Saturday, October 31, 2009

how to write good geography

Here I am, disguised as Mooninpapa, writing away all weekend trying to finish Finland by Monday.

At this point, I'm glueing statistics together, using the words and phrases below, so they resemble prose.
I put this list together a while ago, inspired by Michael O'Donoghue's list of "The Ten Magic Phrases of Journalism" from his funny article
How to Write Good. (Highly recommended.)

Mix and Match Terms to Fit Your Assigned Country

Chapter 1: The Land
use freely: third-largest, concerns, devastating, poisonous; snow-, forest-, sand-covered; seeks to protect
the equator
the North/South Pole
glaciers carved...
the movement of tectonic plates
the power of rushing water
home to...
vast/towering [fill in landform]
world's largest [rodent/stinky flower/salt flat]

Chapter 2: The Past
use freely: historians believe; settled, waves of, struggle, flared, sparked, raged, conflict, desperation, in response, met with, crushed, oversee, overcome, hope that in the future...
[never, ever say: murdering bastard]

stone tools
rock art
invasions (horseback, sail, foot)
superior (resources, technology, aim)
dictatorships (Latin America)
under foreign rule (everywhere but Britain)
long shadows
forced labor
civil war
worldwide depression
harsh rule

Chapter 3: The People
use freely: inadequate, concern, struggle to supply, seeks to improve, proud of, government budget, hope that in the future...
[avoid: "tragically, alas, unluckily, I want to puke"]

ethnic groups
mostly peaceful
malaria, AIDS, tuberculosis, dysentery, schistosomiasis (don't look)--or---cancer, heart attacks, bad stress management, unhealthy lifestyles
before their fifth birthday
less available in rural areas
traditional healers
colorful folk dances
hearty dishes

Chapter 4: The Economy and the Future
use freely: plummeted, rose, increased, fell, predominant, declined, attracted, lost

farming (slash-and-burn, subsistence, cooperative, corporate)
factories (lungs, water, GDP)
tourism (eco-)
human trafficking
interest rates
women and children
hard work
bright future (United States & Co.)
brighter future (sub-Saharan Africa, et al.)


momo said...

Wow. There are people who create widgets that allow you to generate text this way (apology letters, for example).

Is there a class of words that the Finns use in their Welcome to Finland type things like plucky, blond, consonants, not swedish, sauna?

Rudyinparis said...

Fresca, this is breathtaking! I would only add, to The Past--the Great Depression. When I was indexing, I was amazed at how the Depression appears *in nearly every index I made*--no matter the topic. A good lesson; it made me realize the extent of this event on our psyche. Oh, and the Civil War would be a close second.

But, seriously--this list is so great! I wish you could publish it to a wider audience and that they would get it. Unfortunately, the reader needs to be very familiar with lerner's books. A pretty small niche.


Fresca said...

MOMO: Hm. Actually, I think the e-Finns must work hard to avoid that because, no, actually I'm not encountering a ton of catch phrases.

Thanks, RIP.
This is basically an index to every geography book in the series, isn't it?!
I am adding Great Depression and Civil War. When I was a kid, I thought it was just us, but everybody has a civil war.

deanna said...

I'll bet this had you laughing, because it must relate so well to what you do. I've been greatly enjoying learning about Finland. Now I've just caught up, backward, with your latest posts. Thanks for each one!

Fresca said...

Hi, Deanna!
I'm glad you enjoyed learning about Finland. I sure have been. Though I've missed having time/energy to write my own stuff, it's good to get out of one's usual sphere of knowledge.

Did you read "How to Write Good"? (Is that what you meant must have made me laugh? It sure did!)