Introduction to the Daily article

Going into Experiment 3, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do. I felt really great about my open letter last time around, and I wasn’t sure how to follow that up with a new idea. My original plans were to write a photo essay about certain works by Manuel Alvarez Bravo (he is the photographer of the image I analyzed in my origin piece). After researching that a bit, I had difficulty articulating my thoughts about each photograph and how they related to one another. I could not think of a way to move forward after that. Well, at least until I saw Julie’s comments during my workshop. She suggested figuring out my explicit audience for the open letter and writing an article based on what that person/organization was doing (or failing to do) about the current state of mental illness on the Michigan campus. I thought about doing a news report, but that seemed too broad for me. So I decided to do the next best thing, one that is directly tied into University of Michigan’s lifestyle: the Daily article.

Now, I’m not a writer for the Daily, so I am unfamiliar with how they do things over there. So, instead of researching typical conventions of the Daily article (not even sure that exists), I decided to read a few political pieces of the Daily to see how student writers would go about tackling those sorts of issues. The first thing I noticed was the episodic framing of each article. The authors usually insisted on basing the article around a personal anecdote or story of a student or faculty member. I’m not sure how I would go about talking to faculty members if this were my final project, but let’s take things one step at a time. Next, there was a consistent theme of policy focus. Each article not only referenced specific policies that the University has instated, but also discusses how faculty and staff fail to adhere to these policies/ what would be done differently if the policy was followed correctly.

Those are the main conventions I noticed in the articles I read. If anyone actually works for the Daily (or knows someone who does), let me know. I’d love to hear their experiences! Also, I’m pretty tired right now, so please enjoy this picture of some puppies!


Intro to the Open Letter

As each day passes, formal letters are becoming more and more obsolete. The process of writing a letter, mailing it out to someone, and waiting for a response isn’t a common practice anymore now that social media exists. Open letters, on the other hand, have a much more relevant place in modern day society. They are different than a regular letter because they are meant to address a broader audience. While open letters could be addressed to a specific person, there is always an underlying message that the author wants a wider audience to understand. My relationship with open letters started freshman year in the typical English 125 classroom. For one assignment, we had to write an open letter to the author of one of the essays we had read for class. It was framed as being a wake-up call to the broader society, addressing some real-world problem and brainstorming solutions for said problem. My final product, however, looked more like a argumentative essay I would have written for AP English Language class in high school. It didn’t have a broad scope and it didn’t call anyone to action either. That’s what made me want to revisit the open format- I wanted to write something that would actually accomplish something outside the classroom.

Open letters are a bit more complicated to write than regular letters. For one thing, they’re supposed to be concise and to the point. According to several open letter authors, conviction is a key component of this genre since most people don’t have the time or patience to read through some super long letter about some problem that might not even relate to them. It’s also important to have a general understanding of your audience so that you don’t come off as aggressive or condescending. You need to find a common ground where people take you seriously enough to actually do something about the problem you’re describing. With my origin piece focusing heavily on mental health, I think that the open letter format would help me frame the issue in a way that makes people want to take action and end stigma.

Introduction to the Horror Genre

I have decided to write in the horror genre for my first experiment. I found this genre interesting mainly because of the context of my piece. I had to do a visual analysis for an English 225 essay, and the photograph I used evoked a strong feeling of terror. One of the first ideas I wanted to explore was how to write a horror story without using the clichés that have been done over and over again. However, as I researched more into it, several sources claimed that it is perfectly normal to use those clichés- that is, if you do it in a way that is unconventional and fresh. Part of this involved drawing from your own personal experiences and moving on from there. In my essay, I wrote about how Manuel Alvarez Bravo’s Threshold communicated a stronger argument about the current mental health crisis. As someone who has experienced mental health problems in the past, the idea of fleshing out my struggles and expanding on them in my writing was extremely compelling. Anne Rice, an author of the horror genre, explains that horror is more believable when the author is invested in both their truth and the continuing relevance of that truth.

One of my favorite horror novels is Stealing Shadows by Kay Hooper. It is a murder mystery with a clever twist- the main detective Cassie Neill is a psychic. She can enter a killer’s mind and see through their eyes. However, if the killer can “sense” her presence inside his mind, he can “trap” her in there so she cannot escape. The main reason that this novel was so interesting to me was its incredible unpredictability. I was never 100% certain on any theory I made as the plot progressed. It gave the sensation of being out of control, a common but effective method in the horror genre. The common theme of psychic mind tricks also proved to be both thought provoking and genuinely terrifying, and I think it would be cool to incorporate similar themes as I experiment with this piece.

Manuel Alvarez Bravo’s Threshold-This is the photograph I analyzed for my original essay. It still gives me an ominous vibe and that was what prompted me to write in the horror genre!
Stealing Shadows by Kay Hooper- The constant theme of mental manipulation in this novel was really interesting. It gave me a creative lens to explore how the mind works and I think that ties into my original argument about the importance of mental health.

Here are my sources!

How to write a horror story: 6 terrific tips

The Horror Genre: On Writing Horror and Avoiding Clichés

Caroline Yardley introduction

These are my 2 dogs Ben and Teddy! Ben is a golden retriever (left) and Teddy is a mix of Australian shepherd, terrier, and cocker spaniel (right). They are my best friends and I love them so much!

Hi! My name is Caroline Yardley and I’m a junior studying Communications.  I’m still not sure what I want to do for a career, but right now I’m thinking of doing something with journalism. Some of my hobbies include writing (obviously!), singing, reading (I’m reading the Harry Potter series for the first time and I’m on book 6!), and finding good restaurants in Ann Arbor. I am also involved in several student orgs such as Young Life, Wolverine Support Network, and Arts Chorale! I’m so excited to see what the Minor in Writing has in store!