Assignment #5: Advice for Writers

Three Misconceptions about Writing Assignments in College

Before I enrolled in this class, I held a lot of misconceptions about writing. I used to think it was hard and that only some people were meant to be writers. But to be a writer it takes practice, and most importantly writing is never perfect. There is always revision to be done, improvements to be made. In high school, since only my  teacher would see my writing, only she would give me feedback on the words I worked so hard to make into a paper, I used to only see writing as an assignment. Second, I believed quotes spoke for themselves. I thought, yes, this sums up what I want to say and my reader will understand it as is. Third, it was engraved in my mind that a paper only contained five paragraphs, no more no less. It is unfortunate that it took me three years to take a class that has made me a better writer, academically and socially.

1. Writing only takes place in class. “Do you have a blog? Do you contribute to a fan wiki about your favorite TV show, movie, or book series? Do you tweet? If you do, you may be thinking I don’t need no stinkin’ style manual.”

Actually, writing is everywhere. Whether you see now or not. It takes place in all of your imagesaccounts: email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, blog, and many more. As high school students we may not realize that our teachers are not the only ones seeing our writing capabilities, our family members and friends are as well. In “Writing in the Genres of the Web” they suggest that writing on the web is crucial and can either be a good thing or bad thing. For example, writing on the internet about what interests you can be effective and may attract many different audiences, they then will be intrigued by your writing. The bad thing is, if you use it for a place to vent about work, school, or friends and family or disclose personal information about others it can affect how your audience will think of you (your ethos). It will affect your employment or school acceptances. It can also follow you for the rest of your life. Your writing represents you, so be careful about what you post on the internet.

According to Performing Prose “The Rhetorical Tradition” by Chris Holcomb and Jimmie M. Killingsworth, there are three different types of writing styles: high, middle, and low. It is important to know these three different styles because it will help you relate to your audience. And the audience comes first. High style, only certain audiences that know the jargon being used will understand the written piece. Middle style is written in a form of entertainment. For example, the “Mustang vaults into relevance” article by Dan Neil only pertains to those who have an interest in cars, however his writing style is entertaining which allows for other types of audiences to read it. Low style can be a business letter. All audiences can read it and understand what is being read.

2. When I use quotes, the reader will automatically understand it, no need to explain it. “Write with readers in mind.”

According to Kyle D. Stedman in “Annoying Ways People Use Sources” IJackie-chan-meme found that two of his several points would have been helpful to know before entering college. First, Armadillo Roadkill, this is where writers will just drop in a quotation without introducing it first. As writers, we may feel that this is okay because the quote speaks for itself. Well, it doesn’t. The readers want to know where the source came from and whether it is credible or not. This is where ethos is most important. They should not feel surprised to see a quotation coming ahead, such as when one feels surprised to see a dead animal on the road. The second point is, Dating Spider-Man, where a writer starts or ends a paragraph with a quote. This is impolite to your readers. As a writer, it is important to present the quote with appropriate recognition and also respond to the quote, what does it mean to your paper, why was it included. Do not just say a quote without any commentary and disappear and come back with a different topic, just like spider man. It will confuse your reader.

3. We can only write five paragraphs in an essay. “Imitate writers you admire, not grammarians.”

Grammar are the rules, style is the choice. The rules are considered to be unbreakable, Essay_screenshotwhat has been taught in school. The choice of the writer is a convention, it changes over time. As a class we recently attended Dr. Mesle’s, a professor at UCLA, talk about writing. I felt that her talk did not pertain to only aspiring writers, but to people who use words to express themselves everyday as well. In order for others to hear our writing, we need to be interesting. How? Well, be interested yourself. Read other people’s writing, see what works, see what doesn’t. Then read your own writing, where do you find yourself getting bored and fix it. Sometimes expressing your thoughts in five paragraphs is not enough. This is a very structured format and does not leave any room for creativity. So I suggest, when you get to college do not be afraid to write more than five paragraphs, do not be afraid to make your own convention. This may include using certain tropes and schemes to a particular written piece. We are only taught metaphor, simile, onomatopoeia, etc. in high school, but I feel it is just as important to learn the others such as anastrophe, ellipsis, antithesis, etc. to be ready for college level writing.

Lastly, I think it is beneficial for a student to enter college knowing how to write an effective business letter. This helps the writer understand the basis of their relationship with their reader. A writer should always be mindful of who their reader is. From this, they learn physical and social space, the purpose of the piece, and what they want their reader to get out of it. They will understand structure is important in order for their writing to flow, but it does not always need to be constrained to five paragraphs. Therefore, I think a business letter should be the only structured written piece a student should be taught.

I would like to thank my readers who took the time to read my posts. I wrote with you in mind and I hope you enjoyed it, just as much as I did writing them.

Commonplace Entry #10

“Uncommon valor was a common virtue.” -Fleet Admiral Chester William Nimitz

I came across this quote when I was watching the TV series “Scandal.” At first I had no idea what it meant. So I decided to look further into it. It is a reference quote to those who fought in World War II specifically in the battle for Iwo Jima. It became very common for these soldiers to continuously make many brave decisions that required them to sacrifice their own lives for their country. It saddens me to think that people would sacrifice their own life for a country. Yet, I am in awe that they would. I want to thank all of them. On a side note, I wonder if this quote can be applied to people outside of the government. Is it common for people to make sacrifices to the point that is becomes common in their lives? What kind of sacrifices are they? How is it to live that way? Just some further analysis.

Assignment #4: Ghostwriting in The Vampire Diaries by L.J Smith

The Vampire Diaries is a series of books written by L.J Smith. vampire-diaries_0The books are about a young girl named Elena Gilbert, whom has her heart torn between two vampire brothers, Damon and Stefan Salvatore. (For those of you who are more interested in watching a show instead of reading the books, there is currently a show called “The Vampire Diaries” on the CW television network.) Smith is the creator of the series, however she only wrote seven out of the thirteen books. When her first book got published, she signed a “work for hire” contract with Alloy Entertainment, Ltd. By signing this document, she gave her rights away as the sole owner of the books. At the time, she was a young aspiring author and did not understand the full extent of this contract and the exact meaning of those three short words. Then the day eventually came when the book packaging company formally asked her to stop writing any further books in The Vampire Diaries series.

Smith’s last book was Midnight in The Return trilogy. Although she wrote the first book Phantom for The Hunters trilogy, Alloy Entertainment, Ltd disliked the route she was taking the series into, so they hired an anonymous ghostwriter (a writer who writes any form of text, but the writing gets credited to another person. Musicians, political leaders, celebrities are the ones who most often hire ghostwriters to write or edit their stories) to rewrite the Phantom book completely and continue the rest of the series their way by conveying it through Smith’s writing style to keep the readers engaged. Her name continues to be showcased on the cover: “Created by L.J Smith.” And to this day, the ghostwriter remains anonymous. I will discuss the differences and similarities in stylistic concepts between the two authors and how that affects the devoted readers.500px-Midnight_alternate

The two books I chose to analyze are the last one L.J Smith wrote Midnight in The Return Trilogyand the second book in The Hunters Trilogy, Moonsong. I choose not to use Phantom because even though the ghostwriter rewrote the entire book, there are still some pieces of Smith’s writing because she did originally write the book. Both books begin the same way with “Dear Diary,” and then went into how Elena was feeling at the moment. In Midnight, she was feeling frightened but explained how frightened she was “I’m so frightened I can hardly hold this pen. I’m printing rather than writing in cursive, because that way I have more control.” Here, one can visually see the extent of how frightened the character is feeling. In comparison to Moonsong, all that was said was “I’m so scared.” The reader has a vague knowledge of how the character is feeling.

Next, in Midnight the author’s social space is at a level of informality to the reader. The author has her characters talk directly to the reader in Elena’s diary entries. For example, “What am I terrified of, you ask? And when I say “of Damon” you don’t believe the answer, not if you’d seen the two of us a few days ago. But to understand, you have 9_The_Vampire_Diaries_The_Hunters_Moonsongato know a few facts.” Here, the author’s word choice is “you” which directly engages the reader into the story, creating a sort of bond with the character. In Moonsong, the author writes “And now I’m terrified. Why? Simply because I’m leaving home.” The social space here is formal and without the use of the word “you” the reader may not feel attended to. L.J Smith use of physical space is decent. Her writing style helps the reader visualize it as if they were watching a film, for instance, “near-scalding coffee seemed to have splashed her hand and arm and soaked her jeans on one thigh. The cup and saucer were laying in pieces on the floor. The tray and the cookies had bounced off behind a chair. The plate of a steak tartar, however, had miraculously landed on the couch, right side up.”

L.J Smith uses parentheses:

“At least I got to see how Stefan blossomed when being fed with human blood. (I admit that I gave him a few extra feedings that weren’t on his chart, and I’d have to be an idiot not to know that my blood is different from other people’s- it’s much richer and it did Stefan amazing amounts of good.)”

Which I found interesting that she uses them in a first person narrative, not to explain the meaning of a word, but to further add commentary to a sentence. The ghostwriter does not use parentheses. A trope that L.J Smith frequently used was similes. For example, “those are facades he puts on to cover himself, like clothes,”  “It’s like being wrapped in cotton all the time,” and “at the glorious golden beauty of her, as if the child of a sunbeam and a moonbeam had entered his room and was harmlessly bathing him in light.” Her use of simile is a cautious attempt to link together two unlike things. The ghostwriter did not use any clearly visible similes or metaphors. On the other hand, the ghostwriter did make use of onomatopoeias. For example, “thud” and “he grinned, and a tiny zing! shot right through Bonnie” The effect this trope has on the reader is he or she is able to imagine and hear the sound that the word resembles.

L.J Smith’s writing style consists of short sentences such as, “I can’t kiss her again. I can’t.” and “Damon leaped.” This leaves the reader to question. Well, where did Damon leap from? A major part of being able to read is able to imagine the scene at the same time. It is nearly impossible to do so if not given the appropriate details. The ghostwriter on the other hand uses a longer, more formal, sentence structure “Would you? the panther purred lazily, and Elena tried to push the thought away.” Next, L.J Smith seemed to commonly use the words “whispered” and “said” in the dialogue parts. The ghostwriter went into more depth when the character spoke, for example, “. . . he said to Damon, his lips twitching slightly with amusement” and “. . . said Elena, touched and a little flustered.” This gives more life to the characters when they speak. In the second chapter of Midnight, L.J Smith referred back to the diary’s entry “so all bets were off” in essence to keep the theme of the first few chapters continuous. She also has her characters talk to themselves, “Just relax, she told herself. Think of Stefan.” The ghostwriter has the character not necessarily talk to themselves, but rather think internally, “right, Elena thought with a curious mixture of relief and disappointment.” In both books, the writers switch to different character perspectives every once in a while and I came across many italicized words as well. The purpose of italicizing words is to emphasize their significance in the sentence.

Furthermore, I found Smith’s writing to be in the form of right branching subject-verb-object style, for example in this sentence, “Damon found himself pressing on a canine with his tongue, willing it to extend, willing it with all his cramped and frustrated soul to sharpen.” This is the standardized form of writing, where the subject is stated first in the sentence so the reader knows who is doing it, then what are they doing, and what are they using to complete the action. This helps one read the passage more easily. On the other hand, I found the ghostwriter to write in left branching subject-verb-object style, for example, “a box tipped from Stefan’s enormous pile as he started up the staircase, and Damon caught it easily despite the suitcase.” The second part of the sentence shows subject-verb-object. I found this to be an interesting sentence because it combines the writing style of both authors. As a reader, one may not notice this slight change because they are too focused on the reading the passage and finding out what will happen next. As a result, they may notice that the writing styles are different, but not necessarily know why it seems different since the writing style of the ghostwriter is subtle.

A ghostwriter is highly practiced in mimicking someone else’s writing style. After all, it is their job to do so. What I found interesting about this case was that only books eight through ten were written by an anonymous ghostwriter. I conducted a lot of research to see if any cases have been disputed regarding who the ghostwriter was, but nothing showed up. It is almost as if no one tried to claim themselves as the ghostwriter. Moreover, the following three books to the Vampire Diaries series were written by a ghostwriter as well, but she was named, Aubrey Clark. Why is it that her name was disclosed to the audience, but not the author of three middle books of the series? I found this odd. So, I decided to perform a brief comparison on the writing style of Aubrey Clark and the anonymous ghostwriter.

The book Aubrey Clark wrote, The Salvation: Unseen, started in a similar way that Moonsong Salvation_Novel_Coverstarted. “Yesterday, I felt happy.” It is short, to the point, and directly states the emotion, just like the anonymous ghostwriter writing style. Also I noticed in the middle of Elena’s, the main character, diary entry she gets interrupted, just like in the other book. Clark would also go into further detail of how the character appeared after a character spoke. Unlike Smith, she would just place “she said” or “she whispered” without any expansion on the character’s appearance. For example, Clark wrote “. . . jasmine said, her words rushed. She looked up at him with big, appealing eyes, a tiny nervous smile tilting up the corners of her mouth.” This gives the reader an image of the character in relation to the scene.

Overall, I found some distinct differences between L.J Smith and the anonymous ghostwriter. Even though they might have been slight to the point where the reader may not have been able to notice firsthand, the writing styles are a bit different. Granted, the writing styles may be similar because a ghostwriter is hired to copy the previous author’s style in order. Lastly, I found it interesting that Clark’s identity was disclosed, but not the writer of The Hunter’s Trilogy.


Smith, L.J. The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Midnight. New York: HarperTeen, 2011. Print.

Smith, L. J. Vampire Diaries, The Hunters – Moonsong. London: Hodder Children’s, 2012. Print.

Smith, L. J./ Clark Aubrey. The Salvation: Unseen. N.p.: Amazon Pub, 2013. Print.



Commonplace Entry #9

Caged Bird

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

-Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

In memory of Maya Angelou I wanted to dedicate one of my commonplace entries to her. When I was a young girl in school poetry was never one of my interests. However, when we came across this poem and analyzed it until the very last detail, its words stuck with me. We spent several weeks on this poem. It gave me further insight about slavery and how words cannot describe the emotion and feelings one went through. The way Angelou repeats the main verse emphasises the point she wants to get across, her rhyming pattern makes the poem flow, and her use of a profound metaphor, even though her poem is about a “bird” it is actually referring to a person longing for their freedom, is what makes this poem one to remember. This renowned poet, civil rights activist, and award-winning author will never be forgotten. Her words continue to live. May she rest in peace.

Commonplace Entry #8

“You don’t need endless time and perfect conditions. Do it now. Do it today. Do it for twenty minutes and watch your heart start beating.” -Barbara Sher

The other class meeting we attended a quest speaker presentation by an English professor at UCLA. She said a really interesting quote about perfection, however I don’t remember the exact words. But, a few days later I came across this quote regarding perfection. And this pertains to me, there is never the perfect moment to do anything. If I have a goal in mind or want to get something done I should not worry about if it’s the “right time.” I should just do it. Getting things done is what makes it perfect, not waiting for perfection to happen or come to me.

Dr. Sarah Mesle’s Talk

Am I looking to be a writer in the future? No. Did I find this talk useful? Yes.

Dr. Mesle is a faculty member in the English Department at UCLA. She is also the Senior Humanities Editor for the the Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB). Lastly, she is a co-editor for a blog known as She presented a lot of pointers for an aspiring writer. Even though, I am not an aspiring writer, I use internet sources such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and and as a writer for the internet, my audience should matter and I should showcase my writing style techniques correctly. 

Some pointers:

  • Be interesting, be interested. (College is the best time to do this, since we have all the sources available to learn new things.)
  • Writing isn’t magic, its a craft. (No one is born a writer. Everyone can become a writer with practice.)
  • Know where a certain persona should be placed. (A distinct picture for each website to represent the website.)
  • Believe in your voice. (Never give up on your writing.)
  • Read your own reading. (When you are reading and realize the part where you get bored, and as a writer avoid doing that in your writing for your readers.)
  • Read the internet (Buzzfeed, New Yorker, etc.)
  • When you post a review, make sure to post it at midnight or the next morning. 

These ones resonated with me the most. 

Commonplace Entry #7

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” -Dr. Seuss

I chose this because as a young reader, I enjoyed reading Dr. Seuss books. Although, I may not have really understood the quote at the time it did have a positive effect on me. I looked at my circle of people who surrounded me and I thought about who really mattered to me. Now, taking this class, I was able to understand why it had such an effect on me. This quote is a good example of an antimetabole, where items in the sentence are repeated in reverse order. This scheme offers the readers and writers to capture a meaning in a memorable form.

“What is going on in this text?”- Rhetorical and Stylistic Analysis

The passage I have chosen to analyze using specific rhetorical and stylistic con50ShadesofGreyCoverArtcepts is a chapter from the book Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L James. In this scene, the main characters Christian and Anastasia have already met, Christian has recently disclosed the type of relationship he wants to be in with Anastasia, a D/s one (dominance and submissive), so now they have met up for dinner to discuss the contract and relationship. It is interesting to see the author’s minimal and typical usage of these concepts, yet readers are immensely captivated by this book.


E. L James seems to be an imaginative author. She is able to create intimate dialogue between the characters and how their relationship evolved over a short period of time, one to two years in three novels. Due to this fact, its seems she knows an awful lot about the topic of a dominant-submissive relationship. Therefore, I feel her ethos presents her as one who is well-informed and authorized to write about this topic. For those of you, who like me, have never heard of such until this book, allow me to provide you with the definition. Dominance and submission, D/s, is a set of behaviors, customs and rituals involving the giving by one individual to another individual of control over them in a BDSM (bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, masochism) erotic episode or lifestyle. When I did a background search on her however, it showed otherwise, she was a television executive before she became an author. And her inspiration for writing the book came from the Twilight series written by Stephanie Meyer. The dominance-submissive relationship rose from her own mid-life crisis fantasies.

I feel as an author she did superb, after all, I did read all three books in two weeks during winter break. As a reader, I was hooked on the romance and imagery. At times she did not use specific detail, but it left the reader to fill in the gaps of the picture. For example, “Christian is leaning casually against the bar, drinking a glass of white wine. He’s dressed in his customary white linen shirt, black jeans, black tie, and black jacket. His hair is as tousled as ever.” There are some details, but as a reader I was able to fill in the character with my own features I find attractive in a man. Hfifty-shades-of-grey-e1343684431190er power of imagery would also intensify the action in multiple scenes.

“Anastasia, it doesn’t matter if it’s legal or not. It represents an arrangement that I would like to make with you— what I would like from you and what you can expect from me. If you don’t like it, then don’t sign. If you o sign and then decide you don’t like it, there are enough get-out clauses so you can walk away. Even if it were legally binding, do you think I’d drag you through the courts if you did decide to run?” This presents as her validity as an author who can write about a D/s relationship. Before this scene, she explicitly goes over in detail what this arrangement, usually in a contract form, entails. From this, I am convinced she is knowledgeable on this subject.


Textual Arena
In this scene, the author chose to place the subject first and the verb second, an example of right branching. “Christian is leaning casually against the bar, drinking a glass of white wine.” A subtle metaphor I found in this passage was when the character, Anastasia, referred to herself as a member of the Clumsyville town: “I move forward, aware that I, Anastasia Steele of Clumsyville, am in high stilettos.” As readers, we know that such a town does not exist in the real world. Since, this book focuses on the sexual relationship between two people, I found her word choice to be interesting. She uses, “tousled,” “admiring,” “gazing,” “pull,” “charge,” and “palpitating” to explicitly show the extremity of Anastasia’s attraction to Christian. She uses these words to describe Christian’s character: “sexy,” “gracefully,” “adorable,” and “long fingers.” The author does not completely construct every single aspect of the character. This is effective because it leaves the reader to construct his or her own visual characteristics of the character that they find sexually attractive. For the character, Anastasia, she uses words such as: “impatient” “stunning,” “sly,” and “smirking.” As a reader, I constructed Stars On The Set Of 'Fifty Shades Of Grey'the image of Anastasia as being an introvert and innocent, yet charming. And the attraction of these two can hook a reader to continue reading about how this love story will end.

Social Arena
I chose this scene because it was the start to Christian and Anastasia’s unusual relationship. Many people do not understand or know about this kind of relationship. It keeps the reader curious and interested. This book lies on the foundation of Christian’s psychological condition but is kept hidden and unseen under his and Anastasia’s sexual relationship. She succeeds with the use of sexual scenes and the obstacles the couple faces in being in this kind of relationship. However, in the end they fall in love and no longer abide by the contract and rules of their dominant-submissive relationship. As a reader, that had no idea of what a dominant-submissive relationship regarded. I went along with what the author said and explained through the characters of what that type of relationship contained. Her “footing” in this scene shows her knowledge about the topic and how two people begin this type of relationship. She uses the words “contract,” “trust,” and “honesty.” She clearly disapproves of this type of relationship because of how the series ends.

Cultural Arena
As I reread this scene, I found that it did not differ from the average dating scene. Except, it involved a contract and rules. It is common to be nervous. She also opened the dialogue between the two with “You look stunning.” This is a typical opening sentence when you are meeting with someone for a date. She also uses a cliché conversation starter: “Well, I could ask you what you thought of the weather today.” The effect that this can have on a reader is that it may provoke them to rolls their eyes or awe at their relationship. She also illustrates Anastasia’s feeling with the standard Fifty-Shades-of-Grey-Official-Pageemotion of a dumbstruck lover. For example, “. . . that renders me speechless and all molten inside.”

Tropes and Scheme
In this scene she only uses one type of trope. There was a metaphor (identification of two unlike things) used to describe the extent of the character’s, Anastasia, clumsiness. The author referred to her as a member of Clumsyville. However, I would consider this to be a poor example. It is a cliché and not profound. I also found one type of scheme, anaphora (repeating items at the beginning of a series of phrases) to enhance the character’s feelings toward his lover, “how far I can go with you, how far I can take you.” Due to the lack of tropes and schemes I found the series to be easy to read, mediocre, and concrete. Yet, these book attracted many readers because of its subject and the authors use of imagery. If you are into adult romance or just want to know why she has received so much publicity, pick up a book for yourself. I recommend it.


James, E L (2011-05-25). Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy (p. 214-216). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Commonplace Entry #6

“. . . if one is to learn to live with the dead, one must first learn to live with the living.” – Love’s Executioner by Irvin D. Yalom

As I was reading one of the chapters this quote stood out to me. I do not know if it has any meaning to me because no one has recently died in my family that I was very close to. However, every time I think about death I think about my dog, Chubbaca, who was my dog for 14 years and then died of cancer.  I think the reason why this quote stood out to me was because it is a type of scheme, an epistrophe (where is repeats again at the end of clause) or antimetabole (where items are repeated in reverse order). Schemes can have a powerful effect on a reader. It made me mournful and rehash an old memory.

Commonplace Entry #5

“When someone really hears you without passing judgement on you, without taking responsibility for you, without trying to mold you, it feels good. When I have been listened to, when I have been heard, I am able to re-perceive my world in a new way and go on. It is astonishing how elements that seem insoluble become soluble when someone listens. How confusions that seem irremediable become relatively clear flowing streams when one is heard.” -Carl Rogers, Intentional Interviewing and Counseling

I found this quote interesting because I found myself asking, when someone tells you what to do or gives you advice, does that help a person or not really? Is it better to listen to someone in the time of need and have them find their own way to explore and express themselves? I also felt this quote related to what we are learning in class. This sentence, “. . . without passing judgement on you, without taking responsibility for you, without trying to mold you . . .” is an example of parallelism because it contains grammatically equivalent items in a coordinated series. It is also an example of anaphora because it has repeating items at the beginning of each phrase. This sentence, “How confusions that seem irremediable become relatively clear flowing streams when one is heard” is an example of an anastrophe because the order of the sentence is inverted.