Visualize Your Characters!

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Harry Potter and friends


We are all familiar with the actors. Here is some great Harry Potter art, as reported by Ellie Hall:

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To effectively write about your characters you should be able to clearly visualize them.

Today’s Assignment:

1. Describe one of your characters.

2. Sketch a picture of this character.


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Check out more great programs and writing resources at:

and at:

End of the Year Creative Writing Assessment Rubric —

Assessing Creative Writing is different than grading a math paper. Often there is no right or wrong answer. While grammar and punctuation can be graded, the evaluation of content and style is often subjective.


An author’s self-assessment may be the most useful tool of all.


Here is a self-assessment rubric:

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————————————————————————————(New Paltz)


Just as a character arc should change throughout your story, an author’s writing skills should evolve and improve over time.

This transformation process reminds me of The Ugly Duckling.

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Listen to the music:

  • “The Carnival of the Animals: The Swan” played by Joshua Bell


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The concept of beauty equals goodness is one that can be included in a variety of stories.

Today’s Assignment:

1. Do your self-assessment page as it relates to your final creative writing piece.

2. Read Flyaway by Lucy Christopher.


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Second Person — All Purpose Instructions


Second person is generally used in instructions. In many instances the subject “you” is understood rather than written.

(This is called the “understood you.”)


For example, consider these humorous “All Purpose Instructions” which are in the Second Person form:


All-Purpose Instructions:
“Release the handle by pulling down the strap and tightening the fasteners. Press the button and remove the safety cap, then turn the knob to unleash the spring and wind the excess slack onto the spool. Loosen the screws on the plate lid and insert the tabs into the slots. Rotate the control switch a quarter of a turn before lowering the two levers. Then drop the main crank into a neutral position. Be careful not to unscrew the housing before engaging the catch. Plug in and you’re set to go. If smoke fills the room, read the troubleshooting guide at the rear of this manual.”

——————————————————————(George Carlin)

Here is a chart showing first person, second person, and third person pronouns.

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Second person is not used for research papers.

“Writing in second person is discouraged for use in collegiate work for two reasons:
1. The essayist should not “talk” directly to the reader.
2. “You” is often unidentified.
Basic rules for writing in first and third person:
Write only in first person for personal narrative assignments.
(Narrative assignments center around writing about yourself or a personal experience).
Write in third person for all other work, such as formal essays and research papers.” (Pillsbury)
See more at:
Fiction does not frequently use the second person format either; however, there is one novel which comes to mind:
Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 8.43.00 AM (Scorper by Rob Magnuson Smith)
Scorper begins like this: (click on text to enlarge)
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Do you see how Smith uses the second person format?
You can buy a copy of this book here:
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Look at this helpful slideshow:
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Now you understand.
Today’s Assignment:
1. Write one sentence in first person, one sentence in second person, and one in third person.
2. Complete this worksheet.
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McGuffey — Not MacGuffin — Classic Summer Reading

Last week we talked about the MacGuffin, which is an author’s tool — a device which can assist plot development.


This week I want to remind you of the classic McGuffey’s Readers.

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This Reader can be found at:


It also includes this pretty penmanship page:

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Of course, all sorts of books are available to read FREE at Project Gutenberg.


They also have music resources:


Today’s Assignment:

1. Look at Project Gutenberg.

2. Perhaps you will see something to add to your summer reading list.

Manufacturer’s Operating Instructions — for Us

Just as there are rules for writing . . . there are rules for living.

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Rob Pomeroy tells more here:


Likewise, the teachings of Buddha offer us guidance:

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Today’s Assignment: Rest.

The Works Cited Page

You are almost finished with your paper!

It’s time to tidy up your Works Cited page.

If you are using MLA format . . .  your Works Cited page will look like this:

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In the example above:

–notice how the title of the page is Works Cited (no other words will do)

–entries are alphabetized

–the hanging indent is used . . . which means that the first line is at the left margin and the following lines for that entry are indented.


Here is another example:

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(Invitation template)


Remember that different types of resources (books, anthologies, websites, etc.) have slightly different formats.


A useful tool is Noodletools.
There is a free Express version which is very helpful, but if you use their subscription version, you can automatically transfer your data to a properly formatted Works Cited page.

Here is a link to the free version of Noodletools:


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I highly recommend it!


Today’s Assignment:

1. Complete your final bibliography page (often called a Works Cited Page).

2. Be sure to double-check the instructions given by your professor.

3. Smile — you’re almost finished!

Summer Reading Lists!

Summer is almost here!

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(photo credit: Colin / flickr)


That means it’s time to start thinking about summer reading lists.

Here is a reading list for one of my favorite groups (age: 8-10): (Click on it to make it larger.)

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See more lists at:

Today’s Assignment:

1. Start making your summer reading list.

2. Include blank spaces so you can add more books as needed.

3. Try one of these list formats or create one of your own.

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A MacGuffin As A Writer’s Tool


A MacGuffin is a plot device that doesn’t really ever develop into something of significance. It is a useful tool used by authors to develop the plot in other ways.

The falcon– in the film: The Maltese Falcon with Humphrey Bogart, is a MacGuffin.

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(The Daily Mail)

“In fiction, a MacGuffin (sometimes McGuffin or maguffin) is a plot device in the form of some goal, desired object, or other motivator that the protagonist pursues, often with little or no narrative explanation. The specific nature of a MacGuffin is typically unimportant to the overall plot. The most common type of MacGuffin is an object, place, or person; other, more abstract types include money, victory, glory, survival, power, love, or some unexplained driving force.

The MacGuffin technique is common in films, especially thrillers. Usually the MacGuffin is the central focus of the film in the first act and thereafter declines in importance. It may re-appear at the climax of the story, but sometimes is actually forgotten by the end of the story.” (wiki)


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The Film Noir classic The Maltese Falcon follows private eye Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) as he becomes embroiled in an increasingly intricate plot revolving around a jewel-encrusted, black statuette that had been given in 1539 by the Knights of Malta to Spanish king Charles V. Spade would later refer to the eponymous statuette as “the stuff that dreams are made of.” John Huston made his directing debut on this Dashiell Hammett adaptation, which influenced countless detective tales to follow.

For more examples of MacGuffin’s in movies, go to this link:

Today’s Assignment:

Add a MacGuffin to your story.

It’s Shelley! It’s Keats!

One of the most memorable quotations of poetry captured on film appears in Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn.

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(photo: filmsufi)


The poetry that Audrey Hepburn speaks near the beginning of the film is written by the play’s author:

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Later in the movie when Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn are in Joe’s room and Joe tells Ann that she will be sleeping on the couch, Audrey quotes another line of poetry which prompts a bit of debate about the author . . . Shelley or Keats?

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Joe is right: It is Shelley.

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Watch the clip here:

You can find the whole poem here:


Today’s Assignment:

1. Memorize a poem.

2. Recite it for an audience of one or more.

3. You may want to watch this charming movie.

The script can be found here: