Monday, July 29, 2013

Nobody Likes Mondays

Last trimester, Monday was my favourite day of the week because both the lecture and my tutorial for Writing Craft were that morning. Writing Craft has been replaced with Writing Spaces this trimester and while both of my classes are still on the Monday, Monday has stopped being my favourite day of the week. Why? I asked myself this too, but the answer is quite simple and I already knew it.

Writing Spaces is supposed to be about learning to write in the different 'spaces' or 'formats'. For example, the unit is covering how to write in script, creative non-fiction, poetry, prose, etc. We've had a different person take the lecture every week. The first guy was okay, but the lesson was boring and irrelevant because it was just introductory 'making sure everybody knows how to use the unit guide' stuff. I think he'd have the potential to be engaging if he'd actually taught us something for the subject. The person who ran the second lecture, last week, and who also runs my tutorial every week... is so boring that it's hard not to zone out, and she doesn't seem to know what she's doing: rather than teaching us about the elements of writing in the spaces that we're trying to learn, she spent both the lecture she hosted and the tutorials only talking about the writing craft elements within the readings. She's frustrating, and I could say much more, but I won't. Oh my she is dreadful.

So thanks to the first week being all about introductory/housekeeping things, and the second week being completely run by the Dreadful One, I didn't learn anything particularly new about script writing. Those were the designated weeks for that 'space'. Basically, dialogue is of utmost importance (the irony of the Dreadful One's every second word being "um"...), directions are important though not AS important, and characters needs to be established and identifiable with certain settings, mannerisms (especially in the way they speak), and their personalities and ways of acting and reacting (which also needs to be communicated mostly through dialogue and some stage-direction). Now I'm sitting here wondering if the Dreadful One even taught us that or if I just assumed she taught us that because it's what I already knew about script-writing. My favourite part was getting to read some of Scott Silver's Untitled Detroit Project, which is based off the life of popular rapper Eminem and was the original script for the movie 8 Mile. I went through a bit of an Eminem phase a few years ago.

When I'm Gone is my all-time favourite Eminem song. I tend to tear up listening to this... 

Stan ft. Dido is my current little Eminem obsession. 

Today, week 3, we moved on to creative non-fiction as a writing space. We had another different lecturer, who was engaging, informative and just generally awesome. Some friends and I were saying how much we enjoyed the lecture afterwards. Unfortunately, I still had the Dreadful One in my tutorial, which was unproductive as far as learning about creative non-fiction as a writing space went. Hopefully we'll learn a little more in next week's classes, or at least the lecture. I'll make a post about that when it's time. 

In other news: I am still unemployed. Seriously, somebody hire me, I'm a poor uni student, have mercy! On a lighter note, I'M A STEP-AUNTIE to an adorable and chubby little boy. My dad and his dad have already decked him up with St Kilda (AFL team) teddy bears and Metallica beanies (alternating with the Winnie the Pooh beanie his mother has supplied) and I swear that if the 7am phone call I got from my dad had been for any other reason than to inform me that the baby had finally arrived, he would have be in big trouble for waking me up so early on a weekend. And last of all, a happy 3rd anniversary for tomorrow (30th) to my boyfriend, Aaron. 

I'm sick, lacking sleep, and feeling that I've raged and rambled more than I'm comfortable with in a blog post, so I'll say goodnight here and be off to bed. 

How has everybody else's writing and education and writing education been coming along? Who's an Eminem fan? Any special little announcements to make? 

- Bonnee. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

'Grammarly' Review

Another apology for my absence from the blogosphere. I'll be catching up on all the blogs I usually follow over the next couple of days. I miss this place, but settling back into university has been intense.

About a month ago, I was offered a one-month premium membership for Grammarly, an online word-processor, in exchange for reviewing the product. I thought it would be a great opportunity to see what alternatives there are to proofreading and relying on Microsoft Word as I usually do.

Grammarly is a great online word-processor that can be used as a second set of eyes when proofreading. After copying and pasting the text or uploading the document into the programme, you can select the type of writing - general, business, academic, technical, creative or casual - and start the review process. The review process picks up on a wide range of spelling, grammar, punctuation and sentence structure issues and suggesting synonyms. As well as pointing out mistakes, it explains why the highlighted text could be incorrect, giving great examples to help the user understand. It then allows you, the author, to choose whether or not to correct it, assuming that there may be an exception to the rule. You can repeat the review process multiple times after making corrections until the document is as close to perfect that the product can make it. You can also use the Grammarly editor to check for plagiarism.

A Grammarly account has a dashboard similar to that of a Blogger or Goodreads account. The dashboard contains some statistical features such as how many documents you've checked, your average score based on how many mistakes are made per document and your score trends over time. The dashboard also categorises the types of mistakes you make - punctuation, verb form, confusing modifiers, pronoun use, etc - and shows how many of each type of mistake have been detected in the texts you've checked over. Perhaps the most useful feature on the dashboard is the 'Personal Writing Handbook', which is created by the programme and updated as it checks your work, detailing the mistakes you make most often and explaining why. It gives you the most relevant writing rules to help you, based on your Grammarly usage.

Grammarly can be used to check a range of documents for you, such as emails, blog posts, creative fiction and resumes. It's a great second set of eyes if you would like to create an account. It is known for catching more mistakes than other word-processors such as Microsoft Word.

Of course, I'll be reverting back to Microsoft Word once my one month premium account runs out, because I'm a poor, unemployed uni student. I can make Microsoft Word accept my Australian-English and Australian writing etiquette too, which is always helpful. I'd like to thank Grammarly for the opportunity they gave me to use and review their product. It's been a fun experience and I've really enjoyed it.

Has anybody else out there used Grammarly?

- Bonnee. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I Missed University So Much

I send out the biggest apology to everyone I usually follow for my absence. Last week was a rush to get myself organised for my return to university and then the past three days were spent settling back in. Guess who's just started their second trimester at Deakin?! This chick! Right here! I love being back on res, constantly socialising and learning things. My new timetable is pretty similar to the last trimester: one writing unit (Writing Spaces), one philosophy unit (World Religions), one journalism unit (Contemporary Journalism B), and one elective (Texts and Images). Still a measly nine contact hours, still only three days a week with classes. I've decided I need something to occupy myself in all that free time aside from just writing, because I'd also like a little bit of income, so the part-time job-hunt has begun and I've already had one rejection. Yay!

As well as getting to see all of my friends from the last trimester, both on res and in classes, the new timetable means that I'm meeting new people too, especially in my tutorials and at all of the welcome-back-to-res events. The thing I love about meeting new people, as a writer, is finding particular traits, characteristics and unique details that I could use in my own characters. For example, I was sitting with a group of friends at the campus bar after class yesterday and started talking to someone I'd met before, but never actually befriended. I was impressed to find out that he lives on a farm, where he grew up... not just any farm, but a rose farm. It's a place I'd never considered putting a character, a detail I'd never thought to give one, but I found the idea intriguing and potentially symbolic, although perhaps a little cliche once the symbolism starts coming into it.

I have one class to go to later this afternoon before I can say it's the weekend. I wonder if I'll meet anyone else I can make friends with and then quietly pull apart to find a potential character.

On another note, I received an email offering me a free one-month premium account on, which is an online word-processor. I've been asked to review the programme.

Has anybody else ever met someone and thought that a certain aspect of them could be used as a part of a character, in your own story? Does anybody here use Grammarly or another online word-processor? 

- Bonnee.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Aliens vs Zombies: 'The Host' and 'Warm Bodies'

I watched a couple of movies last night for the fun of it and noticed some similarities and other little things that I thought would make for a good blog post. Since reading the Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer, I've always meant to read her book The Host, which I've been told is much better. It's on my to-do list, but last night I found myself watching the newly released film adaption. There were several points where I sat there thinking, I'll bet this scene was SO much better in the book. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed it! Afterwards, I decided I wasn't sleepy enough for bed, so I watched Warm Bodies too.

I'll warn readers now that this post may contain spoilers.

Overall, there are no HUGE similarities, but aside from both being post-apocalyptic, I couldn't help thinking that there was an underlying theme that they shared: the acceptance and co-existence of species that are different and formerly considered enemies and the ability for the 'bad' species to change and become good.

In The Host, this was shown through the alien Soul Wanderer's (Wanda's) ability to empathise with her human host, Melanie Stryder, who was still trapped and alive inside her body. Wanda was able to see Melanie's memories and hear her voice inside her head, sometimes letting Melanie control their shared body. Melanie was able to convince Wanda to go to the other humans who are in hiding, where they are reunited with Melanie's brother and lover. While at first the majority of humans were not accepting of Melanie's body acting as Wanda's host and they did not believe that Melanie was still alive and trapped inside, some of the other humans realise that Wanda was empathetic of what her species was doing to them and begin to love Wanda and Melanie simultaneously. Eventually, Wanda agreed to free Melanie's body although she believed she would die. But the humans had learned to love Wanda too and found a way to preserve her in another human body that had already otherwise died, meaning that both Wanda and Melanie had their own bodies and Wanda could live with the humans. (Also, Jarad and Ian could both be with the women they loved without the awkwardness of them sharing the same body.)

In Warm Bodies, the theme is shown through the zombie R's ability to save a human girl, Julie, from the pack he was hunting with and try to keep her safe. Although he ate her boyfriend's brain, Julie eventually forgave him and even missed him when she returned to the other uninfected humans her father had built a wall to protect. When R showed up inside the walls, wanting to prove to her that he loved her, Julie was amazing to see that he and the other zombies were coming back to life because of whatever she'd triggered inside him. Julie's father took some convincing, but when he realised that R could bleed (zombies can't bleed), he told the other humans that there'd been a change in circumstances and welcomed R and the other zombies-coming-back-to-life into the city. They ended up working together to kill the skeletons who were trying to kill them all, which was apparently a good bonding activity.

I thought this similarity was cool. But that might just be me.

While I'm talking about Warm Bodies, I had the biggest WAIT A MINUTE moment when Julie realised that R was in the city. She was sitting on her balcony and he called up to her. And later they ended up in a pool together. R and Julie. Romeo and Juliet. Did anybody else notice this?! I thought it was clever! Ha ha :)

I've also just found out that Warm Bodies is a book, written by Isaac Marion. I must had this to my to-read list.

Who else has seen 'The Host' and 'Warm Bodies'? What is your opinion on the books, if you've read them? Do you prefer aliens or zombies? And would you rather a zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion of planet earth and your body? 

- Bonnee.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

1,000 Words a Day

For the past six days, I have challenged myself to write 1,000 words a day on my W.I.P WALLS, including writing 3,000 words in one day because I wasn't going to have computer access for two days after that and didn't want to fall behind. I feel really good about this challenge and so far I've been successful. I want to keep it up at least until I start classes again in eleven days.

As well as writing 6,000 words on my W.I.P, my creative juices have gotten very active and the plot-bunnies are started breeding like, well, plot-bunnies. After the 3,000 word streak, I went to bed early and then lay there for four hours making the plot better and I FINALLY HAVE AN ENDING! I mentioned in a post back in January that I'd started writing the manuscript because I'd planned every chapter I could and was spending too long trying to think of an ending that just wasn't coming to me and decided that starting to write might help me decide how to wrap things up. I am very pleased to say that it has.

So I'm very excited to keep writing WALLS and hope to have it finished by the end of my next semester of university in early October. Most of all, I want to have it finished in time to plan another story so that I can finally participate in NaNoWriMo this year.

How is everybody else going on their W.I.P, manuscript, revisions, etc? 

- Bonnee.

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