Sunday, September 28, 2014

Excerpt From My Short Story

I am writing a short story for the Creative Writing Club at my school. It's a SciFy narrative about a woman who is implanted with alien DNA that gives her telekinesis (the ability to move objects with her mind).

Here is a short excerpt:

I wake up in a solitary confinement cell with 13 gun barrels orbiting my head and a dark silhouette speaking through a muffled mic, "We come in peace. Teach us your ways and we might spare your life." A droplet of water trickles down my cheek. Not a tear. Saltwater from my waterboarding. I follow it down to the 3 inch thick,black, copper wires wrapped around my electric chair, the same chair that has my elastic underwear already melted to it from the voltage that they passed through me which coincidentally would have been able to power New York for a winter. The only reason I was still alive was that I, unbeknownst to my captors, had been telekinetically moving the electrons of my torture away from my heart so as to allow my pacemaker to continue to pump the 3 liters of blood that were left in my body. The other 2 were already staining the floor and chair.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Lost Art of Our Generation: The Conversation

While the answer isn't so black and white, one very useful skill while making/maintaining any kind of relationships with other people is to be a good listener.

What Good Are Good Listeners?

Well, the logical reasoning is quite simple:
  • 1. Everyone has an opinion about something. Sports. Favorite books. Legitimacy of unicorns. You name it. In addition,
  • 2. People have an inherent, innate need for self-expression. It is an aspect of human nature, so nobody is an exception. Therefore,
  • 3. The easiest way for people to express themselves is through voicing their opinions. However,
  • 4. There are more talkers than listeners in the world. Everybody wants to be heard, but no one wants to hear anyone else's thoughts. Hence,
  • 5. There is a low supply (and therefore high demand) of attentive listeners who will care about what the speaker has to say. Put simply
  • 6. Listening to what others have to say is a direct way of showing that you care about another person.
  • 7. I mean, who doesn't want a little extra care in their life. Right?

How Do I Start?

  • Start by allowing the other person to lead the conversation. 
  • Let their train of thought gain steam. The more the other person talks out loud, the more his/her ideas will make sense to the both of you. And people absolutely l.o.v.e. when they can get their point across to someone else. 
  • Ask intelligent and discussion-provoking questions. Try to see where the person might not have elaborated enough and ask them to explain that. 
  • Nod or give some other small signal of confirmation that you are following their thought process.
  • Stop them anytime you start to drift off. Stay focused and really try to understand the other person's point of view.

  • Ask them about anything they've said already talked about. They will just fell like they are repeating themselves and that you are not paying attention.
  • Change the subject too rapidly. That will make the conversation feel to broad and pointless.
  • Start talking about yourself. Keep the conversation about the other person. He/she will feel more appreciated if someone (you) would talk about them for a change.
  • Don't flatter the person too much. They will get bored eventually.
  • Don't neglect the person for too long. They will feel forgotten.

Don't Overdo It

Really, there are no solid, black lines. It honestly very much depends on the your specific case. Find a healthy balance between focus, connection, yourself, the other person, and topic of choice. You know better than I ever will what your conversation partner wants to hear, so go with your gut.

When To Quit

If you find that you cannot maintain a conversation with a person for more than 30 seconds or you just keep going back to the same old clichés, perhaps you could ease off a bit. If you can't find mutual interests, you will have a very frustrating experience trying to find a topic for conversation. "Let go" of the person for a while. His/her interests will change; your interests will change. With luck, eventually, your interests will cross paths, and everything will be a lot smoother. But, perhaps, your interests will never cross. In that case, it maybe just wasn't meant to be. There are still many, many interesting and engaging people out there that you don't even know exist. You just have to find them.


Try to imagine the other person complexly. Figure out your needs and his/her needs, and find a balance. Your gut (or better, your heart) will know what to do. And if your heart is wrong, your head will learn from the mistakes. =)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Arguably the Most Effective Rhetorical Device EVER

Rhetorical devices are elements of writing that authors use to convey a meaning or a feeling. Similes, repetition, imagery, and foreshadowing all fall into this category. However, in my opinion, there is one that stands out as the most powerful and potent rhetorical device: the metaphor.

What exactly is a metaphor?

Metaphors are pretty simple to understand. You compare one idea or concept to another idea/concept. Then, you explain the link between the two. An easy example is:  "You filthy pig! Clean your room. You do lay around in your slop and make not an oink to fix it!" Here, the person being spoken to is being compared to a filthy pig. Likewise, the person's room is being compared to a trough of slop (mud). Lastly, the fact that the person will do nothing is compared to not making 'an oink'.

So what's the big deal?

The unique thing about metaphors is that everybody likes metaphors because metaphors are the way the human brain thinks. People make connections to new experiences by comparing and relating them to past experiences in a symbolic way. Therefore, a particularly good metaphor allows the reader to tie in many known experiences to better understand exactly how the author is feeling. After all, no one will how the author feels better than the author (duh.) But, an author can make his/her experiences more real to the reader by including vividly symbolic metaphors that will help the reader imagine the situation more clearly.

And that is the purpose of language in itself:  To make our experiences more real to others and vice versa. 

One last example

Say, for instance, in The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini wants to portray how the character Amir feels that he and his father, Baba, do not have a strong father-son bond, but flying kites is one activity that they both enjoy.

One way to put this is: 

"Baba and I live together, but flying kites is the only thing we like to do together."

Whereas Hosseini puts it: 

"Baba and I lived in the same house, but in different spheres of existence. Kites were the one paper-thin slice of intersection between those spheres (Hosseini,52)."

As you can see, the difference is as wide and noticeable as the horizon of the Caribbean Sea. =)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Dating Advice, Friend Zone, and Friendship

Below is a video playlist with advice on how to handle relationships featuring John Green, Hank Green, and VSauce's Michael Stevens.

In reality, I just put as many popular search words as possible in the title to see how many people would actually visit my blog, and although this is sort of cheating =} it just goes to prove that the Internet is a wonderful place where people can look for information and people like me can help them find it. And, in my opinion, that is a beautiful thing.

P.S. The videos are actually truly helpful. It's like the 3 most teen-understanding YouTubers on Earth. It has to be good. =)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Paradox of Writing and Life Sandwiches

In my last post, I mentioned how you should write as much as possible. Now, I am going to argue against that point.

Write for yourself as much as you want. You will always be interested in what you have to say. Other people, however, are rarely interested in everything you have to say. And who can blame them? Nobody's interests match up 100%, and matches over 50% are basically soul mates. As a result, if you really want people to listen to you, make your writing count.

Choose Wisely

Writing that you share with others should be a near final draft version. You need time as well as trial and error to organize your thoughts in a coherent fashion that will be easy for other to understand. If your writing is just your first try or even just listed thoughts, no one will be able to derive meaning from your work, and the whole purpose of your endeavor goes down the drain. Likewise, people don't have the time of day to baby-sit you, correcting your work. That's what parents are for.


Ok, so far, I have been pretty aggressive of showcasing only your best work. That doesn't mean to wait years before texting back your friend's,"Wat up?". When you are fortunate enough to have someone's attention, that person expects a response from you: ASAP. And with modern social media apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and Vine, people have access to lighting quick entertainment and information. Thus, the attention span of the average person has declined rapidly. If you can't give them what they want, someone else on the web will much faster. So, don't postpone. Strive for perfection, but settle for decency.

Life Sandwiches

I like to use the example of "life sandwiches". Think of everything that you share with the world as sandwiches. If you give people too many sandwiches, they will be full and discard any future sandwiches you give them, even if it's the best sandwich you ever made, because the quality-to-quantity ratio is just too small. On the other hand, if you don't feed your audience often enough, you will eventually give them the sandwich of the century, and they will take it in one bite...and then ask for more. You will argue that you just recently gave them the fruit of your endless labor, but they will shake their head and say, "Life goes on, and I need more sandwiches. Either I get my sandwiches from you, or I move on to someone else."

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Write to Save Your Life


Writing about your experiences as they are happening to you is one of the most valuable tools you can master. 

The benefits of writing about current experiences are many, but to name a few:
  • helps you organize your thoughts
  • allows you to vividly describe memories
  • encourages you to share your thoughts and ideas
  • acts as a form of self-expression
  • gives you a perspective of yourself

I would like to elaborate on the last two.


Throughout your life, you will have to be able to describe your observations to other people. Communication: it's the key trait that separates humans from chimps. (No wonder essays are so important on the SAT). The better you express yourself to those surrounding you, the better you will convey your message. Writing, therefore, is more important now than in any point in human history, and practicing it is even more vital. 

Different emotions require different types of writing. A résumé requires quick, to-the-point information in as little text as possible. A poem to a lover, on the other hand, is prized for its attention to detail and its figurative language. Hence, you must practice all types of writing for all types of purposes. 

In most cases, however, you will be conveying information from your perspective: your observations. As such, you need to develop your own unique writing style that best formulates your thoughts and best associates with your character. You will find (and I noticed this of myself as well) that you will use about 20% of the same vocabulary in every text that you write, simply because those are the words that first come to mind. 

What should you take from this? Be yourself while you write; your message will best associate with you that way.

Perspective of Self

Memories fade. Blogs don't. When you write about what you are feeling, you will be able to look back at yourself in 5 years, 1 year, or even just a couple months and reflect on how you have grown since then.

Nobody know more about you than yourself. Hence, you are your own best critic and life coach. Don't be afraid to let the pen fly(or keyboard nowadays) and really articulate your emotional state. Vent it out. Let loose all the emotions that you have, but be sure to keep any negative ones private as it may be too soon to let someone else know just how you feel. 

Until a person fully develops by age 25, their pre-frontal cortex is still developing. This is the part of the brain that puts reason before emotional irrationality. As a result, it may be better to keep your most emotional writings private for a while, then look back at them later and decide if it is reasonable to share.

Remember, writing doesn't have to be a fruitless endeavor; you can write to understand yourself and to help other better understand you.