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May 7, 2009 / Write Away

I was about to give up when I remembered meeting Samuel Beckett at the NSPA convention last year in Seattle. I heard Beckett say that he had actually been a journalism teacher for several years and was presenting a session at the convention on how teaching yearbook had sparked his imagination for the tragicomedy, “Waiting for Godot.” In his session, he asked us to read selected scenes from the play to see the close connection. In fact, he said, although most people think he is writing about the angst of the 20th century, many of the scenes in the play are really about his frustration as a yearbook teacher trying to improve the academics section.

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May 7, 2009 / Copywriting

I ask writers to find sentences or paragraphs that interest them in some way. Then they follow the same four-step process throughout the notebook. First, cut out the sentence and glue it down. Second, rewrite the sentence word for word to get a feel for the it. Third, try to describe on paper what it was they liked about the sentence. Finally, they use the same style technique, but with subject matter that could relate to a yearbook story.

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September 17, 2008 / Whitt and Wisdom

Each story happens in context.

Consider Gone With the Wind. The story, read and reread because of Scarlett’s passion for Ashley, also shows most readers as much as they care to know about the Civil War. The story takes shape in context.

The same principle applies to a yearbook story. Showing one student’s struggle in context will give readers information about the rest of the school.

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