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notes

Page history last edited by Laura Gibbs 1 year, 11 months ago

 

Notetaking Strategies

 

I would encourage you to explore at least one new notetaking strategy each week in at least one of the your reading posts. If you decide that a strategy is useful for you, then you can incorporate it into your regular notetaking routine in future weeks. That way, by the end of the semester, you will have developed your own personal style for taking notes, focusing on what is most useful for you in your own writing.

 

There are enough suggestions below that you will be able to explore at least one new strategy every week, and you could even try a new strategy in every post if you want. Plus, you might come up with totally different notetaking styles based on your own interests as a reader and/or as a writer. Let me know if you find a style that works for you, and I can add it to this list for others to try! :-)

 

FOCUS ON PLOT / CHARACTER / SETTING:

 

Find the specific elements you might want to re-use in creating your own story:

 

  • Focus on Plot. Look for surprises, suspense, and twists in the plot — the plot elements that really grab your attention. What is the single most important event in the plot as you see it? Is there some gap in the plot that you want to fill in your version of the story? Something dissatisfying about the plot you want to change?

 

  • Focus on One Character. Find the one character who is the most fascinating to you for whatever reason, and focus your notes completely on that character, thinking about how you can re-imagine that character in your own retelling of the story. Do you want to keep the characters identity the same? Or do you want to change it in some way? (gender flip? add magical powers? etc. etc.)

 

  • Character Charting. Pick two or three attributes and list those for several different characters. For example, you could pick several characters and look at their "greatest strength" and "greatest weakness" — or you could list their "greatest hope" and "greatest fear," and so on. Using a feature to create a kind of character chart will help you see the character contrasts and similarities more clearly, and that should give you some good ideas for character development in your version of the story.

 

  • Character Nicknames or Adjectives/Epithets. Another character-focused strategy would be to give each character a name to remember them by, a kind of nickname (instead of Oedipus Rex, Oedipus the Mixed-Up Rex; instead of Lady Macbeth, Lady Don't-Mess-With-Me Macbeth), or an adjective that goes with their name; these adjectives, sometimes called epithets, are a common feature in Greco-Roman epic and also in ancient Indian Epic, for example: the goddess Dawn is Rosy-Fingered Dawn, for example, and the god Shiva is Blue-Throated Shiva, etc. If you make up your own nicknames or epithets, you will remember the characters more vividly.

 

  • Hollywood Casting. As you take notes about each of the main characters, think about who you would want to play that character in the movie or TV version of the story, and quickly explain the basis for each casting decision. 

 

  • Focus on Setting. Visualize the setting in your mind's eye as you are reading. What details does the storyteller give you that help you to imagine the setting? What details do you have to add from your own imagination? Take notes that will help you recreate the setting as you imagine it in your story.

 

FOCUS ON STYLE:

 

As you learn to "read like a writer," you will be able to develop your own writing style by becoming more aware of stylistic elements in the stories you are reading:

 

  • Beautiful Sentences. When you notice a sentence that is really beautiful, copy the sentence into your notes and try to figure out exactly what makes the sentence so successful. Is it a sentence-writing strategy that you can imitate?

 

  • Point of View. Third-person style allows the storyteller to give you the point of view of different characters. As you read, keep track of the shifting point of view, and take notes to help you remember how the storyteller shapes the point of view (sharing the characters' thoughts indirectly, directly quoting their words and/or thoughts, seeing through their eyes, etc.). What point of view do you think you will want to use when you retell the story?

 

  • Dialogue. Writing dialogue is something that many writers find intimidating. When you see good dialogue in a story, figure out what you like about it and how you can use that same approach when you write dialogue.

 

  • Action Writing. Another difficult type of writing is action writing, using words to visualize a fast-moving scene with lots of action. When you find good action writing, take notes on how the storyteller is able to bring the action to life in words so that you can learn to do the same in your writing.

 

  • Starting a Story. Getting a story started can be really hard. When you read a story that has what you consider to be a strong start, takes notes about that: how does the storyteller get the story going, and how can you imitate that strategy in your own storytelling?

 

  • Ending a Story. Likewise with endings: when you find a story with a strong ending, take notes and see if you can use those notes to give your story a really strong ending also.

 

  • Repetition. Repetition is one of the hallmark features of traditional myths and legends. Keep an eye out for the different kinds of repetition you see in the stories you are reading, and think about how you can make repetition an effective part of your storytelling style.

 

FOCUS ON CONTENT

 

I am a very curious person, so I am always looking things up as I read!

 

  • Wikipedia. Wikipedia is an amazing source of information! So, if there is something that the reading refers to which you do not understand or which you are not certain about, then look it up at Wikipedia, and include that link in your notes.

 

  • Google Dictionary. It is very easy to look up words at Google! Just as "define" to the Google search. So, for example, if the reading refers to a ziggurat, just look it up: ziggurat define.

 

  • Etymology. You can also deepen your understanding of words by looking at the etymology. I look up word etymologies every day at etymonline.com, or you can just add etymology to a Google search: ventriloquist etymology.

 

  • Geography. If there is a geographical reference, look it up at Wikipedia to find out just where it is.

 

  • Google Maps. Alternatively, you can look up a place at Google Maps to see it on a map. For example: Ayodhya, India.

 

  • Map Directions. Is there a journey in the reading? You can look at the journey on Google Maps by getting directions from one place to another, like when Rama goes from Ayodhya to Janakpur in Nepal where Sita lives: Ayodhya, India to Janakpur, Nepal.

 

  • Names. Names often have meaning! I always start by looking up a name at Wikipedia; it is usually more useful than the generic baby-names websites. For example: George article in Wikipedia.

 

  • Author. You can look up the author of the book you are reading from to see what you can learn at Wikipedia. It often helps to learn more about the author's life and interests.

 

  • Illustrator. Does your reading selection come from a book with illustrations by a specific illustrator? If so, you can look up the illustrator at Wikipedia to see what you can learn about them. 

 

FORMATTING YOUR POST

 

Another way you can make your post more useful is by using different formatting options:

 

  • Bold and Italics. If you have not been using bold and/or italics in your notetaking posts, see if that is helpful! (You'll know if that worked when you go to revisit the post later in the week to get ready to write your story.)

 

  • Font Color and Highlighting. You can change the color of the fonts you use in your post, and you can also use highlighting; font color and highlighting are next to each other in the Blogger text editing menu bar. 

 

  • Spacing. Are you using spacing effectively in your notes posts? Think about how you are double-spacing and triple-spacing between the chunks of content in your post. The white space can really help you focus when you revisit the post later.

 

  • Lists. Some people find it really helpful to use bulleted lists and/or numbered lists in their posts. Both options are available in the Blogger text editor.

 

  • Section Headings. Especially if you write long posts, you can experiment with headings and subheadings to keep the post organized. You can use bold and/or all-caps, or you can use the built-in heading and subheading format options in the Blogger editing menu.

 

  • Link Text. When you create links in your posts, use link text so that you know exactly where the link goes (for example: Wikipedia article about Shiva). Having links in posts is always valuable, and if you use specific link text when you create those links, you will be able to make good use of those links later on.

 

I hope you will find some good strategies here to expand your approach to notetaking in this class, and if you have some other ideas I can add to this list, let me know!

 

 

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