Prototypes in Technical Writing: What are They?

Many a high school student has muddled through a book report in a single caffeine-fueled sitting, but successful research term papers or quarterly progress reports require planning. In technical writing, a prototype might be a full table of contents (with summaries for each major section) and one or two complete chapters.   If conducting a survey is an important part of your project, your prototype might be a complete survey of a…

The future is in interactive storytelling

An interesting piece. Easy-to-learn hypertext authoring tools like Twine and TextureWriter have encouraged many of my students to give this kind of storytelling a try. As longtime experimenters and scholars in interactive narrative who are now building a new academic discipline we call “computational media,” we are working to create new forms of interactive storytelling, strongly shaped by the choices of the audience. People want to explore, through play, themes…

Dozens of Colleges’ Upward Bound Applications Are Denied for Failing to Dot Every I

I’m not saying that the Upward Bound kids deserved to be punished because application writers didn’t follow formatting instructions. I am saying that formatting matters. When your professors put “formatting” on the rubric, they aren’t simply trying to make your life difficult. For the want of double spacing in a small section of a 65-page grant application, 109 low-income high-school students will be cut off from a program at Wittenberg…

With actor Ken Bolden, who appears in Quantum Theatre’s gripping (and hilarious, and shocking) Collaborators

Mix the paranoia of 1984, the absurdity of Brazil, the pathos of Chekhov, the social commentary of Moliere, and a healthy dose of “When Mike and Carol swap jobs, the Bradys are on a collision course for wackiness.” Quantum Theatre’s “Collaborators” is a fascinating study of power, integrity, and compromise. (Sound designer Joe Pino directed me 30 years ago as Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to…

Dissecting a Frog: How to Write a Humor Piece

Analyzing humor, as E.B. White famously said, is like dissecting a frog; few people are interested and the frog dies of it. Nonetheless, writing humor is a highly logical exercise — fit idea X into form Y for humorous result Z — and can therefore be broken down in ways that more slippery kinds of prose tend to resist… While there’s no substitute for a naturally sharp sense of humor,…