Creative Writing, Journalistic Writing, and Academic Writing

writing

I think that some personality traits that it would take to write creatively would be openness to take experiences from your own life or things that you read in newspapers or stories and to transform it into a story that is partly fiction but which may put a different perspective on an idea or issue. The writing skills you would need would be an ability to transform a setting or an event into writing that readers can read and experience that moment for themselves.

I think that to write journalistically, you need to be able to talk to people and know the right questions to ask. If you are unable to have successful and deep interviews then your writing will be flat. You also need to be able to dedicate time to research and to seeking out specific people or places to ask questions. If you are not in the right place at the right time you may miss a crucial opportunity to get information that is unavailable to other journalists. The writing skills you would need would be an ability to take research and interviews and meld them together into one complete narrative. This narrative should be attention-grabbing for readers and should illuminate a new perspective or issue that is relatively unexplored.

To write academically, your personality should be that you like to find deeper meanings below the surface. To write academically you need to analyze the work of others and pick out details and hidden meanings and illuminate their meanings. You can shed light on social and historical events through the analysis of the writings of the people who lived in and experiences those times.

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair combines creative writing and journalistic writing to shed light on the horrible conditions in meat processing plants in the 19th century. Although the characters and events were fictional, the experiences of real workers were much like those experienced by the characters in the book. The same type of writing is seen today in stories of men and women with eating disorders, women of Islam, and fast food workers. We read stories about these types of people that may or may not be true but they shed light on eating disorders, extremist religions, and working conditions.

After college I may need to write academically. I am not sure what career I want but I am sure it will not be journalism. I don’t like asking for interviews, doing interviews, or writing about interviews. I hate to bother people who are probably busy and disinterested in my need for interviews. Writing academically is more enjoyable for me because I assemble all the materials that I can find, spend time analyzing them and collecting the most pertinent information, and then I assemble that information into a piece that informs readers about what I discovered and what it may mean.

Issue Assignment

abuse

Domestic violence is an issue that affects people of all genders and at all economic and social levels in this country and around the world. I was exposed to abuse in my own home as a young adult and I am familiar with the struggles that victims and their families face in a domestic violence situation. I believe that writing and talking about this subject is important in order to help prevent domestic violence and to help those currently suffering from it. Writing a piece on this subject is important but it might be particularly difficult for two reasons: 1) Victims are difficult to reach either because they are embarrassed or ashamed to speak of their experiences or because they are killed by their abuser and are no longer around to tell their story. 2) Because trends in domestic violence are hard to measure due to the vast number of situations that go unreported or ignored.

If I were writing an opinion piece on the issue of domestic violence, I might focus on local issues rather than on a global or national trend. I would certainly need to provide information on national rates of domestic violence but sticking to a local concentration would be simpler. I could consult local newspapers to find stories about domestic violence and I could interview police officers or workers at local women’s shelters and crisis centers. I could also provide some information on my own experiences living in a home with domestic violence. I would not delve too deeply into my past but if I am writing my opinion, it would be helpful for readers to understand where I am coming from.

For a narrative piece on domestic violence, I could interview a survivor of domestic violence, either someone I know or a stranger, and I could tell their story. This type of piece might be more difficult because it would mean delving into the painful past of someone who has been through a traumatic time. Their story would be aired for anyone to read and this is often an obstacle when attempting to shed light on the issue of domestic violence. Stories of domestic violence generally have a happy beginning when the victim meets their abuser and begins a relationship with him/her. Then the conflict in the story comes during the abuse and escalation in their relationship. Abuse must end eventually and the climax of the story could come with an escape from an abuser of with the tragic death of the victim. This structure would be useful in a narrative piece.

To write a magazine piece about domestic violence, I would need to find statistics pertaining to rates of domestic violence on a national level. I would need to interview law enforcement officials, therapists and workers at shelters and crisis centers, and the victims of domestic violence themselves. I could discuss the role of celebrities such as Mariska Hargitay of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit or Patrick Stewart who have become advocates for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse. If I were writing a magazine article on this subject I would try to raise awareness of the issue and hopefully this would lead to some type of help for the victims themselves or those trying to help and support victims. The article would be a call to readers to look for signs of abuse and it would help them to learn how to handle an abusive situation in their own lives or in the lives of a friend or family member. A short anecdote of a victim escaping his/her abuser through the help of concerned friends or through help from a crisis center might end the story well and show readers that hope is possible in these situations.

Abusers whose deeds are ignored or unknown are able to continue abusing. Their violence can escalate to fatal conclusions for their victims and/or themselves. Domestic violence destroys families and can permanently traumatize victims. This issue is widespread and widely misunderstood. Everyone should know how to identify a domestic violence situation and should have access to information on ways to help stop the abuse. I don’t think that enough can be said on this issue.

Roald Dahl: Not Just an Author of Children’s Books

Roald Dahl is one of my favorite authors. I read his children’s stories when I was young and they have not lost their magic even as I grow older. Readers may be familiar with some of his stories: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Matilda, and James and the Giant Peach. Roald Dahl had an exciting life and he used his experiences to author dozens of books for children as well as a plethora of short-stories and novels.

While many only know him as a writer of children’s stories, he also wrote a great deal of material that is indisputably not appropriate for children. These adult stories contain all of Dahl’s humor and wit as well as some raunchy tales of sex and criminal activities.

As a used book fanatic, I make visits to several branches of Half-Price Book stores in the area. I recently purchased two books by Roald Dahl, Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life and My Uncle Oswald. I was happy, but astonished, to find these books, which I sought with no luck in the adult section, on a shelf in the children’s section of the store.

My Uncle Oswald is a hilarious and entertaining book about a young entrepreneur (Oswald), his beautiful assistant (Yasmin), and an inventor (Professor A.R. Woresley) who embark on a venture to make themselves exceedingly wealthy. Oswald, referred to as “the greatest fornicator of all time” on the very first page, discovers a Sudanese beetle containing a chemical which is the most powerful aphrodisiac known to man. Using the “blister beetle” powder, the professor’s new invention, which can cryogenically freeze sperm, and the beautiful assistant, they travel the world finding and seducing monarchs, scientists, writers, and artists so that they can steal their sperm, freeze it, and sell it to wealthy women who desire children with the genes of a genius or a king. This book is packed with innuendo and is certainly not a children’s story.

Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life is a collection of short stories. Roald Dahl wrote many short stories for children but this is not a collection of those. The very first story in the book is on the subject of breeding cattle. It is explained that if you point a cow towards the sun at the moment of mating, calves will be born female and thus better for a dairy farm. If your purpose is to breed bulls for slaughter, you should point the cow away from the sun. It is explained that sperm are divided into “female sperm” and “male sperm” and that the sun has a pull only on female sperm. Obviously, this is not supported by science but, like many of Dahl’s concepts, it is interesting and humorous. This story describes the bull mounting the cow: “With surprising agility the bull heaved his front part up on the cow’s back and I caught a glimpse of a long scarlet penis, as thin as a rapier and just as stiff, and then it was inside the cow and the cow staggered and the bull heaved and snorted and in thirty seconds it was all over” (Page 7). Other stories in this collection focus on illegal dog racing, gambling, and poaching.

Snozzberries, which readers of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or viewers of the 1971 movie, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, may remember, are mentioned in the scene where the children are licking the flavored wall paper. Snozzberries are also mentioned in My Uncle Oswald where we learn that they are a euphemism for the penis. Willie Wonka had the children lick wall paper that was decidedly not fruit flavored.

Adult readers, such as myself, enjoy these hilarious stories which contain all of Dahl’s witty and intriguing concepts as well as themes that are appealing to adults. Certainly, children who enjoy his stories may enjoy these adult pieces when they themselves become adults. Until then, though, I believe that they should be shelved away from Dahl’s stories of chocolate factories, magic children, and clever foxes.

Below is an article on Cracked.com that discusses the Snozzberry secret.
http://www.cracked.com/quick-fixes/the-filthiest-joke-ever-hidden-in-childrens-movie/