Sunday, October 21, 2012

October 22 Writing Challenge

Greetings! Hope you are beginning a wonderful week. This week I am borrowing some information from the Book Genome Project. According to their website (, this project “was created to identify, track, measure, and study the multitude of features that make up a book. Components such as language, character, and theme are mined and analyzed in order to sift, organize, categorize and ultimately separate one book from another in a crowded and complex ‘bookosphere.’” Basically, they research the content and make-up of books. Another website (, uses the information from the Book Genome Project to help connect readers with books the will enjoy.

I’m borrowing some of their research for you to see:

Many writers want to know how many words a publisher expects a book to be. This chart gives you an overview of the length of the average book in the Book Genome Project. The second chart on the page shows you the most common perspective (first or third person) for each book genre. Of course, you do not need to modify your style based on this information. This information can guide you, however, if you want to see what readers will expect from your book if you are writing in a particular genre.

Take a look at some of the books you are reading. Which genre do they fall into? Do the books seem to follow the average length of other books in the genre (of course, unless you look up the stats on the book somehow, you will have to guess at word count)? Do the books follow the most common perspective for the genre? This is just something fun to think about for readers and writers.

Here’s what writers have to think about when they know a word count expected of them: If you know that you need to write an article for a website or magazine that requires 600 to 850 words, can you write that many words (or that few words) about the topic or person you are considering? Some interviews or topics need more than that to be written about well. Some topics (or people interviewed) can’t fill that many words. Same thing for a novel--if you are considering a story line  can you carry it for at least 40,000 words as an average minimum for a book? Should you write a short story instead? What perspective should you write from? (By the way, we will talk more about interviewing in a future lesson.)

I have three projects for you to choose from this week:

Challenge one:

Write a 250-500 word story about two people traveling to a place new to both people. The travel can be for business or for a vacation. You can decide who the people are and where they are going. You can also decide if the characters are just in the planning stages of the trip, if they are at location, or if they both plan and travel in your story. All of the details are up to you. Write this story in third person (he, she, they). Then write the exact same story in first person (I, we, me, us). Tell me briefly which story you think is the strongest/best and why.

Challenge two:

If you want to try your hand at a novel or short story, write about the setting for your storyline. Where will the book take place? A fictional city or a real one? A rural or urban area? What time periods will the book cover? Have you researched this time period and this location? Give me at least 250 words that answer these questions.

Challenge three:

Write a book review (250 to 500 words) of a book you have read within the last three months that you enjoyed reading. Write this as if it will be published in a local paper or in an online newspaper.  This differs from an academic book report. I don’t want to know academic details about the imagery in the book, etc. I want you to tell other readers about this book. What did you like about it? Why should a reader want to read it? Who would like the book--teens, women, a particular religious group? Don’t retell the book (and never give away the ending). Do give a description and a critical analysis. What was the author’s goal (entertain, educate, inform, persuade)? Did the author achieve that goal? How did this book affect you? Do you recommend it?

Enjoy your challenges! Have a great week!

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