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7 Lessons (43m)
    • 1. Lecture #1: Writing (Smart) About Pop Culture (4:34)

      4:33
    • 2. Lecture #2: Analyzing Good Examples of Pop Culture Writing (9:51)

      9:50
    • 3. Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted (2:22)

      2:21
    • 4. Mary Tyler Moore Show: Three Things You Didn't Know (2:53)

      2:52
    • 5. Lecture #3: Dos and Don'ts of Pop Culture Writing (10:01)

      10:00
    • 6. Lecture #4a: Taking Pop Culture Writing to Book Level (9:49)

      9:48
    • 7. Lecture #4b: Taking Your Pop Culture Writing to Book Level (3:11)

      3:10

Project Description

Write + share your own pop culture essay, blog post, or article

Writing (Smart) About Pop Culture

  1. Watch videos

    Watch videos

Writing Your Pop Culture Piece

  1. ... Determine what you're most passionate about in pop culture and in terms of a broader message. Do

    ... Determine what you're most passionate about in pop culture and in terms of a broader message. Do you know a scary amount about hip hop, or sci-fi shows, or romantic comedies? Do you care deeply about women's rights, racial issues, or the environment? Look for places these multiple interests intersect. For instance, I write a lot about feminism in pop culture, as evidenced by shows like Girls and The Mary Tyler Moore Show or pop music from Beyonce and Taylor Swift.

  2. Read up on your topics and find a timely angle. If a show is coming out or an album is dropping, you

    Read up on your topics and find a timely angle. If a show is coming out or an album is dropping, you have a timely hook for the piece. If an issue is in the news -- whether it's gay marriage coming before the Supreme Court or the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination -- that's also a timely angle.

  3. Read up on the topic and figure out what unique point of view you can add to the discussion. Combini

    Read up on the topic and figure out what unique point of view you can add to the discussion. Combining this "thesis statement" and your timely hook will give you the core of your piece.

  4. Gather evidence to support your argument. This could mean digging up statistics, finding other piece

    Gather evidence to support your argument. This could mean digging up statistics, finding other pieces to link to or quote in the piece, or interviewing those involved. Basically, this is reporting.

  5. Outline your piece using this very basic formula (or a variation on it):

    Outline your piece using this very basic formula (or a variation on it):

    • You'll start with a lead: That is, an attention-grabbing beginning. Notice how other writers you admire do this, perhaps by setting a scene, relaying a dramatic or funny anecdote, or making a bold statement.
    • Next comes what we in the journalism business call a "nutgraf": It's a paragraph that lays out your argument in a nutshell. Basically, you'll want your thesis statement here, as well as an explicit mention of that element of timeliness. ("As gay marriage becomes a defining issue of our time with these landmark Supreme Court cases, it's worth looking back at how Will & Grace did -- or didn't -- change societal attitudes toward the LGBT community." Or whatever.)
    • Next, go through your 3-5 supporting arguments, along with the evidence you gathered. Try to arrange these in the most logical order possible.
    • End with a punch. In journalism we call the ending the "kicker." You want it to be resounding and in tune with the rest of the piece -- a joke at the end of a funny piece, a profound statement at the end of a serious piece. Often you can deal with the pressure of this very difficult task by ending on a quote. This gives the job to someone else. But experiment with different ways to end pieces (without that awful "in conclusion ..." statement they used to teach us to end on in high school essays).
  6. Read it over and revise. Congrats, you're done!

    Read it over and revise. Congrats, you're done!

  7. Pop culture piece

    Share your pieces in the Project Tab for feedback!

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