Tag: novelist

The Purpose of the Science Fiction Novel

Gateway to Upper Wharfedale

Where fantasy goes into uncharted territory, the kind of story that could not exist, science fiction, a term made famous by the likes of Philip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov, and Robert Heinlein, goes into charted territory. Let's make sense of that last statement: Science fiction is based on truths, questions of reality, and questions of survival. Its purpose is to go where other fiction can not. Unlike horror, it tells something far more dangerous because it could happen. Unlike mystery, there is not always someone at the other end of the gun, maybe "something" instead. Like mainstream work, it proposes fascinating philosophies on mankind in the past, present, and future.

When reporters talked of space stations maybe they were onto something. When Star Trek characters could talk to each other on small, hand-held phones, most thought it was too good to be true. Now we have cell phones, computers that can talk, computers that can think in some ways, and a variety of other ideas that were often suggested in science fiction.

But the science fiction novel has its own place outside of the realm of Star Trek and Star Wars. For one, the legend must be created in words, not film or TV images. Second, the writers behind it are often as much philosophers as authors. Lastly, science fiction is its own frontier, a place for free thinking.

The thesis for all this would be that the science fiction novel engages a reader in a "This is how it could happen." The purpose is, as in all writing, to say something different. Long before "War of the Worlds" and even longer before Star Trek and Star Wars, people looked to the skies with hope, emboldening their legends with all kinds of flying creatures-angels, demons, sometimes aliens-who could do things they could not . That is exactly the purpose of the modern science fiction novel-it says we, the human race, can do something that right now we can not.

The final purpose of the science fiction novel is always to make a mark on society. Star Trek could only go so far. When one looks at a science fiction novel, however, sometimes it seemsingly is a race to the finish instead of a treat on life in the future. Something is always happening; it happens fast. Take Philip K. Dick, for example, who once wrote 11 novels in 2 years (he used various drugs, much like Hunter Thompson, to improve writing speed). However, there is nothing superficial about the science fiction novel. This is because even films have a hard time capturing the legion of ideas presented in the classics, like "The Man In the High Castle," Philip K. Dick's best novel. If any film does capture the purpose of science fiction, it's "Blade Runner," considered to be one of the best films of all time, based on the Philip K. Dick story "Do Andods Dream of Electric Sheep?"

Where it can be hard to pin down the modern science fiction novel, it can easily be seen that writing one can be a lucid ride into the unexplored. One of the best in recent memory is "Hyperion," a science fiction novel that won the famous Hugo award. Here, Simmons explored what is real, much like Philip K. Dick, and did it as though he was poet, forming a tale of seven pilgrims to a far away world, much like "The Canterbury Tales."

Some of the finest novels of the 20th century were labeled "junk" because they explored taboo subjects or had sexually revealing covers. Without the likes of Philip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and the hundreds of other talents, maybe there would have been no Star Trek, Star Wars, or Battlestar Galactica. Without the junk science fiction novel bought for a nickel in the 1940s and 50s maybe mankind would never have dreamed of stepping on the moon in the 1960s.

Writing Without Rules

The Cuban Queen Bordello

How does that work when you have writer's block? Even famous authors can suffer from writer's block. It can be very frustrating when you have a deadline and have to get that essay or report in on time.

What causes writer's block? Think back to your time in English class in school. Your teacher wants you to write an essay about Shakespeare or your thoughts on a particular poem for your homework. This you find boring. As you sit at home with your copy book open on a blank page the clock ticks loudly in the background. It is not happening. There is no enjoyment in the task. Teacher has set certain criteria about what has to be included in the essay, how long the essay should be, specific very important points that need to be expanded on and of course your own opinion. The list is endless and monotonous. The deadline is tomorrow morning first thing.

The stress levels are fairly high now. Where has the fun gone? Many adults have memories from school similar to this one. Now when you sit down to prepare a report or article this memory from your school years is playing in the back of your mind. You may not be aware of it but if you are sitting in front of a blank screen or piece of paper then there is a traumatic memory in there somewhere from your school days.

So what can you do about writer's block? Give this exercise a go before you start. Hold a pen in your non-dominant hand. Hold the palm of your other hand in front of you and draw what you see without looking at the page. Keep your eyes focused on all the creases and undulations of the palm of your hand. This is not about the finished piece of artwork. This is about the process.

You activate the right side of your brain when you draw with your non-dominant hand. This part of your brain is responsible for your creativity. The left side of your brain is you logical and analytical side. This is the side where you can get thought up in all the detail – such as all the points the teacher wanted included in the essay, the length of the essay and all the other 'teachers' rules from you school days.

When you activate the right side of your brain you will release your creativity and the ideas will start to flow. It will be a lot easier to write. Forget all the rules which the English teacher set. The only rule here is there are no rules. Give it a go and have fun writing without rules.

Storytellers Are Better Writers

Qoʻqon UZ - Dakhmai-Shokhon 02

"Three apples fell from heaven, one for the teller, one for the listener and one for the one who heads the tale." Armenian Proverb

Everyone loves a good story, whether from a book, a spoken tale, or a movie. However, most people, children and adult alike, would say, "I can not tell stories." The truth is, everyone can tell a story, they just need to know how. Telling stories is reliably easy because you do not repeat the story word-for-word. When memorizing a poem or scripture each word must be correct. A story requires two abilities: memory and imagination. Both are skills children have in abundance. Why not hatred that talent to teach your children writing?

If you want to see your children's writing soar, teach them to be storytellers. Like reading or cooking or working cooperatively with others, storytelling is a life skill. When your child gets the knack of storytelling in everyday circumstances he will have a lasting nationality and write more expressively, be attuned to the beauty of language, give a listening ear to others telling a good story, recognize good writing, and think more imaginatively.

Using storytelling in your homeschool brings a great deal more than the enjoyment of stories. You are giving your children a foundation in orality . Just as literacy is the ability to read and write, orality is the ability to speak and listen. All four modes-reading, writing, speaking, and listening-make up human communication. Orality supports literacy. Storytelling is the highest form of orality.

Typically to help a child read better and write better we make him do more of both, usually with some resistance. The most effective way to improve literacy is to increase oral language experiences, like narration, recitation, play-acting, to name a few. Storytelling is the best form of oral language experience because the teller internalizes a set of relationships and structures that they can then map back onto experience. Think of a fairy tale you love. What does it show you? The value of being kind, the lowest often makes it to the top, the need for merit and honesty, are just a few.

Orality takes the form of stories, rhymes, sayings, conversation, and songs. Using oral language experiences with preschool children is easy, since they are preliterate and in love with words. It is sheer fun to giggle with a toddler and say a nonsense rhyme.

Once children master reading, however, the focus tends to be on the printed word and sadly, speaking and listening beginning to lag behind. To achieve their best in reading and writing, elementary students must continue to develop their oral skills of speaking and listening.

How can I bring a great orality to my homeschool?

Here are a few simple, easy to do activities that require little or no preparation:

1. Read aloud to your children every day. Pick stories and books that have a strong plot and rich use of language. Avoid adaptations of well-known stories or books.

2. Use narration every day. Narration is the art of telling back in your own words a passage that is read.

3. Do simple nursery rhymes and finger-plays with your children. If you have older children, teach them so they can do finger-plays with the younger ones. You can find books of finger-plays and nursery rhymes at your library. A few well-know rhymes are: "Jack and Jill", "Hey, Diddle Diddle, the Cat and Fiddle", "Little Miss Muffet", and "The Itsy Bitsy Spider"

4. Make storytelling a special time during the day or week. Use folktale collections or picture books that are retellings of folktales and ask your elementary age children to learn to tell them.

Tell stories about your own life. All children love to hear about when their parents were little.

6. Tell simple, well-known stories such as "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," "Ten Little Monkeys." See if your children can tell all or part of the story themselves.

What does all this have to do with writing?

If you want to help children improve their writing you have them write? Right? Wrong. When children are asked to do writing, they often struggle because they are asked to perform two very different developmental tasks-write and think spontaneously. One task at a time is usually no problem; but, both at once require a certain amount of maturity. Begin from a different point — try having your child tell rather than write the sentence, paragraph or story.

The process

Here's the process: compose orally, revise orally, then-and only then-write it down. At another time ask your child to check for accuracy in grammar and punctuation but certainly not when they are composing (orally or in writing). That's it. It sounds simple and it is. However, to see results requires consistency and a light touch. Your child needs to become accustomed to thinking out loud. Be patient and praise all efforts. Be sure to offer guidelines at the start but do not prompt with answers. There are no wrong answers with this approach, only good, better and best. Let your child sometimes play turn-about and have you try the process.

If you're ready to give the process a try, set aside the writing workbooks for a time (you can always come back to them later). The results will amaze you.

To Learn More

To learn more about how to tell stories, check your library for the following books:

The Storyteller's Start-Up Book: Finding, Learning, Performing, and Using Folktales: Including Twelve Tellable Tales, Margaret Read MacDonald

This is an easy-to-understand handbook that gets you started telling.

The Way of the Storyteller, Ruth Sawyer

This is a classic of storytelling literature and one of my favorites that I go to for inspiration

How Writers Can Benefit From the Short Story Market

portrait:

There are countless writers out there who dream of someday selling a novel manuscript and being able to make a full-time living as a professional writer or novelist. Just imagine being able to quit your day job and spend your time doing what you love, writing and editing your own manuscripts, attending book reading events, and promoting your work. Many professional writers eventually go on to receive a job as a creative writing professor at a local university, teaching students how to perfect their own craft. It’s a great dream, but unfortunately most amateur writers take the wrong approach to trying to get their work published and become a full-time professional writer. Here are a few tips about using the short story market to perfect your writing, get your name out there and eventually sell a novel manuscript.

First, let’s get a few things straight about publishing short stories. It’s definitely not glamorous, and there’s not a whole lot of money in it. Most literary magazines only give a few bucks to writers for the short stories they publish, so it isn’t going to make you rich. And their readership is usually very low, so you aren’t going to become famous by publishing short stories, either. Sure, there are a few exceptions to the rule that have huge readerships and give big payouts if they decide to publish your work, but getting your writing accepted there is extremely tough, even if you are a superb writer.

So, if the short story market pays so poorly and has such a low readership, why do we suggest that you go there first if you eventually want to become a novelist? Well, there are a three reasons. The first is that the short story market helps writers perfect their writing, and the feedback you receive from editors will help you become a better short story writer and novelist. The second is that it helps you get used to how to actually submit work to editors, and the process that is involved with getting published. And the third is that it will help you build up your writing resume. A publishing company is much more likely to read a manuscript from a writer who has been published in several literary magazines, even if they were small publications.

There is also another reason why getting published in small literary magazines is good for the new writer, and that is it helps bolster your own self esteem as a writer. Even if it is a small literary magazine, there’s nothing like the feeling of seeing your work in print for the first time. When an editor makes a conscious decision to choose your writing over the work of someone else, and publishes it in his magazine, it is a great encouragement. You’ll be able to share your published work with friends and colleagues, and it will make you feel much more legitimate as a writer.

So if you want to be the next great novelist, don’t be afraid to explore the short story market before taking a stab at your first novel. It will help you become a better writer, learn about the submission and publication process, and help you build up a solid resume for potential publishers to look at the next time you submit your writing.

Writing Without Rules

Belmont House

How does that work when you have writer's block? Even famous authors can suffer from writer's block. It can be very frustrating when you have a deadline and have to get that essay or report in on time.

What causes writer's block? Think back to your time in English class in school. Your teacher wants you to write an essay about Shakespeare or your thoughts on a particular poem for your homework. This you find boring. As you sit at home with your copy book open on a blank page the clock ticks loudly in the background. It is not happening. There is no enjoyment in the task. Teacher has set certain criteria about what has to be included in the essay, how long the essay should be, specific very important points that need to be expanded on and of course your own opinion. The list is endless and monotonous. The deadline is tomorrow morning first thing.

The stress levels are fairly high now. Where has the fun gone? Many adults have memories from school similar to this one. Now when you sit down to prepare a report or article this memory from your school years is playing in the back of your mind. You may not be aware of it but if you are sitting in front of a blank screen or piece of paper then there is a traumatic memory in there somewhere from your school days.

So what can you do about writer's block? Give this exercise a go before you start. Hold a pen in your non-dominant hand. Hold the palm of your other hand in front of you and draw what you see without looking at the page. Keep your eyes focused on all the creases and undulations of the palm of your hand. This is not about the finished piece of artwork. This is about the process.

You activate the right side of your brain when you draw with your non-dominant hand. This part of your brain is responsible for your creativity. The left side of your brain is you logical and analytical side. This is the side where you can get thought up in all the detail – such as all the points the teacher wanted included in the essay, the length of the essay and all the other 'teachers' rules from you school days.

When you activate the right side of your brain you will release your creativity and the ideas will start to flow. It will be a lot easier to write. Forget all the rules which the English teacher set. The only rule here is there are no rules. Give it a go and have fun writing without rules.

Make Money Writing Recipes

The Huc bridge at night

Could you make some money by writing recipes?

You do not need me to tell you that top TV chefs like Jamie Oliver and Delia Smith have made MILLIONS from selling their recipes. Delia is in fact the UK's best selling cookery author having sold 21 million books … imagine if you had a pound or two from each of those!

What you might not know is that Delia Smith started out as a humble recipe writer. Her first piece featured kipper pâté, beef in beer and cheesecake – an exotic dish back in the 60s! So how could you follow in the footsteps of the famous cookery writers and make some money from selling your recipes?

There are a LOT of recipes out there. So you need to be quite smart if you want to sell them. Here are a few tips:

* Your recipe ideas need to be original. Never try and sell recipes that you've read in another book. Traditional old family recipes are great for selling – as long as they are original. Or recipes you've found when on holiday abroad.
Recipes that are tasty-but-cheap are also in big demand right now.

* A clever idea is to take an existing recipe and give a unique twist and so make it your own. For example, take a classic recipe and convert it into a healthier, low fat one that is just as good. Or make it suitable for those with a food intolerance.

* Before you try selling anything, try and have a range of related recipes so that if one sells you have others ready and waiting to offer. Recipes for entire meals (or dinner parties) are also a good idea.

* Research your recipe clear. We've all tried recipes from magazines and so on that the writer has obviously never made. They usually turn out to be a disaster. So make sure you ACTUALLY try your recipes for family meals and so on to make sure they work.

* Make your recipe sound interesting. Create a story behind it that will help with selling. For example, my children would not touch fruit … until I created this recipe for them … now they love it!

So then, how could you make money from recipes:

* Women's magazines. Need lots and lots of recipes. For example, Good To Know pays £ 25 for any recipes they use. Details here: http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes/471694/Share-your-recipes-with-Cake-corner
* Book publishers. Sometimes buy recipes for collections.
* Sell on eBay. Create a collection of recipes and try selling them using eBay classified ads. It's easy and cheap. (To do this you'll need to pop your recipes on a CD to sell them.)
* Classified ads. in magazines. If you try this be sure to create recipes which will appeal to the type of people who read the magazine.
* Publish your own eBook.
* Sell it to food product manufacturers. Many manufacturers print recipe ideas on their product packaging and are often short of new ideas as all the old favorites have been used up. (Make sure that their brand is actually used in the recipe though!)

One last thing, you can also send recipes in to COMPETITIONS to win prizes instead of a fixed fee. Hormel
Foods who produce the famous Spam have an annual Cook of the Year competition.

What Makes a Writer a Writer?

Shades of Praguian Yellow

An interesting discussion on LinkedIn is swirling around the topic of when a writer can call themselves a writer.. As I’ve watched the discussion unfold, some interesting ideas have cropped up. They are worth considering.

A writer is someone who has been published offline.

Considering that a large segment of the writing work available is almost exclusively online today, this definition just can’t hold true. While it is almost guaranteed that someone who has broken into hard print is a very good writer, it doesn’t preclude someone who has never had their work published in traditional media from being considered a writer.

A writer is someone who knows their grammar, punctuation rules and how to spell things correctly.

I’m not prepared to say this is true because I know that publishers, magazines and newspapers all hire copy editors for one very good reason. Not every writer on the team has good spelling skills. No writer’s punctuation skills are perfect. And everyone has certain words they almost always type incorrectly. I’ve been a copy editor. It’s always easier to see others mistakes.

For me, I have to watch dropping the “r” on your, adding a “d” in college and several other persistent misspellings. There are words I consistently add extra letters to and others I drop letters from almost every time I type them. And most of the time, they are words, so spell check doesn’t catch them.

At the same time, if a writer can’t tell the difference between when to use your and you’re or its and it’s, it will be an obstacle to achieving a higher pays scale. Excellence in every aspect of writing is essential if you want to be taken seriously.

A writer is a professional who makes a consistent income from writing.

This can be true. The definition of consistent may vary. I know that I began by earning only a few hundred dollars a month from writing work. I had some months where I had no income from that source. At the same time, I was consistently seeking work. As a writing professional I took action.

  • I actively built my portfolio.
  • I built a free website on Office Live.
  • I focused on bridging the gap from when I studied journalism to what the market demands of writers today.
  • I applied every piece of knowledge I gained into strengthening my ability to write compelling materials.

To put the title “writer” on a resume, suggest you need to be more than someone who has started their own blog. Despite the fact that I have a ghostwriting tips blog, it isn’t this blog that makes me a writer. It’s the fact that people read this blog and actually benefit from it that supports my claim that I am a writer.

A writer is someone who can explain different topics in language that the average person can understand.

This truly is a skill that not everyone possesses. In some ways, every writer needs to have a teacher’s heart, the ability to break things down into understandable packets. Some writers are gifted with the ability to reach very young minds. That’s why there are writers of children’s books. Other writers just can’t get down to that level, yet remain effective writers for a different audience.

A writer is more than someone who starts their own blog.

There are good blogs and so-so blogs. To truly claim to be a writer, the blog can’t be riddled with grammar errors. A few spelling and punctuation errors are forgivable, especially as most blog writers can’t afford a separate set of eyes to edit their work.

A writer is someone who crafts words to influence others.

It’s the power to dig into the meaning of words and craft them as you have done that signifies a writer. The fact that you can express your arguments succinctly using words in their written form defines that you are a writer. Maybe that is the definition we should be holding to here. “A writer is someone who can write with words so effectively they can influence others whether they do it for pay or not.”

It’s not whether your work appears on the eviscerated remnants of a tree or on the electronic representation of a page that makes you a writer. It’s whether your words move and/or motivate. A novelist may move through the creation of characters and plots. A web writer may motivate to action by carefully chosen words.

Both are writers. Both use their power over words to create an experience in the mind. That experience wouldn’t be there without the writer’s ability to craft words.

What makes a writer a writer? We’ll probably never be able to agree on a single definition. Too may people would disagree with the writer’s version of the artist’s definition, “A writer is a writer because he/she writes.”

What Makes a Person Intelligent?

Golden Lane (Zlatá ulička), Prague, Czechia, June 12, 2017 264

In traditional intelligence theories when one is asked the question “What makes a person intelligent?” the most common responses will often note a person’s ability to solve problems, utilize logic, and think critically. These typical traits of intelligence are sometimes grouped together under the heading “raw intelligence”. A person’s intelligence, traditionally speaking, is contained in their intellect. In other words, how we each understand, evaluate or respond to external stimuli, regardless as to whether it is a mathematical problem or anticipation of an opponent’s next move in a game, is our collective intelligence. Our intelligence therefore, is our individual, collective ability to act or react in a continually changing environment.

The principal problem in traditional intelligence theories is that they promote “fractured learning”. Many educational reformers have clearly stated that “taking tests merely shows that a student is skilled at taking tests”. At best, traditional tests focus on only about one tenth of an individual’s intellect. Note that Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison, two of history’s most famous examples of brilliant minds, were terrible at taking traditional tests, therefore terrible at “school” in general. Multiple Intelligences theory then, demonstrates that the ability to take traditional tests is almost entirely in the realm of the Logical – Mathematical

intelligence. This intelligence will be detailed later along with the Interpersonal intelligence, which imparts in some students the ability to second guess a teacher’s structuring of a test. Traditional IQ tests predict school performance with considerable accuracy, but they are only an indifferent predictor of performance in a profession after formal schooling.

In an interesting but controversial study conducted during the 1960’s by Biologist Marion Diamond, of the University of California at Berkeley, two sets of rats were raised in different environments; One set had toys to play with, playmates to romp with and a roomy box that was kept clean and fresh. The second set was put in solitary confinement; all alone in a much smaller cage with no toys to enjoy. After several weeks, Diamond measured the size of each rat’s cerebral cortex, the brain area which is responsible for higher nerve functions. The rats in the sociable, clean and stimulating environment grew brains bigger than the rats with the impoverished surroundings. “Does the enriched environment increase the dimensions of the brain, and does the impoverished environment decrease the dimensions of the brain?”, asked Diamond. “The answer, very clearly, is YES.” Similar results were replicated with cats, monkeys and later with humans. So a stimulating, enriched learning environment is crucial to mental development. If we likewise incorporate the varying student intelligences in our teaching activities, our success as well as our students success, will be markedly improved. That each of us possess all the intelligences, that they can each be developed further, that these multiple intelligences work together in a complex manner, and that there are, in fact, many different ways to be “intelligent” are inclusive in a study by Armstrong. Here briefly, in retrospect, are eight of the major intelligences of Howard Gardener’s theory and their relative traits:

Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence:

The capacity to use words effectively, either orally or in writing. It is highly developed in story-tellers, orators, politicians, poets, playwrights, editors, language teachers and journalists. Students with a high degree of this intelligence think in words; learn by listening, reading, and verbalizing. They enjoy writing, like books, records, and tapes, and have a good memory for verse, lyrics, or trivia. Getting into discussions, telling jokes and debating are also characteristics of this intelligence. Maya Angelou is strong in this intelligence.

Visual-Spatial Intelligence:

The ability to perceive the world accurately and to perform transformations upon one’s perceptions. This is highly developed in guides, interior designers, architects, artists, fashion designers and inventors. Students with a high degree of spatial intelligence think in images and pictures, like mazes and jigsaw puzzles. They like to draw and design things, and enjoy films, slides, videos, diagrams, maps, charts. The daydreamers and those who may have strong opinions about such things as colors that go together, textures that are appropriate and pleasing and decorating are included in this intelligence. Pablo Picasso was strong in this intelligence.

Musical – Rhythmic Intelligence: The capacity to perceive, discriminate, transform, and express musical forms is most highly developed in musical performers, music aficionados, and music critics. Students with a high degree of musical intelligence learn through rhythm and melody, play a musical instrument, or May need music to study. They notice nonverbal sounds in the environment: the chirp of a cricket, rain on the roof, varying traffic patterns, and usually learn things more easily if sung, tapped out, or whistled. These people love music and rhythmic patterns and can often reproduce a melody or rhythmic pattern after hearing it only once. Various sounds, tones, and rhythms may have a visible effect on them (that is, you can see a change in facial expressions, body movement, or emotional responses). They enjoy singing and listening to a wide variety of music, and are often quite skilled at mimicking sounds, language accents, and others’ speech patterns, and recognizing different musical instruments in a composition. Paul McCartney is strong in this intelligence.

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence:

The capacity to use numbers effectively and to reason well. This intelligence is highly developed in mathematicians, tax accountants, statisticians, scientists, computer programmers, and logicians. Students with a high degree of this intelligence often reason things out logically and clearly; look for abstract patterns and relationships; frequently like brain teasers, logical puzzles, and strategy games. They also like to use computers and to classify and categorize. These people think conceptually and abstractly and are able to see patterns and relationships that others often miss. They like to experiment, solve puzzles and other problems, ask cosmic questions and think. They love the challenge of complex problems to solve and always have a logical rationale or argument for what they are doing or thinking. Albert Einstein was strong in this intelligence.

Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence: Consists of expertise in using one’s whole body to express ideas and feelings, and facility in using ones hands to produce or transform things. A highly developed intelligence in actors, mimes, athletes, dancers, sculptors, mechanics, and surgeons. Students with a high degree of bodily-kinesthetic intelligence process knowledge through bodily sensations; move, twitch, tap, or fidget while sitting in a chair or at a desk and learn by touching, manipulating, and moving. They typically like role playing and creative movement and generally like physical games of all kinds and demonstrating how to do something. They communicate well through body language and other physical gestures. They can often perform a task only after seeing someone else do it. They find it difficult to sit still for a long time and are easily bored if they are not actively involved in what is going on around them. Michael Jordan is strong in this intelligence.

Interpersonal Intelligence:

The ability to perceive and make distinctions in the moods, intentions, motivations, and feelings of other people. This Intelligence can include sensitivity to facial expressions, voice, and gestures, as well as the ability to respond effectively to such cues. Students with a high degree of interpersonal intelligence understand and care about people; like to socialize; learn more easily by relating and cooperating and are good at teaching other students. These people learn through person-to-person interaction. They generally have lots of friends; show a great deal of empathy for other people and understanding of different points of view. They are skilled at drawing others out in a discussion, conflict resolution and mediation when people are in radical

opposition to each other. Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi were strong in this intelligence.

Intra-personal Intelligence:

Self-knowledge and the ability to act adaptively on the basis of that knowledge define this group. This is an intelligence which can include having an accurate picture of one’s strengths and limitations, awareness of one’s moods and motivations, and the capacity for self-discipline. Students with a high degree of this intelligence seem to be self-motivating; need their own quiet space; may march to the beat of a different drummer and tend to learn more easily with independent study, self-paced instruction, individualized projects and games.

These people like to work alone and sometimes shy away from others. They are self-reflective and self-aware and thus tend to be in tune with their inner feelings, values, beliefs, and thinking processes. They are frequently bearers of creative wisdom and insight, are highly intuitive, and are inwardly motivated rather than needing external rewards to keep them going. They are often strong-willed, self-confident, and definite, well-thought-out opinions on almost any issue (although they are sometimes off-the-wall). Other people will often come to them for advice and counsel, but others will sometimes view them as distant or weird. Emily Dickinson and Stephen King are examples of this intelligence.

Naturalist Intelligence:

Environmental knowledge and the ability to identify and categorize plants, animals and nature on the basis of that knowledge. The Naturalist Intelligence can include having an accurate picture of the ambient environment, awareness of the interrelationship of natural elements, and the capacity for self-analysis of these elements. It is found most highly developed in archeologists, animal handlers, animal trainers, veterinarians, biologists, racehorse jockeys, zoologists, environmentalists, wilderness guides and naturalists. Students who have a high degree of the naturalist intelligence seem to be nature-oriented, seek to be outdoors or in the elements and learn more easily with nature-related study and environmental projects and activities. They like to collect items from nature, study them, and group them. They tend to be aware of subtleties in appearance, texture, and sounds that those weaker in this intelligence may not grasp. Charles Darwin, Jacques Cousteau, and John James Audubon were strong in this intelligence.

One of the great promises of Multiple Intelligences theory in education is that it will help us to find individual pathways into and out of our students’ minds. Recent advances in educational psychology and research in applied MI theory offer educators a real possibility of developing the potential of all students. Both educators and students should derive from Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence theory that all people are different and learn differently, and that we should respect, value, and nurture that diversity.

Reference Websites:

Reference website for multiple intelligences links and activities:

[http://surfaquarium.com/im.htm]

Exploring Multiple Intelligences: New Dimensions of Learning

[http://www.multi-intell.com/]

Multiple Intelligences Resources

http://www.theatreinmotion.com/resources.htm

Basic MI Theory

http://edweb.gsn.org/edref.mi.th.html

Multiple Intelligence Theory: Principles

http://www.harding.edu/~cbr/midemo/prin.html

Multiple Intelligences: Theory and Practice in the K-12 Class

[http://www.indiana.edu/~eric_rec/ieo/bibs/multiple.html]

Task Card Overview/Multiple Intelligences

[http://www.metronet.com/~bhorizon/teach.htm]

Association for the Promotion and Advancement of Science Education activities website – http://discoverlearning.com/forensic/docs/index.html

Naturalist Intelligence – Sea World / Busch Gardens website for students

http://www.seaworld.org/animal_bytes/animal_bytes.html

Are You an Assertive Communicator?

the lonely tree

Having good personal communication skills is important because it will help you a lot in your life and career. By being a good communicator, you will be able to get your points across to other people in a mutually beneficial way. But how can we be a good communicator? What should we do to communicate better with others?

One thing I believe you should do is being an assertive communicator. By being an assertive communicator, you build mutual understanding with your partner. You do not try to manipulate him by being aggressive. Neither do you try to avoid conflicts by being passive. By being assertive, you are open about what you are thinking and feeling. But more importantly, being assertive means you try to understand first before asking to be understood. You try to see from the other person's point of view. Then, after understanding her point of view, you try to find a win-win solution that works for both of you.

Of course, being assertive is not easy. You must postpone speaking out what you want. You must take the time to listen first. But at the end, being assertive will give you the most long-term benefits. While being manipulative can only give you short-term benefits, being assertive can help you build trust with your partner that will be beneficial for years into the future.

To be an assertive communicator, first you should pay attention to how you communicate daily. Increase your awareness of your communication. Are you being manipulative through your words? Are you trying to avoid conflicts by hiding your true feeling? Are you trying to make your points without understanding the other party first? If you have these in your personal communication, then chance is you are not being assertive. But this awareness will help you change. After being aware of the situation, you can take the necessary actions to change it.

What you need to do is listening to what the other person is saying. Not just hearing what she says, but really listen to it. Try to understand her situation and why her points are important for her.

Next, try to find common ground between both of you. Since you already understand her position, it should be easy for you to find points of similarities between both of you. This common ground is your foundation to find a win-win solution that works. You can then propose the solution to her and see how she replies. Keep trying to find win-win solution and you will be a good communicator.

Technical Writing – What’s a Reading Level Anyway?

Qoʻqon UZ - Dakhmai-Shokhon 02

“The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.”

Walt Whitman, 1819-1892, American Poet

The client said, “We want this written at a 10th-grade reading level.” I said, “What’s a 10th-grade reading level and how is it measured?” The client said, “Hey, will you look at the time! I have to leave right now.”

Similar experiences on a number of occasions made me think that people use the phrase reading level without actually knowing what it means. They read it somewhere and think they sound smarter if they can toss it into the conversation. That sent me on a quest to find out what it means and how it’s measured. Here’s what I found out.

First, this is an important issue, and one that’s not well understood or carefully considered by many clients and the tech writers who work for them. For writers with a lot of experience who write for a wide range of audiences, it becomes instinctive. They know their audiences. They know how to write in a way that the readers can understand. They make adjustments for the specific audience they’re writing for. For writers new to the business or with experience writing for a limited audience, it can be a problem when they need to write for an audience they’re not familiar with.

Next, when people say something is written at a tenth-grade reading level the target audience’s ability to read that concerns us. Someone could read “Uber der Welt so hoch” and still not understand it. The goal is to write in a way that the target audience can comprehend. That involves using vocabulary and sentence structure that fits the reading comprehension level of the audience. , it’s a misnomer. What they really mean is that it’s written at a tenth grade comprehension level or what’s called a readability level. It’s not

Finally, the good news. Readability can be measured. The experts in the field of linguistics know what a tenth-grade readability level is and how it’s different from another level. It’s not an exact science, but it’s well enough developed that it can be used by writers to help them hit the mark with more accuracy. We won’t get into the really technical aspects of the subject, but we’ll provide enough background and illustrations that you’ll know how to find out more about it.

Readability Formulas

Readability formulas are used to determine if a document is written at the right comprehension level for the target audience. There are a number of readability formulas used by various linguistic groups. For now, we’re going to focus on the Gunning’s Fog Index because it’s one of the most famous and one any writer can use. The index was developed by Robert Gunning in 1952. The basic idea is that the bigger the words and the more complex the sentences, the more difficult it is to understand the document. Small words and short sentences are still the easiest to understand.

For convenience, the Fox Index levels equates to the number of years of formal education a reader needs to understand the material. By the way, this is based on the American system of twelve elementary and high school grades with the number of years of college education numbered thirteen and up. A high school education is a level 12. A master’s degree would be about a level 16.

To put this in perspective, a typical big-city newspaper is written at a level 7 or 8. The belief in most industries is that anything above a level 12 is too hard for most readers to understand. Remember, the Fox Index is not an absolute measure. It is, though, when used over a range of samples, a very good indicator. Here are some Fox Index levels for popular publications.

Atlantic Monthly = 12

Newsweek = 10

Reader’s Digest = 9

True Confessions = 7

Most comic books = 6

(This article = 11.6)

The Fog Index Applied

Here is an example of the same information written at two different readability levels as measured by the Fog Index.

Example One: Untold numbers of eternally optimistic individuals buy lottery tickets with odds in the multimillions against their chances of realizing success. They’re sustained by a level of ignorance that keeps them from recognizing that the likelihood that such an unrealistic eventuality would actually occur is of an order of magnitude beyond their capacity to comprehend. They cling to the notion that if an event is possible it certainly must happen regardless of how great the statistical chances are against it. Their cry is always, “Well, somebody’s got to win,” which is sufficient to block even the brightest glare of the cold light of reason.

The level is arrived at by counting the number of words, the number of sentences, and the number of three-syllable, or longer, words. Then a formula is applied that gives the readability index level. In this example, there are 103 words, 4 sentences, and 20 three-syllable words. Using the formula, the Fog Index level is 18. That means the reader should probably have a doctorate to ensure comprehension.

Example Two: A lot of people who never give up hope buy lottery tickets even though the odds against them ever winning are enormous. What keeps them buying tickets is that they aren’t able to understand that the odds against them are so great that they can’t really expect to win. They believe that because something is possible, then it must happen no matter what the odds against it are. Saying, “Well, somebody’s got to win,” is enough to keep them from seeing the reality of the situation.

Using the same method, the 86 words, 4 sentences, and 6 three-syllable words in this example give a Fog Index level of 11. That’s a high school junior.

Now You Try It

Pick a text sample from a source you’re familiar with. It helps if it’s a fairly big block of text. The larger the sample, the more accurate the index figure is. For example, I selected two blocks of text from the guide that came with my Nikon camera. Follow me through the process:

1. Count the number of words in the sample. If there are hyphenated words, count each part as one word.

(My count: 120) (Your count: )

2. Count the number of sentences in the sample.

(My count: 5) (Your count: )

3. Count the number of big words in the sample: 3 or more syllables.

(My count: 3) (Your count: )>

4. Calculate the average sentence length. To do this, divide the number of words by the number of sentences. For example, 120 divided by 5.

(My number: 24) (Your number: )

5. Calculate the percentage of big words. To do this, divide the number of big words by the total number of words. For example, 3 divided by 120 = .02 = 2%.

(My number: 2) (Your number: )

6. Add the average sentence length to the % of big words.

(My number: 26) (Your number: )

7. Multiply the result by 0.4.

Fog Index (My level: 10th grade) (Your level: )

Now try it on something you’ve written. From what you know about your audience, does your Fog Index match with the readers’ comprehension level? It’s a very important question, and this formula can help you answer it.

For more information on readability formulas, use any search engine to find sites related to readability formulas, Passive Index, Flesch-Kincaid Index, or Lexical Density Test.