Sorry 5th Period for the lack of instruction before - this is my first time teaching two AP classes at once. I think it will be best if we have two separate and independent blog response sites for future assignments. Feel free to read the other class's blog responses for inspiration, but answer any assignment questions here. Thanks for your patience!

You can enter your blog response any time after reading the article from the Assignments Page. Your entry should discuss the author's message concerning frivolous writing. Mention connections or concepts that resonate with you from
the reading. Reference the text to support your ideas for full credit. This blog closes on Monday October 3 at the beginning of the school day. You must submit one entry with your own ideas and connections and one entry where you
respond to another blogger's ideas or connections.
 


Katelynn Horn
09/28/2011 22:05

“HOW TO SAY NOTHING IN 500 WORDS” brought insight to the way boring and usual way I tend to write. In the essay Robert explains that the intent of writing is to make it interesting, even if you may be focusing on the same points as most of your classmates, “…there are some things that you can do which will make your papers, if not throbbingly alive, at least less insufferably tedious than they might otherwise be.” (Page 3) I found the sections, SLIP OUT OF ABSTRACTION and COLORFUL WORDS, filled with the most useful advice concerning my own my own writing because they focused on more descriptive and elaborative writing, for example: “Instead of it was hot we may say it was blistering, sultry, muggy, suffocating, steamy, wilting.” (page 9) Paul McHenry Roberts definitely had a young audience in mind and gave great tips on the common struggles that many of us have when writing an essay.

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Katelynn Horn
09/28/2011 22:16

* please ignore the first "the way" I have in my first sentence.

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Matt Kmetz
09/29/2011 21:04

The article was very interesting and informational, Roberts gave his readers intriguing tips on how to spice up a writer’s writing and make it more effective. One section that stood out to me was CALL A FOOL A FOOL, because Roberts addresses that though, being modest would be commendable, it does not help the writer’s writing. Roberts says to “Decide what you want to say and say it as vigorously as possible, without apology and in plain words.”(pg 8) which is very true. If you do not have a firm stand in your argument then you are less likely to persuade your reader. Another section that got my attention was GET RID OF OBVIOUS PADDING, because it reminds the reader that it is the quality of the writing that matters, not the quantity of words required in an essay. I know that if I was assigned an essay with a 500 word requirement my first priority would be to get the 500 words done with, and not pay as much attention to the substance of the essay. Roberts brings up an excellent point however, and reminds me that “Instead of stuffing your sentences with straw, you must try steadily to get to get rid of the padding, to make your sentences lean and tough. If you are really working at it, your first draft will greatly exceed the required total…” (pg 6). After reading this article I feel as if Roberts has reminded me of the many mistakes that can be made while writing, and how to correct those mistakes.

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Abbie Adams
09/29/2011 21:23

In “HOW TO SAY NOTHING IN 500 WORDS OR LESS” the CALL A FOOL A FOOL section brought me to the realization that I just need to say everything as what it is instead of using euphemisms such as “passed away”, and “feeble minded”. I know that in my writing and when I talk I use many softer words instead of the real, abrupt words. Another mistake I noticed in my writing is that I am timid and use too much “Obvious Padding” with the beating around the bush statements as Paul McHenery Roberts states “Hedging the thing about with “in-my-opinion’s” and “it-seems-to-me’s” and “at-least-from-my-point-of-view’s” gains you nothing.” This article also helped me see that I need to use less obvious examples in my persuasive essays.

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Abbie Adams
09/29/2011 21:31

Response to Katelynn:

I agree that the ABSTRACTION and COLORFUL WORDS help me to understand that I need to use different words and sentence structure when needed. Also that the tips that Roberts gives help me (and everyone else) with my new essays.

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Morgan Connelly
09/29/2011 22:49

The article "HOW TO SAY NOTHING IN 500 WORDS” made me think. It definitely made me question my writing abilities. As I was reading I realized I use a lot of "obvious padding" by adding frivolous details and "colorless words". I also found the "Call a Fool a Fool" section quite interesting. I know now that using "softer" words is not necessarily a good thing. It caught me off guard when the article mentioned that "your first draft will greatly exceed the required total, and then you will work it down," (pg 6)I almost always have to beef my paper up rather than slim it down. Now I know that my paper needs to have more quality and not quantity. I learned some great things from this article that I hope to put to use in my upcoming essays!

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Danni Deppen
09/30/2011 16:13

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Danni Deppen
09/30/2011 17:09

“How to Say Nothing in Five Hundred Words” is rubbish. Droll prompts deserve dull essays. It is a preposterous idea that a student needs to use support that is not commonly thought of. For example: my friend Ben Enyeart would not sit there and contemplate new materials for an ancient prompt. He would use old arguments that have support readily available. Mr. Roberts is a fool. He cannot make up his mind on whether or not “colorful words” should be used or no as shown here, “However, it should not be supposed that the fancy word is always better… Ages differ in how they like their prose. The nineteenth century liked it rich and smoky the twentieth has usually preferred it lean and cool” (pages 9 and 10). Lastly, his advice to “take the less usual side” is ridiculous. The reason there is a LESS usual side is that there is LESS support for that opinion. Mr. Roberts is intellectual, and the article is garbage.

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Danni Deppen
09/30/2011 17:18

In response to: Matt
I concur that CALL A FOOL A FOOL is acutely conspicuous. The title alone is blunt, along with the information divulged there after. Euphemisms are abominable and should be abolished from diction of any sort.

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Bryan Zacharias
09/30/2011 17:58

The article “How to Say Nothing in 500 Words or Less” completely unraveled nearly everything I taught myself about writing essays. Usually when I go to write an essay, I would slip in fancy euphemisms and watch the word count rather than the actual contents of my essays, but as the sections “GET RID OF OBVIOUS PADDING” and “CALL A FOOL A FOOL” reeducated me on this matter. Instead of adding on soft words, I should “mount guard against those roundabout phrases… that tend to slip into your writing to rob it of its crispness and force” (pg 8). Instead of beefing up my sentences, I should “try steadily to get rid of the padding” (pg 6). The most important lesson that I learned from this though, is that I should make my essays appeal to my teachers, in order to keep them sane.

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Bryan Zacharias
09/30/2011 17:58

Response to Danni Deppen:
Even though your post is against Robert’s article, you actually used a lot of the techniques he described. Such as in your second sentence you stated that “Droll prompts deserve droll essays”, which is actually a sentence without paddings; one of the things the articles mentioned you should do in the section “GET RID OF OBVIOUS PADDING”. You also used methods from “SLIP OUT OF ABSTRACTION” in your third sentence about your friend, and went straight to calling Mr. Roberts a fool/intellectual (which is the very word he used as a demonstration of coloured words that picked up ineffectuality), which is what Robert taught us in “CALL A FOOL A FOOL”; getting straight to the point instead of adding pointless word additives. The most glaring point of your post that caused me to come to this conclusion was the fact that your post is actually against the article, something I haven’t seen a student done, and something that the section “TAKE THE USUAL SIDE” told us to do if we could. This made me wonder if you actually liked the article and wanted to just “troll” us, or if all these were accidentally used. Either way, it brought a smile to my face.

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Danni Deppen
09/30/2011 18:12

In response to Bryan's response on my blog: I was indeed using the devices proposed by Mr. Roberts in the article, I thought it would be refreshing for Mrs. Gunn and everyone else to read. Good eye!

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Alleigh Curtis
09/30/2011 19:41

"HOW TO SAY NOTHING IN 500 WORDS OR LESS" made me realize that I need help with my writing. Before reading this, I thought that my writing was okay, but after reading this I found that my writing definitely needs some work. I tend to state the obvious in my essays."GET RID OF OBVIOUS PADDING" reads "...dig up more real content. Instead of taking a couple of obvious points off the surface of the topic, and the circling warily around them...figure out the details." (page 7)Using facts or information that may have not been thought of or is not well known to the audience will make an essay interesting and will not bore its reader. As both Abbie and Katelynn said, I too believe that COLORFUL WORDS helped me to understand that tactful and interesting wording is what makes an the essay readable. Robert's essay was directed to school/college students. His essay was effective and had a positive influence on me and others as well.

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Alleigh Curtis
09/30/2011 19:51

Response to Morgan

I also have to add stronger points into my paper instead of taking them out. I always thought that using softer words was a good thing too. I'm glad I'm not the only one!

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Josh Wall
09/30/2011 21:41

Response to Alleigh:

I agree with Alleigh, after reading "How to say nothing in 500 words" I realized how much I can still improve on my writing. But that's what I believe makes writing so special, no matter how much you write or how much you know, your writing can always improve and you can always learn someing new.

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Josh Wall
09/30/2011 21:51

In "How to say nothing in 500 words" the section titled "Take the less usual side" made me begin questioning weather I am truly challenging myself as a student. When given a choose of prompts, I typically pick the one that makes the most sence to me right off the bat, and that is usally the same one everyone else in the class chooses. "If you are to choose among 'The Value of Fraternities' and 'My Favorite High School Teacher' and 'What I Think About Beetles,' by all means plump for the beetles. By the time the instructor gets to your paper, he will be up to his ears in tedious tales about a French teacher at Bloombury High."(pg.4) By choosing the more complicated promted I will not only challege myself, but also give my teacher a new change in pace and show them that I enjoy a challege.

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Katelynn Horn
09/30/2011 23:00

In response to Josh:
I agree with you on taking the less usual side being more entertaining for the teacher yet more challenging for the student. I find it hard to pick that side if you don't agree with it though because for me its difficult enough figuring how to write for the side you agree on in the first place!

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Matt Kmetz
09/30/2011 23:14

In response to Alleigh:
I agree with Alleigh, that writers must to use information and thoughts that are not well known, as well as using “colorful words” to make their essays tactful and interesting to attract the reader’s attention.

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Cami Kockritz
09/30/2011 23:25

In “How to say nothing in 500 words or less” McHenry Roberts’s illuminates the formality and lifelessness that is typical in most essays(except for Mrs. Gunn’s AP classes because we know better). In the section “Colorful Words”, he exemplifies how word choice may affect the piece as a whole, in paragraph 3 he demonstrates that proper word choice can create a more mature writing style “Thus, in place of "Her heart beat," we may write, "her heart pounded, throbbed, fluttered, danced.". He also goes on to say that decorative words are not always better; I personally struggle with word choice, and I find that I can use the thesaurus over-extensively, which doesn’t necessarily strengthen the writing piece.

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Cami Kockritz
09/30/2011 23:32

In response to Abbie's post:

Though softer words and euphemisms have their place and are used for a reason, blunt, precise words will be of a greater use to create a strong conviction in the argumentative essays we will be writing in this class.

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Evie Showalter
09/30/2011 23:57

To start off, I enjoyed this article quite a bit more than I anticipated. The advice Roberts gives to writers makes sense on almost every point he makes, and he presents the majority of his pointers in a humerus, witty manner. Due to the humor and wittiness I found his article easier to focus on because it made me interested, therefore helping me learn about writing without even realizing it. One tip he gives is that in writing a persuasive essay, it is most likely more proficient to take the side not popular with the rest of the class or even the teacher. His reason behind this is that your paper will be refreshing after reading arguments all centered on the same position and also because if you have an opposing argument to the teacher you will have a chance of receiving a better grade. "If he does have convictions and you oppose him, his problem is to keep from grading you higher than you deserve in order to show he is not biased." Another subject Roberts covered was about Pat Expressions, and he listed a few examples that surprised me. I had been using a few of those Pat Expressions myself and hadn't realized that they weren't as effective as they used to be back when everyone didn't tire out the phrases. The last section I'd like to discuss is Obvious Padding. I had no idea there was a name for sticking in unnecessary words into your paper, and after reading Roberts examples of adding too much padding I can see I use fluff more often than I notice. I also noticed that padding is mainly used when you can't think up anymore creative writing and eventually have to resort to padding. However, Roberts had a solution when you write your paper, write it long and aim higher then dispose of unneeded words that only add to the pads further.

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Evie Showalter
10/01/2011 00:05

In response to Alleigh Curtis's post:
I agree with your statement that this paper reveals that our writing needs some improving, because I know mine needs less commonly used phrases and words. Also your statement, "Robert's essay was directed to school/college students" is something I strongly agree with because he mentions teachers more often than not when it came to writing correctly. Yet, I can also see his article still being an excellent advice on writing for writers of any age.

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Danny Malone
10/02/2011 13:58

Danny Malone
Fri, 30 Sep 2011 23:08:07
Well, I have to admit I'm exhausted and not having a great night but I managed to get home so hopefully I can do this.
"How to Say Nothing in Five hundred Words or Less", by Paul McHenry is exactly what I thought it would turn out to be, an example of what I write as a younger, not as experienced, writer, and then why some of the most simple techniques are wrong, but still not uncommon. The section "Avoid The Obvious Content" didn't really seem to be me at first till I read all the way through and then looked at some old writing of mine. The section Call A Fool A Fool really struck out to me personally, mainly for the reason getting straight to your point without sugar-coding your idea, is always a good way to get someone's attention, for better or for worst. To summarize my feelings towards this article I found his wit to be amusing, and the pure fact that most of this is obvious, however it has just been made clear to me.
Danny Malone
Fri, 30 Sep 2011 23:12:48
In response to Ryan W.;
Reading the very first sentence in your response made me think of myself. I, too don't have great diction or word choice and I will sometimes go through an entire segment of my essay just to fit in a word I believe fits. It is for that reason that the last 4 sections of the text grabbed my attention.

I posted on the wrong class and recently found out. I figured now was better time than any to copy my response from the other class blog.

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