Creative writing workshop, some notes

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This is the workshop leader, Tony Birch, writer and lecturer born in Melbourne, an environmental activist. Source: https://www.facebook.com/swietlicakpwtrojmiescie?fref=ts ((participants were asked for permission to be photographed and then to publish the pictures in the organizer facebook page)

This is me, the one turned back, discussing with another participant on  climate change. It was part of an exercise consisting of playing different roles in order to convince others about our ideas

This is me, the one turned back, vividly discussing with another participant on climate change. It was part of an exercise consisting of playing different roles in order to convince others about our ideas. Concretely, She was supposed to raise my awareness on climate change while I was playing a “denier role”. Source: https://www.facebook.com/swietlicakpwtrojmiescie?fref=ts ((participants were asked for permission to be photographed and then to publish the pictures in the organizer facebook page)

Past Monday 6th of October I attended a creative writing workshop in Gdansk, the city I live in. Although the workshop’s first aim was creative writing, the exposition and discussion was quiet focus on environmental issues, and the way we can write and persuade others about current environmental problems. It seemed to me more focused on literature-like writing, but some things are also applicable to research. Also, the truth is that in a hardly three hours workshop one can’t go a long way. However, I would like to point out a few things.

First, always bear in mind who is your audience. It may be your friends, family, the ones that you want them to be proud of you. Although this is unlikely when talking about research writing. Or a more general audience. It’s important to have this clear even before starting to write.

Secondly, we live in a global world and people sometimes tend to write on things that happen in a rather undefined place. However, people matter what happen here and now. Although this two concepts “here” and “now” may be seen as too ambiguous, it’s important to reflect on them. They probably depend on your audience. It may be your city, your country or just your neighbour, but never think about the place you live as banal. It reminds me to one Pierre Bourdieu’s sentence when doing a research on his own hometown, he named this perspective as the “banal exotic”. Another thing is, and this is my own opinion,

Last but not least, how to attract your audience?, the first paragraph is often crucial. Here, Tony spoke of the importance of addressing issues related to the emotions of our audience as a way to attract attention (Again, not applicable to research, to my way of thinking) This can become complicated when our audience is very diverse. What for some may be captivating, for others it’s simply irrelevant. At certain moment (when discussing on how to raise awareness on climate change) I suggested that we should try to make our audience see that their everyday life is somehow connected with environmental problems that are happening very far. Also (and I just come up with this idea) the more diverse is your audience, let’s say worldwide, the more you need to appeal those aspects and values that define human beings, i.e. those things that we all as humans share and have one unmistakable meaning as love, friendship, nostalgia, etc.

Other interesting things that raised throughout the workshop were the need of having a solid structure of what we want to write as well as choosing the right moment on the day to do it. Maybe the very morning, during the night etc. Though here I’d like to warn that, according to my experience, the structure may quite change again and over again during the writing process. One inspiring writing technique that Tony suggested (rather non-research related): ask yourself: can I tell my whole life in three minutes?. The results of this exercise could give way to a great, touching and creative piece of writing. Seek and patiently observe, for example, a picture of your childhood that you think best defines who you are.

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Creative writing workshop

CRITICAL EYE

Creative writing workshop with Tony Birch, writer and lecturer born in Melbourne, an environmental activist.

Monday, 6th October 2014, 5.30 pm – 8.30 pm
Świetlica Krytyki Politycznej w Trójmieście
ul. Nowe Ogrody 35, IIp., Gdańsk

The workshop will be held in English.

Apply at: trójmiasto@poczta.krytykapolityczna.pl

The workshop is a part of Weather Stations project (www.globalweatherstations.com) financially supported by EU Cultura Programme.

* Kim jest Tony Birch?
Tony Birch is the author of the acclaimed novel, Blood (UQP 2011), shortlisted for this year’s Miles Franklin Award. He has also published widely as a short fiction writer.

Tony Birch was born in inner-city Melbourne to a large family of Aboriginal, West India and Irish descent. His challenging upbringing inspires much of his work. His stories have appeared in several ‘Best of …’ and anthologies, both within Australia and internationally. His previous books are Shadowboxing (Scribe 2006) and Father’s Day (Hunter 2009). Tony teaches in the Creative Writing program at Melbourne University, and also runs community writing event as part of the his outreach work. Both Shadowboxing and Father’s Day are taught in the Victorian Secondary School system and he regularly visits schools to both discuss his own work and run writing workshops.

The use of the first/third person. Qualitative evaluation of research proposal. part 3

After having examined qualitatively the major research proposals weakness in terms of connection with theory and writing style, this post aims to highlight the importance of the person used in academic writing:

Bear in mind that the writing style and the person to be used may vary from one context to another and from one institution to another. However, as far as academic writing is concerned, third person must be used generally. Additionally, the most recognized writing style for social and behavioral sciences, the one provided by the American Psychological Association, also recommends, with some exceptions, the use of third person.

Your research proposals, as well as the research project itself, fall within what is considered academic writing.

The use of first and third person

Although there are exceptions, (for example, if you are discussing a field trip that you personally took in order to conduct research or interviews that you carried out), normally academic writing does not make use of the first person. This means you would not use ‘I’ in your essays. Therefore, instead of writing ‘I will argue’, you might write ‘this research will argue’. The first reason for this is that academic writing must be formal and impersonal.
Consider the difference between these two sentences:

1. ‘In this proposal, I will discuss the reasons why talent estrategy is important to the improvement of Chinese economy

2. “Talent strategy is important to the improvement of Chinesses economy”

Not only is the second sentence more formal because it does not make use of the personal ‘I’, but it is also more direct and thus sounds clearer, more concise, and more academic. Instead of stating that a point will be made, as in the first sentence, the second sentence simply makes the point directly.

The second reason why the use of the first person is discouraged is that it is often redundant (unnecessary). Consider the difference between these two sentences:

1. “I believe that talent strategy is relevant to the improvement of Chinese economy”

2. Talent strategy is relevant to the improvement of Chinese economy”

It is unnecessary to state ‘I believe’. The reader knows that the statement is what the author believes, because the author is writing it in their proposal. Further, which sentence sounds more convincing? The second sentence sounds more convincing because it is direct and straight to the point.

Finally, the use of third person grants objectivity and avoid subjective statements. Academic writing is not about your opinions and feelings. It should be rooted in facts and not fictitious claims.

Writing style. Qualitative evaluation of research proposals. Part 2

Following the index provided in the previous post for a qualitative evaluation of the research proposals performed by the students of the subject Research methods from Faculty of Management and EconomicsGdansk University of Technology (Poland); the current post will focus the point related to writing style.

Four requirements of a good writing emerge from the difference between the two cases you can see below. First of all read carefully both cases and try to find the differences.

CASE 1

Luxury international is defined as “a beyond people’s survival and development needs of the range, with unique, rare, exotic features such as consumer goods, also known as non-necessities. Define in economics. Luxury is the ratio between the highest value and quality products. From another point of view, the luxury is an intangible value and tangible value of the ratio between the highest products. Consumption of luxury goods is an advance consumer behavior. The luxury the word itself has no derogatory. China is one of the largest marketing in the global luxury goods consumption. In 2010, Chinese consumers bought $ 10.7 billion of luxury goods, accounting for a quarter of the global consumer products market.

CASE 2

China is one of the largest marketing in the global luxury goods consumption. In 2010, Chinese consumers bought $ 10.7 billion of luxury goods, accounting for a quarter of the global consumer products market.

For this reason, the study of luxury goods demands has become more popular in China. Some authors suggest that the demand is higher because the GDP has grown considerably over last years. On the contrary, other authors suggest that what has really increased is the social inequality. In other words, the rich people are more and more rich and the poor ones more and more poor.

First of all, what is exactly a luxury good? It may be defined in three different ways:

Luxury product may be defined in three different ways:

1. In terms of personal need: luxury goods are also known as non-necessities and people demand for being unique, exotic or having a especial characteristic.

2. In economic terms: is a good for which demand increases more than proportionally as income rises, and is a contrast to a “necessity good“. Luxury goods are often synonymous with superior goods.

2. In socioeconomic terms: luxury goods have a superior status due to their design, quality, durability or performance that is remarkably superior to the comparable substitutes.

_____________________________

What makes the second case more understandable is:

  1. Shorter sentences. One of the most common handicaps of an undergraduate research proposal is the length of the sentences. Whenever you use a very long sentences, composed by two, three or four sentences connected with no dot (.) or comma (,) but using such links as “which”, “that”, “therefore”, the complexity may make the sentence non understandable. On the contrary, if you construct several sentences, with a basic structure: subject (the research) + verb (aims) + Object (Luxury goods consumers behavior´s study) and supporting yourself with dots and commas the reader will be very grateful.
  2. Shorter paragraphs. Related with the previous one, a too long paragraph may turn out to make too complex the content. You must administrate the number of paragraphs in a way that each one provides a different argument.
  3. Using of connectors. Despite every paragraph must have their own argument, the truth is that all of them must be somehow connected. To do so we can also support our writing by mean connectors such as “for this reason”, “apart from”, “assuming this idea”, “first of all”, “secondly”, “finally”, etc. I will make the writing more understandable and easy for the reader.
  4. Using of list. Whenever you are enumerating a number of items, provide a list of them separately. It will give your writing more “oxygen” and let the reader visualize clearer the main points.
  5. Removal of too complex vocabulary. Try to avoid too complex words. Many people, especially undergraduate, tend to think that using very sophisticated words is a synonymous of major understanding. Far from reality, if you overuse this kind of words you will just make your writing pedantic and ununderstandable.
  6. Use of further explanations. But let´s be honest, sometimes we cannot avoid the use of complex words, simply because we really need them to explain what we want to explain. In this case, do not hesitate to use further explanations, i.e. explaining the same with different words. You construct a subsequent sentence starting by “in other words”, “in other terms”.