Hello! I will be posting extra ideas and information throughout the year here!
Creative Writing Packet
Character development questions
What does your protag/antag celebrate?
What does your protag/antag do to de-stress (hobbies)?
What job does your protag/antag have?
What is your protag/antag daily routine?
What is the theme song for your protag/antag?
What is the dream home of your protag/antag?
What is your protag/antag favorite color, animal, transportation, place?
How does your protag/antag feel about his/her family?
What is your protag/antag favorite outfit?
How do you feel about your protag/antag?
Setting development questions.
In what planet/country/region/town does the key scene take place?
In what year/season does the bulk of the story take place?
What is the weather like?
What is the culture of a main character like?
What is the political climate like of the main culture?
What is the predominant religion of the region?
What is the architecture like?
What items of particular value are in the immediate surroundings?
What fashion and interior design elements are prevalent in your setting?
How do you feel about your setting and what mood do you most want your reader to feel from your setting?
Other things to consider.
List your settings.
What theme song would you choose for each setting?
Make a list of ten adjectives for each setting.
Create a series of maps/illustrations for each setting.
List your characters.
What theme song would you choose for each character?
Make a list of ten adjectives for each character.
Make a character web to visually demonstrate how each character interacts, and how each character feels about another.
List images that serve as symbols in your piece.
Explain the meaning of each symbol.
The query letter has one purpose, and one purpose only: to get the agent or editor to read or request the manuscript. The query letter is so much of a sales piece that an author should be able to write it without having written a single word of the manuscript, although writers should always have a finished and polished manuscript before querying.
5 parts of every query letter
Specifics: genre/category, word count, title/subtitle
Hook: 100-200 words and NO more
Bio: optional for unpublished writers
Personalization: customize the letter for the recipient
Thank you & closing
Opening your query letter
Lead with the strongest selling point. Here are some solid ones:
Vouched for or referred by a client or author.
Met the agent/editor at a conference or event.
Heard the agent/editor speak at a conference, or read a post that indicates your work would be a good fit.
Begin with your hook.
Published writers may mention previous success.
Your book’s title, word count, and genre can be stated upfront.
Title. Until published, the book title is tentative, but that does not need to be pointed out.
Word count. 80,000 words is the industry standard for a debut novel. More than that could make it a difficult sale.
Genre. If you’re unsure of the selection’s genre, then draw a comparison between the book and another recent title.
Crafting the story hook
The hook does all of the work in convincing the agent/editor to request the manuscript. It should be made of these elements:
protagonist’s conflict and/or what is at stake for the protagonist
setting or time period
The hook should include: what the protagonist wants, why he or she wants it, and what keeps him or her from getting it. It is important to convey what the most compelling things about the main character are.
The “sizzle” is what sets the piece apart from others in the same genre. The author should show that his or her idea isn’t tired or overdone.
How to tell if your hook could be improved:
If the hook is longer than 200 words, shorten it.
If the hook reveals the resolution, then pull that out. Only the synopsis should do that.
If the hook mentions more than three characters, pull one or two out: only mention the protagonist(s), a romantic interest or sidekick, and the antagonist.
If the hook gets into minor plot points that don’t affect the choices the protagonist makes then leave them out.
If the hook talks about the story, rather than telling the story, refocus on what happens.
Novel queries don’t have to address market concerns
If the work is fiction, then do NOT elaborate on the audience or market for the novel. Nonfiction writers do have to talk about market concerns; however, fiction writers are selling the story.
Novelists might mention a website, but be aware that the agent/editor is going to do a Google search anyway. Having an online presence helps the agent/editor feel that the author might be a good marketer, but it doesn’t say anything about writing a great story. Of course, if the author has a fan following of over 100,000, that should definitely be mentioned!
Close your letter professionally
Do not state that you are simultaneously querying.
Do not mention that your manuscript is under consideration at another agency until or unless the agent requests to see your manuscript.
If you have a series in mind then certainly mention it, but very briefly.
Do not editorialize. This means to avoid directly commenting on the quality of your work. Your query should SHOW what a good writer you are.
Thank the agent sincerely, but in only a few words.
Do not try to push the idea of an in-person meeting. You may mention that you plan to hear him or her speak at an event or conference, but stay away from suggesting a meeting.
Appropriate query length
In its entirety, the query shouldn’t run more than 1 page, single spaced (200 to 400 words).
Do NOT mention
years of effort and dedication
how much family and friends love the piece
rejections or close accepts
the money invested in editors or editing
Name dropping or quotes of praise
If you don’t hear back follow up after the stated response time using the same method as the original query. If no response a second time, assume it’s a rejection. Do not phone or visit. Keep in mind that if an agent asks for an exclusive read, then no one else can read the manuscript during that time.
Writing Portfolio for Writers
Every writer should have a professional portfolio with electronic versions of the following things 'on hand' at all times.
Genre/category, word count, title/subtitle
Hook (100-200 words, protagonist, conflict, sizzle)
Between 100-200 words
Synopsis of Key Project
Between 400-500 words
Includes 'sizzle', protagonist, antagonist, conflict, climax, and resolution
Obvious flow /clarity
Several polished/self-inclusive scenes /poems with
Reader target group
Use of page break
Consistent formatting (NOTE and ADJUST per submission quidelines)
Dialogue (each- sound device for poems)
No plot holes
Use of figurative language/imagery
Backstory evident/setting evident
Fluid structure (paragraphs/sentences or lines/stanzas flow well)
Proper use of commas, semi-colons, and colons
Spare use of adverbs
Relevant/accurate use of adjectives
Agreement between subject/verb and noun/pronoun
Correct use of quotation marks, italics, and hyphen/dash
ZERO spelling errors
Creativity (NO cliches or over-blown diction)
A spreadsheet to keep up with all of the following: name of publisher, publication, contest, or agent; title of piece(s) submitted; date submitted; date of response; response notes from publication. Emails or copies of emails from literary contacts are a good idea to keep in a file as well.
Lastly, work to maintain some form of professional website and/or social media to which publishers can be steered. This is a MUST in today's world of publishing.
Cover Letter and Resume Writing for Students
Video lecture link: https://youtu.be/PsZVlSBglDA
The application process begins with the way you communicate to your prospective employer or admissions office. You might text, email, or social media message friends and family members using acronyms, slang, or abbreviations, but you should NEVER do that in an academic or professional setting in ANY document, including emails.
This process starts with an email address that is appropriate and legible. I don't plan on putting examples here, but I see plenty of email addresses every year from students and their parents which have words or numbers in the addresses that seem naive at best and extremely offensive at worst.
Next on the list is the title of the email and attachments. NEVER send emails without a title, don't make the title the actual message, keep the title short and relevant, use PROPER spelling and grammar, and write out 'please see attatchment' and actually attach a document when asked to provide ancillary information (or cover letters and resumes). Do NOT send a blank email with an attachment OR copy and paste entire documents into an email.
Lastly, the body of the email: write it like a business letter. Sure, you can drop the physical address part of the business letter format, but you should: have a salutation; use formal sentence structure; type in paragraph form; follow formal rules regarding spelling, grammar, and mechanics; be clear and concise; avoid slang, familiarity, or unprofessional banter; and close the letter cordially with your full name. NEVER try to be funny, flirty, or sarcastic. Those sorts of behaviors are not appropriate in an academic or professional environment, and don't translate well into email anyway. Everyone who has ever used social media writing platforms knows that certain tones simply don't translate well without the nonverbal cues to go with it.
The cover letter may not be 'required', but can still make the difference between getting into that program or getting that job. Even if the place to which you are applying has an online application format with no mention of a cover letter, you should still always attach one, or, if that is not an option, get the name of the contact and address off of the application to physically drop off or email a cover letter. Even if you STILL don't want to use a cover letter, the information that goes into cover letter are questions that will be asked on the application and/or during the process.
First, always use a professional, business letter format. This means you put your name, address, cell number, and email/website on the top left, leave a space and put in the basic address for the business/program and the name of the person in charge of the application process. Next, you put the date you are mailing or emailing the document. Then the salutation, letter body, and professional closing with your name and best contact # or email address.
Second, the salutation is very important. I know, it takes some digging sometimes to figure out who the physical person is who will get your application and process it, but you YOU MUST TAKE THAT TIME. The person in charge of how your application is handled is a PERSON, and likes to be remembered as such. "To whom it concerns" simply won't cut it.
Third, you need to write three paragraphs. The first one is your introduction. No, this does NOT mean to write: "I am...". This means your 'objective'. You may be personable and you may also use first person, but keep it clear and professional. Something like, "I am graduating with honors from my high school in June; however, I do not yet have any work experience related to the degree I will be starting at Old Dominion University in September. For this reason, I would appreciate the opportunity to intern with your organization over the summer."
The second paragraph runs down the reasons you should be hired as an employee or accepted for the program. This is pretty much everything else on your resume without all the dates. You should be specific and concise. Running down your experience chronologically makes the most since. "The first time I ever heard the word archaeology, I was only five years old. Since then I have been obsessed with learning about the profession. In 7th grade, I attended a Junior Backyard Dig and was awarded...."
The third paragraph shows off what you know about the company or the program. Afterall, the organization or corporation wants employees, academics, or interns who are a good fit. If you don't know anything about the organization, how are they supposed to know if you would be right for them? Yes, you may have to do some research and reading for this! "The Hampton Roads Archaelogical Firm is a staple in national archaeological advances. It's state of the art LIDAR system....Even interns from HRAF get in-field, hands-on experience that rivals..."
Last, don't forget to close out. Keep the cover letter to ONE PAGE. If you have a lot to say, cut it down and use minimum spacing, but no less than 10 point font. If you don't have much to say, keep trying and use more spacing up to a 14 point font. Close out with a 'Sincerely,' 'Yours Truly," or "I look forward to hearing back from you.' Type your name in a cursive font and tack on your preferred method of contact like a cell number or an email.
Simplicity and legibility are the key components to a resume. The goal is for an employer or administrator to take 'one glance' at your qualifications and decide if you are someone he or she wants to talk to about a position. This is why using some bold type, having spaces, and using a formula is important. If the person reviewing your resume can't figure out what experiences you have in a few seconds, chances are that he or she will move on to the next aplicant.
The easiest format is to have the following relevant key points on your resume. The sections should be in bold and the answers neatly bulletted in a regular font. The entire resume should NEVER be more than one page. At this stage, your one page should also include three professional references, although in real-world applications, references generally get their own page.
Your name and contact information, just like on the cover letter
Objective: the reason you are applying for this position/program. Use a complete sentence and be concise.
Education: going from the most recent, backwards, list all high schools you have attended WITH the dates and your GPA(s). Include the full name of the high schools, tech schools, or any other schools/academies.
Experience: starting from most recent and working backwards, list all jobs or academic positions held and/or speciality courses taken WITH the dates, full name of organization, supervisor's/teacher's name, and the description of duties/course work. If you haven't had any jobs or academic/tech courses, then you will have to get creative here. Maybe you babysat kids, walked dogs, or were a part of a club or sports team. You are tyring to show interest in a field here and/or that you are responsible.
Awards: include ONLY if applicable. If awards isn't your thing, that is fine, leave it off; however, if you have won ANY kind of award since 9th grade (club, sports, academic, social...) this is the time to flaunt it!
References: include ONLY professional ones. This should be a list of three people that may include past bosses, teachers, or coaches. Do NOT include family members or peers of any sort. Maybe you worked for a family member or peer: still not an appropriate reference. You should include full addresses, a phone number, and an email here (yes, for this assignment, you may make up fake addresses, but do NOT make up fake references).
In today's world of technology, you can't go wrong showing that you can use it! Adobe Sparks is by NO means, the only way to make a video, but it offers professional-level editing that most platforms do not offer for free and/or are much more complex to operate. In class, you will learn how to use this program: it is really simple! For anyone with any technological difficulty, an alternative platform can be suggested on a case-by-case basis.
Final assignment: You have already been prompted to create, edit, and save an electronic copy of a cover letter and a resume. Now create an Adobe Sparks video version using a combination of wording from your cover letter (the audio) and blurbs from your resume (words on each 'slide'). You should then write a professional email to me. Change the contact name of your program/business to me; write an email asking if I am hiring or accepting applicants for the position/program you have chosen; and attach your cover letter, resume, and video as three separate links to that email. Grades will be applied using the rubric posted in class.
Do NOT make stuff up! This is NOT a ficitonal assignment. This is a 'real-world' scenario in which you are sincerely looking for employment by a corporation or acceptance into a specific, academic program or university. If you lie to them, you will be caught. Remember, this should be your 'next step scenario' and not something down the road in five years, but something for which you are prepared now. You should have factual information, and make this something you can use.
Also, a word about social media: what you post never goes away. We all grow and change, we all say or do something we might regret, and/or something we do or say is seriously misinterpreted. Don't get caught in that trap. Clean up your social media accounts now, and hope someone else didn't take a frame shot of something that could block you from your dream program or job.
English 12 Scope & Sequence
Week 1: Professional and academic portfolio 12.1, 12.6, 12.7
Weeks 2-4: British Literature from 449-1485 and writing with a cultural and historic edge 12.1, 12.2, 12.4, 12.4. 12.7
Weeks 5-7: British Literature from 1485-1798 and writing an informational research paper 12.2, 12.3, 12.4, 12.5, 12.8
Weeks 9-10: Cause/effect versus problem/solution essay and a basic grammar review 12.2, 12.5, 12.6, 12.8
Week 11: Review of poetic elements 12.3, 12.4
Week 12: Review of dramatic elements 12.3, 12.4
Weeks 13-15: British Literature from 1798-1901and the art of creative writing 12.3, 12.4, 12.5, 12.7
Week 16: Persuasive speaking 12.1, 12.2, 12.6
Weeks 17-18: Properties of the novel (selection TBD) 12.3, 12.4
English 10 Scope and Sequence
Week 1: Short stories- fiction 10.3, 10.4
Weeks 2-3: Creative writing and the writing process 10.1, 10.3, 10.7
Weeks 4-6: Grammar overview 10.7
Week 7: Overview of literary and poetic elements 10.3, 10.5
Week 8: Nonfiction essays 10.2, 10.5
Weeks 9-10: Informational research paper 10.1, 10.2, 10.6, 10.7
Week 11: Figurative language and sound device in prose and poetry 10.1, 10.3, 10.4
Week 12: Literary analysis 10.3, 10.4, 10.5, 10.6
Week 13: Overview of dramatic writing 10.3, 10.4
Week 14: Realistic fiction 10.1, 10.2, 10.3, 10.4
Weeks 15-16: Characteristics of the novel 10.1, 10.3, 10.4
Weeks 17-18: Introduction to persuasion 10.1, 10.2, 10.6, 10.7