects. Rather, knowing how to write (or alternatively, speak) persuasively is the key to getting what you want in almost anything in life. Using this line of thinking is an effective way of explaining the importance of rhetoric to your students, who may have difficulty understanding why they should even bother.
Employing persuasive writing techniques always starts with the basic building blocks of rhetoric, which include the four “master tropes”—metaphor, synecdoche, metonymy, and irony. For a more student-oriented approach, let’s look at these master tropes and how they may be employed in a common scenario—convincing your parents to give you more money.
Very few people realize how often metaphor is employed in every day speech and writing. A metaphor is usually defined as a figure of speech in which one tangible object or idea is used to represent something less concrete. In broader terms, a metaphor simply links two objects or ideas that are otherwise dissimilar but are alike in an important way. For example, let’s see how we may begin a note to the folks asking for much needed funds using metaphor:
Dear Mom and Dad,
Hope you are doing well. Thankfully, I’m doing okay. I cannot, however, say the same for the status of my bank account. It is an empty vessel, and I am powerless to refill it.
Here, comparing one’s bank account to an empty container brings home the idea of being broke.
Often, metonymy falls into the domain of metaphor, but there is an important distinction. Metonymy is a trope in which one object stands in for a set of objects or ideas. One common example is using “the Crown” to stand in for the various officials that make up the British monarchy. Continuing with our letter, let’s throw in some metonymy:
The reasons for my depleted bank account are various. I’ve tried to rectify this situation by taking action myself, but instead I thought I’d write you a note. As they say, “the pen is mightier than the sword.”
In this example, “pen” stands in for writing, while “sword” represents action.
This funny-sounding word, often mispronounced, (it’s syn-EK-dah-key, for the record), is essentially the inverse of metonymy. With metonymy, a whole stands for associated parts, while with synecdoche, a part is made to stand for the whole. Going back to our letter:
I’m not writing to beg. Far from it—I am writing to request funds that will be wisely invested in various educational ventures, the returns of which you will see once your child finishes school and benefits from such an enriching intellectual experience. After all, “man does not live on bread alone.”
In this example, we have two instances of synecdoche. “Man” represents, in a larger sense, all of mankind. “Bread”, although only part of what makes up food in general, stands for any sort of nutritional sustenance.
By far the most complex of rhetorical tropes, irony can mean several different things, and there is still an ongoing debate about what counts as ironic. The most basic definition of verbal irony can be summed up as this—the use of a word or phrase that is intended to mean its opposite, often to humorous effect. In terms of our letter, an ironic statement was earlier expressed: “I am not writing to beg.” Although clothed in language that “sounds” logical, this is precisely what the student is doing—begging. This discord between the denial of begging and the reality thus creates a humorous effect that the parents may find endearing.
Of course, these are just a few of the basic tropes used in rhetoric, and this is only one instance, if a little superficial, in which a writer may use them. Framing tropes in this sense, however, gives students insight into what constitutes good writing. Effective writing isn’t only about being rational. It’s about giving writing some style, by using these tropes, to interest and entertain readers. In the process, you may just get what you want after all.
This is a guest post by Nadia Jones who blogs at online college about education, college, student, teacher, money saving, movie related topics. You can reach her at email@example.com.
There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
Suspense: 4 Tips for Putting More Tension into Your Writing
What a fun picture. Why is this photo so good? Mainly, it inspires a sense of tension and suspense about how the victim of the prank will react.
The element that makes this an engaging photo also makes writing engaging — suspense. Surely, one of the most important elements when considering a good piece of fiction is how tense or suspenseful it is. However, creating tension in writing can be challenging. Here are some quick tricks for adding suspense to your writing.
1) Ticking clocks and deadlines
When a character is on a tight deadline, the sense of urgency naturally adds tension. A story built around a character who has to rush to the other side of the country to find a doctor for his dying mother is much more engaging than a story built around a quest without any ticking clock. Consider the significant amount of tension in J.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings as compared to his previous work, The Hobbit. In the former, Frodo’s mission to destroy the dangerous ring creates an implied “ticking time-bomb” that keeps readers on the edge of their seats much more so than in The Hobbit.
Putting your character in a perilous situation with various challenges is another surefire way to create tension. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series is a great example. Harry is in extreme peril throughout the entire series, and he consistently confronts challenges that put him in increasingly difficult situations. The danger creates worry and curiosity in the reader. How will this situation be overcome? How will the character escape? The suspense keeps the reader engaged.
Talking the reader through the characters’ worrying thoughts, doubts, and feelings reinforces suspense because it becomes clear that the characters don’t know how they might make it out of the situations they are in. The element of unknowing keeps the audience hooked. Many successful authors use this technique to great effect. In The Hunger Games Series, Suzanne Collins used this technique to create suspense around the true nature of Katniss and Peeta’s relationship.
4) Change of perspective
This technique can be used two ways. First, it can be used to leave one plot line hanging, while you attend to another. The reader will be left wondering what is going to happen in the previous plot line. Second, it can be used to give the reader information that will heighten understanding of the true situation and can create anticipation or anxiety about whether or not the characters will discover the truth.
The photo above is a great example of how this can work. If we are following the progression of the story from only the man’s perspective, there is not much interesting until after the water has spilled on him. If we stop before the event and leave his perspective for another, either the boy’s or a neutral observer’s, we get some information and begin to wonder what will happen next. Will the man get mad? Will the boy get in trouble? Will the man figure out who did it? Leaving the reader hanging while you explore another plot line or give perspective on the character’s situation will keep your audience engaged.
There are several more techniques for adding tension into your writing. If you are looking for more tips, check out: