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Archive for the 'How Tos' Category

11 September

How to Create Imagery in Your Writing

The most ordinary word, when put into place, suddenly acquires brilliance. That is the brilliance with which your images must shine
- Robert Bresson

The power of written words when coupled with skillful and expressive thoughts is unquestionably mesmerising. It is imperative that writing creates a perspective and stirs opinions in the process. In essence, this relates to ‘imagery creation’ in your writing which connects the reader, treating fiction towards reality.

Writing is a kind of conscious dreaming. A writer crafts his words in a way that tangible expressions and pictorial phrases come alive. The writer creates a world, painting a vivid picture through words, in which the reader inadvertently finds herself pulled into. It helps in connecting the reader with the story and further making fiction more believable.

Ayn Rand, the famous author says, ‘With the exception of proper names, every word is an abstraction.’ Words can express the exact shade of meaning the writer wants. Creating that abstract world requires imagination. A work of fiction without imagery would be like a painting without colours. It depends, how colourful you want your painting to be.

Donna.A.Favors said, ‘A picture of many colors proclaims images of many thoughts.’ Few add-ons that can create an enriched imagery to your writing are:

1. Use of ‘colour noun’: To make your writing livelier and more specific, you can use colourful (descriptive) nouns than the generic ones.  A thesaurus helps in providing freshness and variety to the text.

2. Use of ‘figures of speech’: Adding similes, metaphors, analogies, personification, hyperboles, understatements etc. goes a long way in giving meaning to the description that the writer tries to portray. These figures of speech bring a semblance in the hypothetical scenarios that a writer creates. It takes the reader’s imagination to an entirely new level, where he/she compares and conjures up the situation, hence placing himself/herself right in the middle of the world created by the writer. Do not overuse them, rather use them judiciously and only where it is necessary. A good style is one that conveys the most with the greatest economy of words.

3. Sensory description:  Human beings are all about senses. The five senses that evoke emotions are sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste. The combined effect of these senses in your writing makes the reader feel as if he/she is standing alongside the character, watching the events transpire. A feeling of involvement gets created, which makes the fiction more realistic. It helps in creating a sense of realism like a 3D movie. Although we suggest using these senses to complement your writing, rather than construct it.

The most essential skill of a writer is to show, not tell. This is an old adage but holds true as it captivates the reader’s attention like nothing else can. Imagery in writing connects the reader to the fictitious world created by the writer. The idea is to create a visual and aural world through written words, which is as exciting for your readers’ imagination as it is real for you, the writer.

25 August

How to Write an E-learning Module

The best road map you can follow while writing an e-learning module is to go down the instructional design route. Instructional design methodologies are systematic and the results are worth the effort.

Stages involved in writing an e-learning module

Stage 1 - Analysis
The analysis phase is the first stage in the development of an e-learning module. Typically a training needs analysis is conducted to gather data on the goals for the course to achieve, the need for the course, the needs of the learners and the target audience profile. This data is used to formulate the terminal or high-level objectives of the module. The objectives essentially form the desired outcome of the module.

Stage 2 – Design
In this next phase, the design for the e-learning module is created. The data collected in the previous stage is used to develop the macro design of the e–learning module that includes the recommended instructional design solution and the assessment methodology. Post client approval of the high-level design, the micro-design for the module is prepared and the secondary objectives are written.

Stage 3 – Content gap analysis
At this stage, a content gap analysis is done to flag off and plug any missing content that may be required during production of the module. A prototype of the e–learning module is usually prepared at this point to give an idea of the look and feel of the course and its functionalities. A storyboard is prepared for the prototype based on the objectives.

Stage 4 – Production
Once your client approves the macro and micro designs as well as the prototype, the production for the e-learning module begins. Storyboards are developed according to the instructional design approach and the approved micro-design. Typically, each storyboard includes elements like the learning objectives, the ‘teach’ and test items. If the e-learning module contains a scored assessment, the test questions need to be tied to the terminal objectives. Job aids, a Help section and a Glossary are usually scripted once the development of all storyboards is complete.

This process is most effective when it allows you to revisit a particular stage in case you are not satisfied with the results at the end of that stage. This saves both time and effort in the long run as it allows you to fix mistakes before they snowball and have a greater impact on your budgets and timelines. For example, it is easier to make changes in the structure of the course at the design stage rather than trying to go back to the drawing board and make those changes at the time of storyboard development.

The learner is the focus
While all these details are important and cannot be ignored, do not allow your focus to shift away from the learner at any point. The acid test for your e-learning module is to be able to satisfy the learner. A badly developed e-learning module impacts the learner more than anyone else. So step into your learner’s shoes and see if he/she would think your course was worth the seat time and the effort spent. If the answer is in the affirmative, you know that your course is a winner!

19 August

How to Write for Children

As the beautiful saying goes, children are like water – bottle them up and they stagnate, let them run wild and they make a mess, but guide them and they bring life to everything they touch.

Undoubtedly, books are one of the guiding forces in a child’s life. Writing for children is an exhilarating experience, which needs a lot of imagination, insightfulness and an optimistic outlook.

Sid Fleischman said, “The books we enjoy as children stay with us forever — they have a special impact. Paragraph after paragraph and page after page, the author must deliver his or her best work.”

The writing can be informative, hilarious, mysterious or romantic. Just remember when you write for children, don’t write for children but write for the child in you.

Know your audience

4-6 year olds
Children in this age bracket would rather enjoy colourful stories with lots of illustrations –basically material that can call upon most if not all five senses.

6-8 year olds
These children are likely to prefer folk and fairy tales, short and sweet stories with happy endings and of course moral stories in which the message is built-in.

8-12 year olds
They can be taken as a more curious and inquisitive bundle. So, one can go for suspense, mystery, fantasy and horror. At this stage kids get distracted very easily. So, the story should be gripping and captivating.

Finally, the 13-16 year olds
Ah! The turbulent teens. This audience is the trickiest; with all the teenage turmoil they need something really worth their while. They can afford to read something with a serious plot along with romance, humour, sorrow, fantasy or science fiction.

Whatever the age group may be, just remember one thing: you have to get into their shoes. When one decides to write for children, the best way is to relive one’s own childhood experiences – emotional to hurtful to scary to beautiful.

In an interview, Sandra Markel, child author, advised aspiring authors saying, “Write!! But also periodically read out loud and listen with a reader’s ear. Always remember, writing began as a way to record what people were saying. It is still the same.” Many authors have claimed that their own children have helped them in writing for a child audience.

Let’s summarise all this into four basic points….

Selection of the theme: Once the theme is decided, one should portray real children as characters of the same age group. Children tend to relate to them faster, though smaller ones also love fictitious characters with human nature.

Language of the story: When we write for children, we should use more active verbs and most of it should be in dialogue form. The language should be comprehensible and uncomplicated. Though, inclusion of new words is a must, they should be in such a way that it makes sense within the context.

Pace of the story: Keep the pace of the story at medium levels as anything too fast or too slow could hamper a child’s imagination. The story build-up should facilitate the child’s involvement as if he/she were part of the story.

End of the story: The conclusion should tie all or any loose ends together.

A child’s mind is like clay, it can be moulded into any form. As Astrid Lindgren, a famous child author says “I don’t want to write for adults. I want to write for readers who can perform miracles. Only children can perform miracles when they read.”

As writers it’s the least we can do for the gems of the future. Isn’t it?

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