Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Two in Tow--Using a Venn Diagram

Week of November 20: Grateful for a Few More Writing Ideas
Wednesday, November 23: Two in Tow—Using a Venn Diagram

Mash-ups are the hottest thing in music these days. A mash-up is when a musician (or a techy) blends together two or more pre-recorded songs by overlaying the tracks to create a new musical experience. (If you still don’t understand, watch an episode of Glee!) A Venn diagram (another one of those old-timey teaching tools) can help you mash together to seemingly unrelated topics to come up with something new.

A Venn diagram is made up of two intersecting circles. The graphic organizer is usually used to compare and contrast two items. You write in one circle all the unique characteristics of one item; in the second circle you list everything unique about the second item; and in the center/intersection you write the things both items have in common. Let me try to mash-up a couple of holiday pies in a Venn diagram to illustrate what I mean.

So how can a Venn diagram help writers? Well, imagine if I have an idea about time-traveling pilgrims whose calculations are off by a month and they end up visiting Halloween 2011 instead of Thanksgiving in the 1600s. (Not exactly a picture book concept perhaps, but play along with me here!) I could use Venn diagrams to compare and contrast the 1600s and present-day American, pilgrims and trick-or-treaters, and Halloween and Thanksgiving. By doing so, I’ll discover new ideas that I can mash-up into a story.

From this Venn diagram I decided that my pilgrims travel in time in a pumpkin. When they arrive in 2011, they think some kids in Indian costumes are actually related to their Native American friends and start following them around. They are shocked to taste candy corn—nothing like the corn crops they produce. Ok, it’s a wacky idea, but you can see how the Venn diagram could help you mash-up two different ideas or concepts and come up with something news.

Happy mashing!

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