OU blog

Personal Blogs

Picture of Robert Cutillo

EMA Note-taking, Poetry, Flash Fiction & Dialogue

Visible to anyone in the world

I've finally finished note-taking for my EMA. The EMA is due in a week on Thursday, so I better get to writing it. I'm pretty sure I know how I'm going to answer the question, but I think it'll be a struggle to hit the 2,000 words.

I've been reading and writing more poetry lately. The stuff I write isn't great, but I do find it more fun to write than prose. Writing a poem is like doing a puzzle.

I've also written a piece of flash fiction, but I'm not too sure I like it. I think there's too much pointless dialogue. I was thinking about writing stories with minimal dialogue, but I'm not sure readers would like that. For example, in my flash fiction, I have the following dialogue:

   'What's wrong?'
   'Nothing.'
   'Well, something must be wrong, because you're not talking to me.'

I don't know. Sometimes I think it'd be best to skip over this type of dialogue and write instead:

   He asked her what was wrong because she had barely said a word. She said it was nothing.

Personally, I think that's much better. It's crisper and simpler.

Permalink
Share post
Picture of Robert Cutillo

Paragraph Structure ... Again

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Robert Cutillo, Sunday, 19 Aug 2018, 16:05

I still struggle with paragraph structure in my essays, but I am getting better. To begin, make your claim. Then present your evidence. Finally, explain why the evidence you have chosen supports your claim. If the paragraph is too long, add a sentence summarising the paragraph. I know I've blogged about this before, but for some reason I seem to forget this structure. I think I get carried away with what I'm writing, to the point where it becomes uncontrolled.

I also use too many quotations in my essays. I have to remember to use quotes only when they have been worded in such a perfect way that it shouldn't be paraphrased or summarised. Ideally, the quote should be short and be introduced in some way. For example, John Smith said 'keep it short and sweet' when he was writing about evidence. Of course, remember to reference.

Permalink 4 comments (latest comment by Robert Cutillo, Friday, 24 Aug 2018, 13:11)
Share post
Picture of Robert Cutillo

Modules, TMA, and the Bristol Prize.

Visible to anyone in the world

Well, after months of thinking, I've finally decided on my next modules for October: Exploring Languages and Cultures and English for Academic Purposes Online. I'm very much looking forward to them both.

I've begun note-taking for my next TMA, but it's not going so well. I've been through all the study materials but not made as many notes as I did on previous assignments. I think I'll go through everything again tomorrow.

I submitted a short story to the Bristol Prize a while ago but unfortunately didn't make the longlist. Ah well. I thought it was a good story, too. Around 2,000 people entered and only 40 were chosen for the longlist. Perhaps I shouldn't be too disheartened.

Permalink
Share post
Picture of Robert Cutillo

Method for Planning Essays and Revisiting James Joyce

Visible to anyone in the world

In my last TMA, to plan my essay, I decided to begin by writing out the question and then answering it with as few words as possible. Then I used the answer to plot out my plan. It so happened there were about four answers to the question, and so these answers provided me with a topic for each paragraph. The final essay was better than anything I've written so far; it was much easier to read than my last one. Hopefully, this will improve my chances of getting a good mark. Regardless of the result, I will still stick with this approach.

I've decided to reread A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and I'd forgotten how well it was written. It's quite depressing actually, reading something written so well and then trying to write something of your own. I wonder if James Joyce was ever intimidated by other writers?

Permalink 6 comments (latest comment by Robert Cutillo, Wednesday, 27 Jun 2018, 18:55)
Share post
Picture of Robert Cutillo

Assignment Methods and Paragraph Structuring

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Robert Cutillo, Sunday, 17 Jun 2018, 13:14

For the latest assignment, I decided to do what I said I was going to do a few posts ago about note-taking: use my own words. And it's worked out OK so far. Next to each note, I wrote the page number. After I had all my notes, it was just a matter of arranging the most relevant ones into a plan. After that I went back through the module book, typed out all the potential quotes I might need, and printed them out. It's worked very well. So far I have written 800 words of the 1,500-word essay in no time at all. So for anyone reading this, this might be a good method to use when writing essays.

Something that has been letting me down a little in my assignments is the structuring of my paragraphs. Luckily, my tutor posted a word document on the forums explaining how we should structure them. First, introduce what the topic of the paragraph. Second, provide the evidence. And third, explain your interpretation of the evidence. If the paragraph is very long, then you could also offer a conclusion. It's been fantastic to have that resource. As a result, this current assignment is coming along nicely. Whether I'm demonstrating that I possess enough knowledge about the topic is another matter.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Picture of Robert Cutillo

TMA, Writing, E3, and the World Cup

Visible to anyone in the world

OK, so my plan for my next TMA is sorted, which is good. I'll starting writing the essay tomorrow and hopefully have a final draft finished for Saturday. Then I can spend Sunday and Monday editing it ready for submission.

I'm trying to take writing a little more seriously. I've found a number of sites that accept volunteer writers, and I've applied to them. Hopefully, I can start building up a portfolio. All this writing should improve my skills, too.

E3 is on at the minute, which is a pain, as I still haven't bought a Nintendo Switch. Unfortunately, I don't have the money or the time at the minute. I've been dying to play Breath of the Wild and Mario Odyssey for a long time now.

For some reason, I'm not excited for the World Cup this year. In fact, I haven't been excited by football for a long time. I'm not too sure why that is. Maybe it's because people get too carried away with it. It's supposed to be a form of entertainment, not something you get violent about.

Not too sure what else to write, so I'll leave it there smile

Permalink
Share post
Picture of Robert Cutillo

Good Riddance TMA 04 and a New Routine

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Robert Cutillo, Monday, 28 May 2018, 19:19

TMA 04 was horrible; I did not enjoy it. I wasn't the only one either: people on the AA100 Facebook group also thought it was horrible. But it's over now, gone. Hopefully, the next TMA is more interesting.

I'm always obsessing over routine. At one point I was setting a 90 minute timer on my phone and doing whatever work I pleased within that time. It was good and I was more productive, but sometimes I would work on things that weren't as important as something else. So my new routine focuses on prioritising. I've made a list of everything I need to do and I've ordered them. Here's the list, beginning with what I consider the most important: writing, uni work, learning Italian and Greek, and reading and learning something new.

I really hope this routine works, as I feel I'm nowhere near accomplishing my goals. University, of course, will take time, but the writing and learning of new languages and new things is totally up to me. I've read that some people can learn a tremendous amount in three months when it comes to language learning. I've been learning Italian on and off now for... well, I don't really want to say. I think I just need to stay focused and stick with my new routine.

By the way, these are my goals: get a degree, be a traditionally published author, be able to speak Italian and Greek (and maybe another language), and to have bought my own home. I'm 30 now, so I believe accomplishing all this by the time I'm 40 is more than doable. I hope.

Permalink
Share post
Picture of Robert Cutillo

Taking Notes

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Robert Cutillo, Friday, 18 May 2018, 20:05

It's always advised you take notes in your own words, but for some reason I've always resisted doing this. I tend to copy everything out ad verbatim, which I know is hindering my learning. So from now on, I'm making a big effort to take notes in my own words. I'm also going to make the notes shorter.

I'm always undecided on whether or not I should plan my stories. I've tried both and yet still can't settle. I wonder why this is? Actually, I think it's because I'm unsure on whether I'm a good writer or not. I suspect I'm OK but not great. There's a lot of room for improvement. I think the best way to speed this up is to write more. Lately, I haven't been writing as much. I think it's because the last few short stories I wrote have been garbage. They're too simple, and the writing style is awful. I write my fiction with too many loose sentences, my ability to describe needs improving, and don't get me started on the dialogue.

I began reading Stephen Pinker's The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing. It has some interesting stuff in it, but he goes on and on about certain things. I think I'll put it down and read something else.

Permalink
Share post
Picture of Robert Cutillo

Rereading The Lord of the Rings

Visible to anyone in the world

I just couldn't settle on a new book. I went through my Kindle and made some false starts. I went to my wish list on Amazon to see if I had anything I fancied there. Nothing. I was getting frustrated. That was until I went through some of my old books that were stashed away in a box in my wardrobe. And what do you know? I found the book.

Or books, in this case, as I had spotted The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. I first read the books when I was 14 or 15, if memory serves me. I'd forgotten how good they were. I've reread The Hobbit plenty of times before, as I often rank this in my top 5 favourite books, but I'd completely forgotten about The Lord of the Rings. I think it's probably because I've watched the movies so much that the books sort of became lost in my mind.

But anyway, reading them again has reminded me of something. It's reminded me that when we're in the mood to read and we can't figure out what to read next, sometimes it's a good idea to look back at the books you've read before and to pick one out to remind you why you loved it in the first place. I'm a big believer that reading is never reading unless you reread the books you enjoyed most.

Permalink
Share post
Picture of Robert Cutillo

Assignment, Writing Competition, and a Bit of Poker

Visible to anyone in the world

I've just submitted my third assignment, and I'm glad to be rid of it. I found it much more difficult than the previous two, but I guess that was to be expected. I did have fun reading about Stalin and then Plato, however. I'm particularly drawn to logic, so reading Socrates' methods of finding truths was great. I think I'll take a break from uni work for the next couple of days.

I've entered a writing competition called the Bristol Prize. I don't think I'll win, but you've got to try I suppose. The story I submitted was only about 2,500 words, and it's about a man running away from the crimes he's committed. I'm also in the process of writing what I hope will turn out to be a book.

What else? I've been playing a bit of online poker recently. I hadn't really played for about two or three years but I fancied it one evening, and now I can't stop playing. I tend to play fixed limit games, as I find those more fun. I only play micro stakes, so I'm never in danger of losing anything more than $6, which is nice.

I don't think there's anything more to say. I'm just going to kick back and write some more of my potential book. Toodles!

Permalink
Share post
Picture of Robert Cutillo

The Disaster Artist

Visible to anyone in the world

It happened last summer. I was on YouTube, watching WatchMojo videos, when I first discovered The Room – also known as the best worst movie ever made. The scene showed Tommy Wiseau's Character, Johnny, enter a rooftop and state that he did not hit his fiance. After throwing his water bottle to the ground, he looked up and noticed his friend: 'Oh, hi, Mark.' That was all I needed.

After watching the movie, which I loved, I discovered a book had been written by Greg Sestero – the unfortunate actor who played Mark, Johnny's best friend. The book, titled The Disaster Artist, is Sestero's account of his friendship with Tommy Wiseau and the making of The Room. It is a great story of dedication to a dream, the ups and downs of a friendship, and the emotional toll making a movie can take. A great read.

Permalink
Share post
Picture of Robert Cutillo

Still Waiting

Visible to anyone in the world

I'm still waiting to hear back about my flash fiction submission, but that's expected, as usually it can take a good few weeks before hearing anything at all. In the meantime, I've been working on a short story. I've rewritten it so many times I've lost count. But I'm very happy with this version. All I need to do is finish proofreading it and then I'll submit it to some place.

As far as my second assignment is concerned, I've finished writing it and am now proofreading it. Overall, I'm happy with it.

Recently, I began doing audio transcriptions for a website called TranscribeMe. It doesn't pay well but it is fun. It means writing as well, which is good.

Not much else to write really. Hopefully, I'll have something more interesting to write next time.

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Robert Cutillo, Tuesday, 3 Apr 2018, 19:56)
Share post
Picture of Robert Cutillo

Second Assignment and Flash Fiction

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Robert Cutillo, Friday, 16 Mar 2018, 19:38

Yesterday, I received my first assignment back and I was very happy with the result. Although I didn't receive top marks, I was still proud of what I achieved (I hope this doesn't come across as too "braggy"; I don't mean it to be!). I'm going to get to working on it right away. Hopefully, I'll have it done for next week, as I want to be ahead of schedule and not be in a position where I'm rushing to get it done.

On a unrelated note, I submitted a piece of flash fiction I've been trying to get published to a website today. It's only about 800 words or so, and it's about an awkward kiss that occurs between two colleagues after their shift has ended. I'm not sure if it's that good a piece of writing, but I could always rewrite it if it keeps getting rejected.

I'm surprised flash fiction isn't more popular, actually. It's short and so can be read in no time at all. They're usually better written, too, as brevity important, so you don't get too many unnecessary words. But, unfortunately, I think some people just don't think they're worth their time. Let's hope that changes some day.

Permalink
Share post
Picture of Robert Cutillo

Mr Stalin

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Robert Cutillo, Tuesday, 13 Mar 2018, 19:02

I'm still waiting for my assignment to be returned. The wait is almost killing me. I'm very eager to know how I did and what I can improve upon in the future.

I've fallen a little bit behind the study planner, but that doesn't bother me too much. I'm currently reading up on Stalin. I can't make up my mind about whether he was a smart man or not. If he was smart, and his intention was to cost millions of lives, then he's probably more evil than we thought. If, however, he didn't plan those deaths and he genuinely believed his collectivism and other beliefs would work, then he was well and truly a moron. But does being stupid release him from being labelled "evil", or could we spare him that and instead go with "incredibly incompetent"? I say this because I wonder if you can be evil without being intelligent. I think that's an interesting idea. 

Permalink
Share post
Picture of Robert Cutillo

The Technical Stuff

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Robert Cutillo, Saturday, 3 Mar 2018, 15:38

I was planning on moving on to the next chapter in Reputations but instead decided to go back over some of the stuff on Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe. 

First, I focused on some literary devices provided by my tutor from a tutorial a couple of weeks ago: alliteration, assonance, metaphors, similes, and personification. Then I moved on to how punctuation is used within poetry and what iambic pentameter is. I was already familiar with all of these terms but it was good to go over them again.

Next, I think I'll reread parts of the chapter on Cézanne, especially the definitions of techniques used by artists.

On a different note, I'm fed up with this weather; I would like to see the sun now please!

Permalink
Share post
Picture of Robert Cutillo

Cézanne

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Robert Cutillo, Saturday, 3 Mar 2018, 11:31

I've just finished reading the chapter on Paul Cézanne in Reputations. I found most of it interesting, especially the practical aspects of paintings and the brief history on still life. I always wondered why still life paintings were such a big deal and now I know. 

Take a painting of an apple. This could be an allegory for life: when we are ripe we're at our best and most beautiful but we eventually rot away and die. It could be a religious allusion to Adam and Eve. This mixes beautifully with the allegory of life and death: once Adam and Eve ate the apple and became aware of their nakedness, God ended their time in paradise and sent them into a world where they'd inevitably die. The apple representing life and death is also philosophical, with existentialism springing to mind.

I do appreciate Cézanne's work a little bit more than I did before. At first I didn't like it. I still prefer the 'conventional' paintings, though.

Next, I'll work through the online activities related to Cézanne's chapter and see how I get on. 

Permalink
Share post
Picture of Robert Cutillo

Yikes!

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Robert Cutillo, Saturday, 24 Feb 2018, 14:38

First assignment submitted! And before the deadline too. It was a very nerve-racking ordeal though: I was paranoid I'd formatted it wrong or written something stupid. Ah well. Only time will tell now.

I've started reading the chapter on Cezanne in the AA100 book. It's proving to be an interesting read. But I think I'm more interested in the art techniques than the artist. Personally, I don't like his style. 

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Robert Cutillo, Sunday, 17 Jun 2018, 11:11)
Share post

This blog might contain posts that are only visible to logged-in users, or where only logged-in users can comment. If you have an account on the system, please log in for full access.

Total visits to this blog: 5945