Group Article: How to Write in the Ransom Note Genre

I doubt any other article in the WAC Clearinghouse has tips on writing an effective ransom note. Kerry Dirk in “Navigating Genre” does and I was thinking about ransom notes as I read through his article. Granted, the ransom note is an example; no, this article gives a broad discussion on the genre. Sorry if you’re in a financial bind and need advice on writing a ransom note after kidnapping someone’s son.

Genre is an amazing concept–it gives the writer a basic structure to work with; it lets the writer focus and concentrate on what they want to say, and others have written in whatever genre the writer chooses, so they have examples to follow. That’s how a genre gets started–someone sets a precedent for everyone else . Why do our presidents give a State of the Union Address? George Washington created that genre.

And that’s one thing I take from this article: genre can be anything. Being a creative writer, I think of genre in fiction. I love fantasy and science fiction; I’ve recently started a book in the rock fiction genre (without having read any examples; I know that it involves music, and that’s all I need to know right now). Horror, romance, historical fiction, mystery–this is genre to me. When I think of nonfiction, I think of newspapers, memoirs, biographies, research essays. But then I remember the list of genres we put on the board on the first day of class and I realize everything write is a genre: Blogs? Genre. Memos? Genre. A love letter? Genre. A Facebook status update? Genre. How about text messages? Sure, we throw conventional English out the window when we text, but it is a genre.

If anything can be a genre, academia has no room for arrogance. I mean, English majors and professors can dismiss forms of writing as “non-literary”. But I say a text message can be literary. Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”? That’s literary. And what is literary anyway. Who decides what is of literary merit and what is not? I’m an English educator and should know these answers, but I don’t, yet. I just hope my future students don’t ask me until I do find out.

The most hilarious part of this article is when Kerry suggests what it would be like if we switched genres: if a newscast is a rap song and a rap song is presented as a newscast. There’s a time and place for everything–every genre has a specific purpose and for some should not cross each other. But I’m all for genre-crossing. I think I might pay attention to the news if Bruno Mars or Justin Timberlake (heck, even Justin Bieber) song news reports to me.

Maybe I’ll experiment with a genre I’ve written before. But not the ransom note. I haven’t kidnapped anyone yet.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Group Article: How to Write in the Ransom Note Genre

  1. Kuh-Leh says:

    I like the idea of everything as a genre. Genre’s are like tools. No project need one tool. You need a saw to cut the wood. Then a hammer to nail the wood. Then a brush to varnish the wood. Or paint if you like. Each color is in its own right, beautiful. But they can also blend together and make something completely new.

  2. wacrant2011 says:

    I like this genre thinking. It is a catalyst for WAC in the sense that we can find a way to make many things “writing” by grouping them into a “genre”. As usual, you have done a wonderful job explaining a great article. The comic is a very nice touch. A great WAC post! 🙂

  3. I love this post. In fact all the talk about text messages and Facebook pages remind me of the article I read, “Young People’s Everyday Literacies: The Language Features of Instant Messaging.” Within this article, the authors talked about the language being used in instant messaging as being paralinguistic. They even revealed that the sme applies to the language features of Facebook and texting. This leads me to believe that writing of any kind is good for our students and should be encouraged.

  4. scrapscribe says:

    Wonderful article! I like what wacrant was saying about how we group so many things into genre’s. That really helps up realize how literary everyday things are like status updates or tweets. I even had a student this week citing a tweet from a famous person. How intertextual is that?! The only hangup I have with making so many genres is you run the risk of making things so specialized it kills the intertextuality. There is a fine line between between specialized and being all by yourself, haha.

  5. Great post on genre. It gave me some things to think about genre when I write.

  6. Love this post on the Kerry Dirk chapter–one of my favs in Writing Spaces… nice run down of what you think and what it’s about. Of course, I love genres, so I’m on the bandwagon already, but still… a great post that generated good conversation (like scrapescribe’s comment).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s