Posts Tagged ‘set’

Writing Assignment: Writing About Three Objects

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Writing a description of a single object is always a good exercise. If you add another thing, write about two objects, you can compare and contrast them. Add a third and you have a set and the possibilities multiply. The set is often more interesting than the objects contained in the set.

Sets go beyond mathematics. They are they ways we organize our lives. Two objects are interesting—three is a collection.  Look around you: the things that you use and value are often found in groups of at least three. My desk contains no fewer than ten manual writing implements at any one time. Observing that alone would give you a clue that I may be a writer.

Here’s my example:

Above my office bookshelf I have a selection of science fiction pulp magazines. I’ve had each carefully prepared and framed with museum-quality mounting. The entire issue is carefully preserved—not just the cover. They are also primarily Volume 1, Number 1 issues (accept for the three issues of Astounding carrying the serialization of Robert A. Heinlein’s “Double Star”).

One of my favorites is a single frame holding three small format magazines, each v.1, no.1. They are a set: Vanguard, Venture, Vortex.

Their covers are endlessly fascinating. Vanguard shows the tail of a blasting rocket in space where an unlucky astronaut has fallen into the fiery exhaust. Venture’s cover has a powerful, bare-chested caged man in the background. He appears dominated by the strong, redheaded women in the foreground. Her breasts are covered by metallic cones and she wears a sheer top. It is clear that she is in charge, but of what? Vortex displays either a giant microscope focused on a man and a women fallen upon the slide surface, or is it a miniature couple, reduced in some mysterious way?

Each cover promises a story, action, and exotic adventure. I’ve learned that most of these magazines, called, “pulps” because of the poor quality paper used in their printing, also have equally poor writing, but not all do. Within their covers the greats of the golden era learned their trade and built a powerful genre. The stories, good or bad, were wrapped in glorious, lurid covers. There’s a promise in these covers. And that’s why I display them in the room where I write, where I work.

For today’s assignment, take three like objects, even if they are very little alike, and write about them. You can spend some time, but not much, describing them. Your task with this assignment is to talk about them as a whole, a set. What does the set itself evoke? What does combining these objects unlock, allow you to think and then write about?

It shouldn’t take you long to look at your surroundings, find three like objects and begin writing about them as a single thing.


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Business Blogging: Tweet For The Moment, Blog For The Ages

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

I’m a big fan of Twitter. I’m sure part of it is the instant gratification of seeing people respond to something that I’ve written and maybe even passing it on to others. But I also find it frustrating. It’s like being at a cocktail party and finding that you’ve said something really witty, but only two or three people heard it. You either let it go, or you walk around the party trying to find the right moment to insert your bon mot. It’s awkward and not that effective.

And a week or so later, when you try to remember what you said at this party, that really terrific thing, you rack your brain, but can’t quite come up with it. That’s Twitter.

The blog, on the other hand, is slow, reliably reference-able, and findable. It’s like a speech, prepared in advance, with the text distributed. Some will hear the speech on the day it’s delivered, but others will be able to reference its text across the years.

With Twitter, the only people who can see your brilliance are those who are connected AND online at a particular moment. Very few people use Twitter to search back to see what any particular person tweeted six month ago - and it’s very difficult to do. But it’s a very good way to draw attention NOW to a subject, or perhaps, a blog post.

Both are very useful. Combined they are powerful.

If you are blogging, you should tweet about it. If you have something substantial to say, you probably shouldn’t rely just on Twitter to say it.