Archive for October, 2012

EdTech 2012

Am at Edtech, educational technology, this week, Wednesday through Friday.  I had iPad envy for awhile because many of the attendees have them.  Then I talked to someone who had one and realized I’d made the right choice with my netbook.  The iPad is more of an entertainment tool.  In the workshops I saw iPad people looking at pictures, email and other things.  Kinda reminded me of the kids at school who keep texting or sneak Internet peaks at cell phone sites, ringtones and the like.

Meanwhile, I wrote a short story and two outlines for Christmas stories that I hope I haven’t lost, and no, I didn’t write during the presentations so hurray me.  Besides I want to get all the good stuff from the conference to take back to the school.  Okay, maybe one workshop got a little boring so I snuck in a few sentences, but I sure wasn’t like the lady in front of me who was flipping through one website to another or the lady looking at family pictures.

I like going to EdTech.  It recharges my brain and gets me motivated again.  I’m going to team teach the tech ‘stuff’ to two schools with the librarian from the middle school since it’s right next door. We’ve already decided on a safari theme.  I already have the pith helmet and the hiking gear.  I think we can get two workshops out of this: overview of web 2.0 tools and projects teachers can use using audacity, photostory, movie maker, gimp, video cameras, still cameras, etc.

One of the sessions touched upon WordPress and gave me some ideas to improve my site.  Don’t hold your breath on the updates.  They’ll be coming along like molasses.


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And in the beginning … of your story. II

Last time I touched upon the first paragraphs of classics I didn’t quite enjoy in order to make a point that one doesn’t necessarily need a hook to begin a novel. So far I am proving myself wrong. Now I am going to address the beginnings of classics I truly did enjoy. Without further ado…

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. When it healed and Jem’s fears of never being able to play football were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about his injury. His left arm was somewhat shorter than his right; when he stood or walked, the back of his hand was at right angles to his body, his thumb parallel to his thigh. He couldn’t have cared less, so long as he could pass and punt.

This one starts out with an injury, about a big of a hook as you can get. How did Jem get injured? It’s an immediate pull into the story. The second paragraph pulls one deeper into the story. A wonderful classic and it has a hook.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

This sentence is a humdinger; things are going to happen and there’s going to be change, big change, and there are big events in store for the reader. If I could write a sentence like that, wow. This one begs one to read on.

My once-upon-a time hypothesis that hooks aren’t necessary sure got blown away on this bit of research. Thank goodness I’d decided to heed the call of ‘the hook’ long ago.

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On the Writer’s Digest website, Andrea Hurst gives a few pointers on what an agent is looking for in the story. She mentions the beginning of the story. One should engage the reader quickly. Have a hook is what I’ve been reading for years.

With that in mind I decided to look at some of the classics and see how their stories started. I did this mainly to prove to myself you don’t need to start with a bang although lately I’ve come around with starting with a hook instead of a gradual start, which, personally, I thought rather interesting, but that’s the viewpoint of the writer and not the reader.

Animal Farm by George Orwell (1st paragraph)

Mr. Jones, of the Manor Farm, had locked the hen-houses for the night, but was too drunk to remember to shut the popholes. With the ring of light from his lantern dancing from side to side, he lurched across the yard, kicked off his boots at the back door, drew himself a last glass of beer from the barrel in the scullery, and made his way up to bed, where Mrs. Jones was already snoring.

This isn’t a zinger of an opener, but the next paragraph lets the reader know we’ll be reading about the animals rather than Mr. Jones and then it goes on with descriptions of the animals and no wonder the book did little for me. If I hadn’t had to read it, I wouldn’t, but I’m glad I did.

If anything this proves that you do need hook to lure the reader in.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne

A throng of bearded men, in sad-colored garments and gray, steeple-crowned hats, intermixed with women, some wearing hoods, and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak and studded with iron spikes.

This story takes a while to get to the meat of the story. Again, I’ve chosen a story I never quite liked, probably because it doesn’t start out with a bang. I did however get intrigued about where they were – the wooden building. This tells me, I better get to something interesting or I’ll lose my audience.

So far my research tells me I just don’t understand these two classics like I should.

Next time in part II – Classics I love

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