• Lab: Tanka and Renga (Beyond Haiku)
    Tanka and Renga poems are derived from ancient Japanese forms, and are related to the Haiku.

    Tanka poems are similar to Haikus in form--in fact, the first three lines of a Tanka follow the same format, five sllyables-seven syllables-five syllables. The Tanka varies from the Haiku because of the final two lines. Tanka poems end with two seven-syllable lines, making the format: five, seven, five, seven, seven (by syllables per line).

    Renga poems take this syllable pattern a step further. Rengas are collaborative pieces in which one writer starts off with a "five-seven-five" stanza, followed by a second writer adding a "seven-seven" stanza. This pattern repeats, sometimes to as many as one thousand stanzas!

    If you're doing this lab alone, try a "han-kasen" renga: 18 total stanzas. Working with friends? Try for the full kasen, composed of 36 stanzas.

    Click here for more information and guidance on Tanka and Renga poems!

  • Lab: Haiku and Beyond
    The Haiku is one of the most widely-practiced poetry forms both in English-speaking populations, and world-wide. It is a short form, without a rhyme scheme, and is derived from a Japanese form--all things that may have an influence on its popularity.

    Haiku poems follow the simple "five-seven-five" format. That is, three lines, the first with five syllables, the second with seven syllables, and the third with five syllables.

    These short poetic compositions aren't meant to rhyme, or even complete a sentence, necessarily. In the Japanese tradition, they were often centered around tiny observations in the natural world. Poets would sit together in a tranquil and beautiful natural environment, and pick a specific detail or moment to expound on. Often, the poems produced would lead to longer compositions such as Tanka and Renga poems.

    Find your moment, and share it here.

    Click here for more information and examples.

  • Lab: Hidden Message Poem
    The Hidden Message Poem is a fun and creative way to hide a message in plain sight--within a poem!

    There are many different ways to sneak a message into your poem, but one of the easiest ways is to drop one word from your message into each line.
    First, come up with the message you want to convey, and write it vertically--one word on each line.
    Next, come up with the substance of your poem. How does it connect with the hidden message? Is it related? Ironic? Reinforcing?
    Fill your poem in, with the hidden message as either the first word or last word of each line. To an unsuspecting reader, it will just look like a normal poem. But you'll know...

    Click here for more guidance, examples, and ideas!

  • Lab: Basics of Editing in Audacity
    This lab is a follow up to the Lab: Record your Voice. You will need: a computer with Audacity installed; an audio file of your own creation.

    In this lab, you'll learn the basics of editing your sound file with Audacity. After recording a piece of audio you will be able to navigate the Effects menu, apply basic effects, and use some of the more complex ones as well. You will be able to: change the volume of a track, delete unwanted sections, fade-in and -out, and remove background noise.

    By the end of the lab, you'll have a high-quality, edited audio recording to upload here. Click here for more detailed instruction!

  • Lab: Redacted Poetry
    Redacted Poetry, also known as Black Out Poetry, is a fun and creative way to repurpose a piece of writing. All we need to accomplish this lab is a dark writing utensil (black marker works best) and a selection of newspaper clippings. The point of Redacted Poetry is to use the words in the newspaper clipping as your jumping off point. Simply put, you use the marker to "black out" all of the words that you don't need, and leave only the words that tell your story. When you're finished, the substance of the newspaper article may very well be completely lost. But that's ok. You've given it a new, better meaning.

    Feel free to snap a picture of your poetry and upload it in your response. You can also type up your poem in your response.

    Click here for explanations, tips, and examples!

  • Lab: Record Your Voice
    In this lab you will record and export audio using Audacity. You will need: an internet connection, a computer with a mic, & headphones so you don’t annoy the crap out of anyone around.

    Audacity is a free audio recording software. Download and install Audacity from http://audacityteam.org/download/ (Choose the latest version and follow the prompts to install.)

    Also download and install LAME MP3 encoder, which is under Optional Downloads on that same page. LAME turns Audacity files (.aup) into mp3s, which are smaller and more versatile.

    Now you are ready to open audacity and start recording! For more information and guidance, click here!

  • Lab: Opening Lines and Passing on the Passive
    Avoid weak, wordy, passive constructions, and maximize your use of concise, powerful language.

    “You will never encounter a situation in which obfuscation is to your advantage.” -Chris Peterson (MIT Admissions)

    In nearly all types of writing, getting your point across directly, simply, and without confusion is a huge success. Some things get in the way of your ability to express yourself clearly and concisely. One of the biggest culprits robbing you of your clarity is the passive voice. What is the passive voice? The difference is simple; with the active voice, your subject is doing something. In the passive voice, something is being done to your subject. Think, "the light was turned off by him," versus, "he turned the light off." One has more zing to it.

    For this lab, we're going to practice using the active voice to create three powerful first lines. Introduce us to your story with a strong, active statement. Start your story off right, with some action! Click here for more explanation and examples.

  • Lab: Planning Ideas
    Planning before you start makes your writing more clear, powerful, and easy! Let's take a look at a couple of different ways to plan your writing.

    Read through the seven different types of outline and find a structure that suits your style and story. Depending on how much of your story you already have floating around your head, you may want to use one method or another. When reading through the different types of outlines, did you find yourself filling in details from your own story? Which method made sense to you? Note which type you want to use, or if you created your own style.

    Latch onto one of the seven types of outline and follow through with it. Start with your basic idea, and then organize some possibilities around that, until you have a basic storyline. This is even more sparse than a first draft. Get some ideas down, and piece them together later. Make sure you make it through to the end of your story, even if you have to leave some gaps throughout. We’ll help you work through those gaps.

    Feel free to work on paper, and upload a photo.

  • Lab: Setting

    This lab is intended to help you think about setting and how that can play into, shape or lead your story. Is it a character, even?
    Take a look at this photo and listen to the sound file. Does it give you an idea of a story? Focus on the details and describe what is around you, around the characters. Push it a bit, see if characters come to mind and give them a back story in this environment. Use the hashtag: #setting
    If this photo doesn't do it for you, get your own picture (and sound?) and create a story that is centered on the setting.

  • Lab: Dialogue

    The first challenge is to write the story of a conversation WITHOUT using dialogue, emphasizing the characters and the situation. Jot down the things that happen around the words. Here's an example. Tag your response #dialogue1.

    The second challenge is a quick write. Use the characters you just developed in the first challenge, or start anew: Create a dialogue between two characters in which you use NO descriptions; don't tell us the gender or the relationships. However, give us enough information in the exchange that helps us understand the gender, the relationships, the conflict that is emerging. Tag your response #dialogue2.

    Check out the Writing Dialogue page for a walk-through, tips and explanations.

    This piece was created by jaga, a digital artist who sometimes mentors on YWP. What do you think?

    He says reluctance. He says void. from jaga n.a. argentum on Vimeo.