Monthly Archives: January 2017

Writing Lessons You Can Learn From Your Favorite TV Shows

Writing lessons form your favorite TV showIt’s one of the best ways to wind down during a study break or a lazy Sunday: tuning in to Hulu or Netflix for some of your favorite shows.

But do you ever stop to ask yourself why you love these shows so much? Something about them has captured your attention.

What if you could make your writing as captivating as those TV shows you love? What if you could write an essay, story, or lab report that held your reader’s attention to the very end?

Maybe that seems far-fetched, but some of the qualities that make these shows unforgettable can also be applied to your writing.

Here’s how.

1. “Blackish:” Show, don’t tell.

You probably love this show because of its humor, and the funny, well-developed characters. Another great thing about the show is the understated social message. Beneath the humor, there is an undercurrent of commentary on racism and LGBT issues. But no one is holding a billboard announcing: “Attention! This is an example of racist stereotyping!” Instead, we see this message played out through the actions and behavior of the characters.

Any essay or report that you write also has a message, or a “thesis.” In effective writing as in a good TV show, this message is revealed through details, examples, and quotes rather than simple and obvious statements.

2. “Game of Thrones:” Realism and accuracy always win.

Although “The Game of Thrones” belongs to the fantasy genre, the writers purposely limit elements of magic in favor of making the story an accurate reflection of the dark and brutal way of life in medieval times. The violence and the dark stories of intrigue make the viewer feel like they are experiencing the Middle Ages firsthand. This is part of what makes the show so appealing.

Your writing will also be more appealing to your readers if you strive for realism and accuracy. Take the extra time to research your topic thoroughly to bring your reader the true blood and guts of your subject.

3. “The Walking Dead:” Examining a problem from all sides.

What if an apocalyptic event occurred in which those who died became brain-eating zombies?

“The Walking Dead” has held steady success for eight seasons by thoroughly exploring this premise. It examines the differing motivations of the characters, how these characters react differently to the post-apocalyptic world, and how these actions influence the story.

Just like a zombie apocalypse, the problems that you explore in your writing have different sides and affect people in different ways. A stock market crash will be experienced differently by a CEO than by a factory worker, and their reactions will affect one another. A good essay or report will examine a problem from all possible angles.

4. “Criminal Minds:” Deliver the profile.

“Criminal Minds” is a great detective show, with a twist. Instead of profiling the crime itself, the B.A.U. team solves it by compiling a list of clues about the killer, which gives them the ability to determine who and where he is going to attack next.

An effective paper will present the reader with a “profile” in the introduction, outlining the list of clues that have led to a particular conclusion. Then you can develop your paper as if you were solving a crime.

5. “Breaking Bad:” How does change happen?

The character of Walter White is a case study on how events can change a character from good to evil. The well-intentioned chemistry teacher is transformed by the events of poverty and illness into a ruthless drug dealer.

Are you analyzing some kind of transformative change in your paper? What are the factors that led to that change? As you examine the transformation in depth, you may find that it is every bit as complicated and intriguing as the sea-change of Walt White.

So don’t worry about your next writing assignment! With a little imagination, you can make it into a hit!

10 Tips to Write a Personal Statement That Works

how to write a personal statementAre you dreading to write that personal statement for your application?

You may feel overwhelmed by the task, but in reality your personal statement is a great opportunity. This is your chance to show the admissions committee the real you, the aspects of yourself that are not revealed by grades or test scores. Here are some tips to help you make the most out of your personal statement.

1. Start with a personal inventory. Answer a set of questions about why you are attracted to this field or this school and how your past experiences have shaped you. Some good questions might be: What do you hope to get out of this career? How have your past jobs contributed to your growth? What challenges and hardships have you had to overcome?

2. Do some research ahead of time. What exactly is it about this school or this program that sets it apart in your mind? Uncover some specific information about the school to help you clarify this.

3. Respond specifically to the questions asked. Tailor your personal statement to the school to which you are applying. Try not to cut corners by using a one-size-fits-all personal statement for every school.

4. Include only items that are relevant. Focus on a clear thesis statement about why you are a great candidate for the program. Don’t litter your personal statement with an excess of trivial details. The reviewers don’t need to know your entire life story. Also try to avoid any statements that may be controversial (political or religious statements).

5. Be positive. This is a good place to address any obstacles that you have faced and how you overcame them. Whatever you mention as part of your story, spin it in a positive light and show that you have the resilience and determination to surmount challenges.

6. Write a strong opening paragraph. No pressure, but your first paragraph will make or break your personal statement. Put effort into making that opening paragraph a memorable attention-grabber, and you will have the reader’s attention throughout the rest of the essay.

7. Make your personal statement lively and interesting. The admissions committee will most likely be reading thousands of personal statements, so don’t bore them. Make your personal statement into a memorable story that showcases the real you.

8. Get specific. Any statement you make in your essay should be backed up with facts. Don’t just say that you are driven and goal-oriented. Cite specific accomplishments to prove that this is true.

9. Show your knowledge. The admissions committee is interested in what you have already learned about your chosen field of study. Reference classes you’ve taken or books that you’ve read. Use field-specific terminology to show you understand it.

10. Proofread not just once, but many times during the writing process. Ensure that your spelling, punctuation, and grammar are flawless. Professors care about the writing ability of their students, so don’t let a few silly errors obscure your potential.

It’s hard to stand out from so many other applicants, especially if you’re applying to a competitive field. Use this opportunity wisely, and you will certainly shine brighter than your competitors.

7 Reasons to Write Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

7-reasons-to-writeWriting an essay or a lab report can definitely seem like a chore! It’s hard work, and you can’t help thinking that there are other things you’d rather be doing.

But writing is not just some kind of meaningless ritual that professors compel you to do out of routine. There are many ways in which writing helps you long-term, in your classes, your career, and your personal life. Here’s how.

1. It enhances creativity and imagination. Writing gives you the opportunity to explore and use your imagination. Ultimately, that will improve your problem-solving abilities and help you feel more motivated. When you are able to use your imagination, learning can be more fun!

2. It allows you to demonstrate your learning. Sure, there are lots of different ways a student can show that he’s learned something, but let’s face it: most professors are going to require you to demonstrate what you’ve learned through a research paper, a lab report, or an essay prompt. If your writing skills are weak, that’s going to be an obstacle to showing your competence.

3. It helps you communicate your ideas clearly. The ability to write helps us express our feelings and ideas in all kinds of situations! Whether it’s a love letter to a significant other or a petition to affect the social change in your community, writing will help you clarify your thoughts and get them across clearly.

4. It is an essential skill for every academic area. No matter what your major is, your professors are going to expect you to be able to write. If you’re studying engineering or accounting, you may think that you won’t ever need to know how to write, but see the next point.

5. It is an important skill for almost every career. Are you planning to start your own business someday? Well, you’re going to need to write a business plan. Are you studying to become a nurse? Nurses need to write up notes on their patients every day. More importantly, research shows that employees with strong writing ability are statistically more likely to advance in their chosen careers, all the way up to the corporate level.

6. It helps you understand and remember information. What do you do when you’re going to the store and need to remember what you’re getting? You write it down, of course. That’s because writing aids memory. It’s the same with course material: taking the time to write about what you’re learning will help you remember and understand it better.

7. It helps you understand your own thoughts, feelings, and experiences. There’s a reason why blogging and journaling are such popular activities. The act of writing helps us make sense of the story of our lives, so that we can set effective goals for our future growth.

We know that you’d rather be socializing with friends or vegging out in front of the TV. Writing is not necessarily the most fun activity in the world. But it will bring you some lasting benefits. And who knows? Once you start writing every day, you may even find that you love it.