I’ve taught freshman composition courses for almost two years now, expecting my diverse body of students from multicultural backgrounds to all coalesce and perform to one standard above all others: White Vernacular English (WVE) or White American Vernacular English (WAVE). As writers, we pride ourselves on being open-minded yet authentic, and we hope our students do the same—as long as they adhere to what we consider valid style of writing. Why have the rigid, outdated principles the foundation of college composition was built on not shifted to accept other vernaculars?
by Rebecca Rodriguez
In high school, we are given our first copy of Diana Hacker’s Rules for Writers, which we are commanded to worship. It’s not a bad book, by any means, and (if read for anything other than MLA citation instructions) specific information on sentence structure can be found within it. In fact, there is an entire section dedicated to taking wordy sentences and tightening them. ←Example→ There is a section on tightening wordy sentences.
Although fair warning is given that short sentences aren’t always concise, wordiness is considered ultimately taboo. Not only does it focus on eliminating redundancies, but it encourages us, the writers, to cut inflated phrases (e.g. change “At the present time…” into “Now...” or “Currently...”). We also must take every opportunity to reduce a clause into a phrases, or a phrase into a single word. Though we try not to worry about these rules outside of our research papers, it’s too late. Today’s generation of writers have already been brainwashed.
by Ashley Haden
Spending time on a college campus as finals near always leads to hearing familiar complaints in the air. These are complaints about the workload, upcoming exams, and, of course, writing papers. “I hate writing” is one of the most common complaints that I’ve noticed at a wide variety of grade levels. Students will often actively try to avoid writing if possible. Why is this?
by John Gross
Throughout time technology has changed how the writer crafts his novel. From pen and paper, to typewriters, to word processing—the tools of the trade are constantly evolving. In today’s world, the writer can craft a sentence and move it around to different places, supplementing paragraphs where he sees fit. This can be a powerful tool, that makes the revision process more fluid and dynamic. An author can be less committed to putting something on a page, where it can be easily reshaped, moved, and removed. While this technology has fundamentally changed how the novelist crafts his work, it hasn’t really changed how the reader consumes it. Sure, we are in a period of time that is showing the rise of e-readers and digital print, but ultimately the novel is being experienced in the same traditional way.
by Rachel Saltzman
It begins in middle school; writing skills are in a crucial stage of development, and so teachers are more focused on systematic writing such as essays, grammatical structures, and proper spelling. At this age, kids are taught what effective, tasteful writing incorporates, and which elementary techniques can be rushed to the curb for good. This is when ‘it’s raining cats and dogs,’ and other cute phrases that are found in children’s books, are banished from any and all forms of writing.
We all know (supposedly) what a cliché is, what it looks and sounds like. But why are clichés considered bad for writing? The common argument is that clichés and common tropes are overused, to the point where most casual readers cringe at the sight of one. If the goal of any writer is to craft a story, essay, or narrative using a unique and well-developed voice, then of course clichés can only impede the process. If these banal phrases, expressions, and ideas have long been exhausted, then where and when were they first used?
by Myriah Stubee
Annotating, marking up, commenting, writing in the margins...whatever you call it, marginalia has been around for as long as there has been writing. Students don't often like it, professors don't often give them a choice, and many avid readers don't even think about it anymore. Whatever your opinion about writing in your books, there is no doubt that it adds layer and nuance to the reading experience.
by Leslie Martinelli
A few years ago, I read that Encyclopedia Britannica no longer would be printing encyclopedias. Add that to the list of things from my childhood that no longer exist. Don't get me wrong - I'm not anti-progress. Where would we be without air conditioning, microwave ovens, and cell phones? And some of those extinct items deserved to go, like cars without seat belts and manual typewriters. But every now and then technology interferes where it doesn't belong, and I just have to say: Stop! Enough!
Encyclopedias are a case in point. Those printed volumes held many fond memories for me. The first set to enter my family’s house came by way of a door-to-door salesman. That set caused some conflict between my parents. My father had warned my mother time and again not to let salesmen in the front door, let alone buy from any of them. They were, he said, like seagulls - once you fed one of them, you couldn't get rid of the flock. Our house was testament to that caveat; we owned a top-of-the-line vacuum and enough brushes and cleaning products to supply the whole neighborhood. My mother stood by her latest purchase, though. As she saw it, that set of encyclopedias was an investment in my and my brothers’ educational futures.
by Michael Nusspickel
Multi-modal art has been gaining popularity among artists for the past decade, and it would be hard to argue that video games aren’t a means of creating a multi-modal experience for an audience. Within the genre of video games exists a niche sub-genre that logically should be the answer to many writer’s problems with choosing a medium, but it has barely been noticed (if at all) outside of the gaming community: the visual novel.
Visual novels are novels that use visual and audio cues alongside text to communicate their content. A mix between graphic novels, video games, and pure prose, the visual novel allows a writer to have a product with visual art as an integral part of the storytelling but without sacrificing one’s prose for it. Text is delivered through speech boxes, backgrounds and characters are drawn, and sound and music add to the experience. Visual novels offer everything a graphic novel does, but with the ability to ignore a graphic novel’s layout limitations on word count. They originated in Japan but have been around for well over a decade at this point, so the question becomes: how come they haven’t caught on with Western writers?
by Andrew Bates
There are certain unspoken rules amongst aficionados of media. One must always have a personal list of at least ten favorite works to call “the best” when called upon by others. When topics such as Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey come up, they must immediately refute them as terrible and trite. Using your cell phone in a dark movie theater is sacrilege. The arguably most important rule, and the one that is most common amongst media absorption, is that one must not reveal important dramatic turn of events.
In other words, tag your spoilers.
thoughts on writing, art, & new media by glassworks editorial staFF