Category Archives: Dissertation

To Write Well

To write well, one must write

and write often.

To write well, one must read well:

reading often and reading closely.

Storytelling is contagious –

reading will spark the fuel of your imagination.

But storytelling has also been going on for as long as mankind has existed.

You should know what’s been said and how it has been said to do it well yourself.

To write well, one must treat writing both seriously and playfully, balancing the discipline of hard work with the pleasures of creativity.

Readers only respect writers who care enough to do both with vigor.

And they can spot lazy writing from a mile away.

To write well, one must first be willing to make a lot of mistakes in the name of experimentation and practice.

Otherwise, one goes stale or repeats the same errors indefinitely.

Or worse: one might become fatally boring…to readers and to oneself.

To write well, one must be willing to share writing with others, to get a sense of how readers respond to one’s efforts.

Never forget that writing is foremost an act of communication.

And if writing is an experiment, then workshopping is a way of testing the results of it.

Again: To write well, one must really care what readers think.

Often a reader’s needs are more important than the writer’s goals in telling a story. Sometimes you have to be willing to “kill your darlings.”

Yet to write well, one must not think of writing as a slavish act of catering to one’s audience — or as mandatory homework assigned by a teacher.

Writing is something magical that originates from within:

storytelling is one of the many ways we all have of expressing ourselves and discovering ourselves.

Even in fantasy, we” write what we know”

and yet, when we are doing it right, we surprise ourselves with our own imagination.

To write well is to tell stories consciously. We’re all already fictioneers,

we’re always telling stories in our everyday lives,

whether we know it or not.

But what separates a fiction writer from an everyday storyteller, however, is a particular attention paid to crafting the language and a purposeful massaging of the core elements of narrative to produce the desired audience response…

Something emotionally resonant or truthful…


Something approaching art.

“To Write Well”

Excerpted from a syllabus for a course in

The Writing of Fiction

by Michael Arnzen, Ph.D. | Seton Hill University(


Dissertation Titles

So, the dissertation is coming along. I’ve written a second draft, changed some bits around here and there. I still don’t have a spine, but I sort of know where I’m going with it now.

I came up with some titles in the hopes that this might help me work out what it is I’m writing about.

  • Modern storytelling
  • The importance of storytelling
  • The evolution of storytelling
  • Stories, games and interactivity
  • Storytelling and interactivity
  • Interactive storytelling
  • The relationship between game and story

But these all seem to be just as vague as what I have now. Which isn’t great.

What I need to do, then, is to break apart my dissertation and put it back together. Work out what each paragraph is saying, why it’s there, and from that work out my spine. Then I’ll know what to cut and what to change and hopefully I’ll have some structure. I just need to break it apart and put it back together again.


I also need to work out my flow. I can use footnotes to great advantage here, and I should use them more. If there’s a point I need to make but it breaks up the flow of the writing, I can go back and footnote it.

Once I’ve got a decent essay, I can make it into a nice publication, make it interactive and have fun with it.

But I need the spine first.

Dissertation: The Story So Far…

I’ve written my first draft, that seems to be looking pretty good. I’ve got some good feedback on that, but I still need a bit more structure.

I bounce from paragraph to paragraph, each paragraph following on from the previous one, but there isn’t any thread linking them all together. There’s nothing running throughout, there’s no spine to it.

I need to find the central element to my dissertation, grab it and tie all my other points to it.

I’m also thinking about making it into an interactive dissertation, given that it’s about interactive storytelling. Although I’m not sure if I’ll be penalised somewhat for showing off. I know I at least want it to be nicely designed, rather than just pages of justified text like a standard, boring essay.

We’ll see. I’ve got to write it to a decent standard first.

Ten Tips to Writing – Sam Bain

1. Your first draft will never ever be your last. Unless you’re directing, producing and paying for the film or series yourself – in which case, may God have mercy on your soul. You will end up rewriting the bloody thing five, 10, 100 times. Whatever the total number of drafts you eventually reach, the only guarantee is that it will be at least two (and possibly 200) more than you thought were strictly necessary.

2. Forget point 1. When you’re writing that all-important first draft, treat it like the last draft you’ll ever write. Why? Because there’s no quicker way to kill off creativity than the thought: “That’ll do.” Pretend this weak baby gazelle of a script – spindly legs burdened by the weight of expectation, inexperience and its own tortured story logic – is the best it’s ever going to be. Give it everything you’ve got. That’s the only way it will be anywhere near good enough to earn its passage to the second round of the endless Script Olympics.

3. There are two distinct roles you must play in the writing process: writer and reader. When I’m writing I move constantly, like a shark, never reading over what I’ve written out of fear that its total awfulness will sap my self-belief and I’ll never get to the end. And getting to the end is everything. No one ever had two-thirds of a script produced (although some would argue that George Lucas achieved this not once, but three times).

4. Once a draft is done, it’s time to take off the writing hat (the racing helmet worn to protect the wearer from dangerously high typing speeds) and don the reading hat (the deerstalker in which one can comfortably absorb a good yarn). Leave as long as you can between hat-changes. It takes a generous cushion of time to forget all the great reasons why super-criminal Toby Nutkins just has to be wearing red trousers when he’s confronted by the Beagle – and see him instead as an annoying character worthy of being attacked with a hatchet and a cry of: “Who wrote this shit?”

5. Writing any script – especially your first – is an act of unparalleled arrogance. “Here I sit, Josephine Shithead, preparing to join the hallowed ranks of the Coen brothers, Lena Dunham and the guys behind the Scary Movie franchise by writing a script. A script so goddamn great it will pole-vault its way over the scripts written by all the other shitheads who think they are the real deal when in fact they are not. Whereas I, on my very first try, quite definitely am.” It is essential to be drunk on a neat shot of 100%-proof arrogance while writing. A balanced view of one’s own capabilities and the odds against success would mean the balloon of self-confidence deflating halfway through the first scene, leaving nothing but the low pathetic hiss of dead ambition.

6. But that neat shot is strictly for First Draft Guy. First Draft Guy can be as arrogant as Han Solo, but subsequent drafts need to be written with the humility of Yoda. Otherwise you’ll be just another shithead with a terrible script he thinks is great. And Lord knows we don’t need any more of those.

7. Professional writers must make friends with deadlines. But without deadlines – when no one is waiting for you to deliver your script, or frankly gives a fig whether you finish at all – you need contingencies …

8. So create artificial deadlines. Much like a six-year-old who imagines if they step on the cracks in the pavement a bear will attack them, pretend that if you don’t finish a scene by the end of the day, a bear will attack you. If you don’t find a bear attack convincing, go for a different threat. Try: “If I don’t finish this scene by 5 o’clock, I am an utter failure as a human being.”

9. Problems start when these fear tactics work too well. You find yourself typing sweatily, looking down the barrel of a lifetime of self-hate you have so enthusiastically promised yourself, unable to write anything half-decent. To work, the brain needs to be supple, not clenched. You may find that taking a walk in the park is as crucial to your creativity as banging away on a keyboard. Just as long as the walk doesn’t end in the pub/crackhouse.

10. If you are tempted to run away after all this, remember: the bear will find you. Not a metaphorical bear, the actual bear you hired me to bring round at 5 o’clock – remember?”

– Sam Bain (for The Guardian 31/7/2013)

The Closest Example I Can Think Of To A Perfect Story In Six Words

“For sale: Baby shoes . Never worn.”

– Ernest Hemingway

Dissertation Considerations: Round 2

Things to consider when writing my dissertation.

I’m having a bit of trouble writing my question, so I’m going to think about some stuff.

I want to write about Story Telling, its relevance and how it is adapting to modern technologies… There’s more to all this, but as a broad overview, and for the purposes of this article, it’s all you need to know.

Kurt Vonnegut knows what he’s on about. His writing on Story Theory is excellent, and has already helped me understand stories to a much greater depth. Good stories stand the test of time. This applies to Kurt Vonnegut’s lectures, also.

Think about Marshall McLuhan… Again… Yeah, yeah, you’ve heard it a million times before;

“The medium is the message.”

but this is relevant to what I’m talking about. Think about things like Twitter or Vine, when they came out, people thought ‘What is this? 140 characters? 6 seconds? What can you do with that?’ but in an incredibly short amount of time, less than a year in the case of Vine, people are using it effectively to tell stories. This is part of the future of storytelling.
In the case of cinema, there was worry that cinema would die out because it’s becoming too expensive, but the introduced 3D to try and coax people back in, and now they do live screenings of films, gigs and interviews and beam them to cinemas all over the world. They’re re-interpreting Cinema as a space.

I have to consider what my focus is, really zero in on my question, on what I want to write about…

  • The history of storytelling?
  • The future of storytelling?
  • The way storytelling is being reappropriated?
  • The new technologies available as a medium when telling stories?

I think I want to write about the importance of storytelling, and how it is evolving with modern technologies.

I have to look back, to the history of story, as well as to the future, and the cultural and historical context it is given. There’s a lot to consider…

Finding your Dissertation Question

What is a dissertation?

I dissertation can be used to:

  • Resolve a problem
  • Explain a phenomenon
  • Uncover a process
  • Demonstrate the truth of a fact
  • Reevaluate other studies
  • Test your own theory

You are going to do a lot of work on this. You have to be INTO your subject.

“… research questions almost invariably involve the relationship between two or more variables, phenomena, concepts, or ideas. The nature of that relationship may vary. However, the authors note that even the presence of two variables is apt to be limiting, and oftentimes it is only when a third “connecting” variable is invoked that an idea becomes researchable.”

– But I’ve never written a dissertation before: A user friendly guide for the preparation of the dissertation proposal and dissertation [available here]


To help find your question, take your main theme and combine it with two other things that could relate to it. Make a Venn diagram. This will help you find your question.


  • A proposition for consideration
  • A hypothesis
  • An argument
  • A dialectic