Month: June 2017

How to do research

We all know that social media is a tool for information sharing; many newspapers and magazines have Facebook pages. However, there are clickbait sites like Diply that create ridiculous headlines to attract people. UniLAD, Wake Up World and MaximBady tend to be full of conspiracy theories or yellow journalism. Research is a key part of life; most people simply assume that only academics need research skills. But you don’t need to spend hours in a library to fact find. This blog post is dedicated to fact finding and how to know the difference between hype and the real thing.

Newspapers and magazines: Who to trust

Most newspapers are politically biased; with The Times and The Telegraph being right wing and the Guardian and Mirror being left wing. However, some newspapers talk about celebrity news, the latests diets and unusual stories e.g. an unusual illness. Other magazines can be dubious in their findings; even haute couture prints like Harpers Bazaar doesn’t reference any sources. Sites like Mashable may have validity, but are focused more on trends. Safe bets you;d be local newspapers, The Times and The Independent.

Academic research:

Academic research is done with literature reviews, journals, podcasts and critical essays. Whilst most of us do not write essays after we have finished education, the same sources can still be used for fact finding in everyday life. Academic research is deemed reliable because of primary and secondary research with lots of studies and footnotes. However, some of the research may not be suitable for more vocational industries.

Professional research:

Sites like Mintel, TrendHunter and PSFK have insight into B2B and B2C trends, specifically for businesss and organisations. Articles like these use examples of how products are meeting consumer needs, after evolving from trends. These sites are updated regularly and are more informative than newspaper and magazine articles.

On using Wikipedia:

Wikipedia regularly updates its pages and references any sources in footnotes. It used to have a bad reputation in the past, but for certain topics it seems credible. An arts and humanities edition is Encyclopaedia Britannica, discussing literature and art. Encyclopedia Britannica is sometimes favoured more because it was originally a print publication.

As a fiction writer:

Visiting locations for book settings, reading fiction of the same genre, watching films and plays live are all forms of research. Going deeper, this could involve chatting to experts on authors, reading up on historical eras the story is set in

Full Fact is a charity dedicated to debunking urban myths. Similar to Snopes.com, Full Fact focuses on news and campaigns such as the law, politics, current topics such as Brexit and crime rates. Full Fact is a useful nonprofit because it is accessible to all, and is publicised on social media platforms such as Facebook.

Storyful its a social news channel which delivers engaging content.

Mock the Week is a comedy news channel which satirises current news. It’s a news source in the sense that it does actually feature papers’ headlines. However, because it does not present any sources and is designed for humour, it is not a reliable news source.

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The close of the book: endings 

This post is sponsored by Pearl Whites, because you’ll be smiling instead of grieving by the end.
I watched casualty, it had a funeral of one of the main characters on it. It was quite ancient Egyptian, with Ethan giving cal all the things he needed for the afterlife, like his phone, snacks and condoms – “the final trip he didn’t prepare for, as with everything”. Romeo and Juliet wanted a suicide pact ending, and Juliet is laid out in all her beauty to see while asleep. Juliet’s narcoleptic trance is very sleeping beauty, only with a tragic end. I personally hate when a story has no closure; A Series of Unfortunate Events ends in such and underwhelming way when Violet, Claus, Sunny and Beatrice sailing away. There are many endings in life; graduation, retirement, breakups, the posting of a letter and getting on a team home from a trip. When I left my job, it felt like I had died in loving memory. But one ending we don’t talk about is death – and even less is thought of “character death”. When the book closes and the ink runs out, does the character and their narrative die with only a legacy? There are 3 options:

  1. The character never existed and so can’t die.
  2. The character is immortal and so will live forever
  3. The character lives on in the reader’s imagination

Who’s to say which is the most valid option? Postmodern and reader-response theory believe that 3 is a believable option because the character is not necessarily dictated by the author. Some writers leave a story open-ended so readers can decide for themselves, whilst others provide multiple ending – Margaret Atwood in Endings has a multiple choice selection. Wayne and Garth in Wayne’s world break the fourth wall by replaying the endings with 3 versions of events. This is a departure from fairy tales, where they all live happily ever after. You don’t need to be religious to believe in life after a story/death, it’s merely about perspective.  Here are a few tips on writing a story’s ending:

  1. Reach a satisfying conclusion for the reader
  2. Keep the ending related to the story sequence
  3. Do not write “the end”
  4. Resolve the main conflict of your story
  5. Show character growth and a new equilibrium
  6. Ending the story with it all being a dream is a cop out
  7. Have a moral or lesson in the story
  8. The ending does not have to be happy

This blog is educational; learning does not stop once you leave education. The difference between going to school and going to university is that sometimes the lecturers learn something as well. And the way I am going to end this big is by encouraging you all to comment down below what you think makes a good ending.

 

 

Is Star Wars actually about Arabic culture? 

Okay, so this definitely does not apply to all of the franchise in every way. I personally see Luke sky walker as a bit of an Aladdin figure; with his estranged father and no mother. He is a poor boy who find out he has a royal heritage. Some might say Hercules zero to hero. Some people say Lord of the Rings is about a medieval Christian society. So, I am going to suggest that Star Wars is like Arabic society. 

The setting of bazaars and a hot climate 

In the home town of a protagonist, it feels very much like Agbrabar. People gamble and drink in this culture, whilst living in mud and straw huts. The citizens need weapons to defend themselves from droids and storm troopers. There are stall owners bartering with customers. Stalls outside are usually seen in Arabic environments where people buy hookah pipes, jewels and junk while a turbaned man tells you a sales pitch. Pod racing has replaced camel racing, but the vehicles are the only sign of futuristic technology. 

The light sabers replace swords, for sure, and there are robots instead of genies. But with deserts and hot suns, the environment seems very Arabic. Some of the locations shot for the film’s include Abu Dhabi and Tunisia. Tattooine is even named after Tataouine, the Tunisian city. I am aware there is a lot of setting in forests and outer space as well as desert.

Dress: head dresses and long robes 

And let’s not forget Jabba the hut with his harem belly dancing Princess Leia’s chiffon and metal bikini looked like she was an Arabian slave. Everyone from visitors on the streets to Queen Padme Amidala’s handmaids have hoods covering their faces. The headdresses  could just be to protect their identity, and so they remain mysterious. However, since these robes are often worn in public, it could also be a sign of chastity like hijab. Look at what the handmaids do; they are part of a secret circle protecting their queen whilst being palace servants. Tasks such as escorting the queen, tending to  hair styles and outfits, and interpreting. 

I mean, Padme is like the Queen of Sheba herself. Cosplayers in the Arab world are even employing hijab to celebrate Star Wars day, which I find interesting. It’s a slight stretch but the Arab influence is quite something. 

The class system 

Like in the Middle East, there is a mix of Royal Imperialism in better, richer areas. And there is a political, evil dictator who waged war in innocents. The class divide runs quite deep in the world of Star Wars: holographic machines and droids are more commonplace than food and housing. There are also a few refugees trying to escape a corrupt government – it sounds a bit Syrian to me. When I went travelling in Egypt, people lived in Stone Age woven huts with open fires as a tribal, primitive way of life. Meanwhile, in Qatar, Dubai and Bahrain, rich emirati socialites and royals live in high tech. And it’s the same in Star Wars;  Annakin’s mother is a domestic slave and Padme is a queen in a palace. 

Jedi as part of pre-Islamic Jainism? 

The evil empire as dictatorship and Jihadism is a plausible connection. And Jedis represent a spirituality found in Indian , Thai or pre Islamic religions such as Buddhism and Jainism. Jedi is actually an origin of the word Al-Jeddi, which means mystical warrior in Arabic. Coincidence? I think not. 

Overall conclusion: Star Wars is probably not an Arabian conspiracy theory about ISIS. 

Your new buzzword: mondegreen

Right, I think this blog should have a bit more of what we’re used to. It’s been fun writing about new things, but I’m bored of that now. Plus, I am tired of seeing  Donald Trump on the news, I don’t even live in America. So that’s all I’m saying about politics, put your keyboards down please and pick up your dictionaries. 

So, here we are with a literary device: MONDEGREENS

Family: Metathesis

Metathesis is the swapping of syllables and sounds of letters in a word Solecism is an umbrella term meaning a grammatical mistake in speech and writing. So when this transposition occurs, we get irony or humour. 

Related terms: spoonerisms and malapropisms. 

Spoonerisms: 

A spoonerism is named after William Spooner, and it means where the initial sound or letter has been transposed. Spooner was a Vicar, and since this job involves a lot of speaking aloud. So instead of saying “flutterby”, it becomes “butterfly”. This is used for comedic effect, and refers to the spoken word. 

Malapropisms: 

A malapropism is similar to a spoonerism, except an entire word becomes substituted instead of a syllable. Word association is sometimes used with malapropism because certain words are substituted e.g. Dancing the flamingo instead of flamenco. One popular phrase which is “the world is your lobster”. 

Mondegreen: 

Mondegreens are misheard or mispronounced words, usually in songs, that are almost homophones. Mondegreens can occur either due to someone’s accent when pronouncing a word, sound quality (for songs) or the listener simply mishearing. Typical examples include: “hit me with your pet shark” instead of “hit me with your best shot. There’s even a few popular examples of the funniest misheard song lyrics.

A notable character who uses spoonerisms, mondegreens and malapropisms: 

Miranda Sings

Created by Colleen Ballinger, Miranda thrives off being geeky. Miranda was invented as a way of mocking other YouTubers. Miranda regularly mispronounces words in her YouTube channel, as well as misspelling them on her Twitter account. Miranda is an interesting example because she reflects the digital age of the Internet, where everyone thinks they have special talents. 

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