Paragraphs, Chapters, and Other Breaks

When I was in elementary school, I couldn’t figure out paragraph breaks, no matter how many times my teachers tried to explain them to me. My paragraphs were always too long or too short, evidently. It was always the same feedback. Paragraph breaks are a higher level of separation. Above that, chapter breaks. Above evenContinue reading “Paragraphs, Chapters, and Other Breaks”

Punctuation and Visual Rhythm

Recently I was proofreading a novel draft of mine, and I came across this sentence: Anne advanced; he retreated; she cornered him against a wall and pounded his shoulders. Now, I love me some semicolons, so it’s no surprise that I would somehow manage to get two into a single sentence in the first fiveContinue reading “Punctuation and Visual Rhythm”

Reading for Saturation

When we teach college writing, we’re generally asking students to write in genres that they may have never read. Why, then, do we expect them to be able to write these successfully? Genres are, as I have often observed, slippery things and can’t really be completely understood through explicit instruction. Sure, scholars can and oftenContinue reading “Reading for Saturation”

Don’t Let Anyone Steal Your Words!

In one poignant session with the best therapist I ever had, while I was in the depths of a severe depressive episode as a graduate student, the therapist asked me what I would have if, tomorrow, my entire academic career was taken away: if I couldn’t be a teacher, I couldn’t work on my Ph.D.,Continue reading “Don’t Let Anyone Steal Your Words!”

Overdue Update and End of Semester Reflection

I’m back! Updates I know it’s been literal months since I updated this blog. As glancingly indicated in my last post, the new year brought a lot of changes, and this blog is a little lower in priority than other things going on. Since then, I’ve resigned from my job, moved to the west coast,Continue reading “Overdue Update and End of Semester Reflection”

Evaluation Without Grades: A Suggested Activity

I’m wrapping up finals week for what, unexpectedly and excitingly, is my final semester teaching at my current institution. Several years ago, on the advice of my colleagues and supervisors, I abandoned final exams for my writing courses, and although I miss my tricks to check that the students read the directions, it’s been overallContinue reading “Evaluation Without Grades: A Suggested Activity”

Ready for NaNoWriMo?

It’s that time of year again! Time to hang up the skeletons and put out the tombstones, but also time to brush off the Word documents and start a new novel. It’s time for National Novel Writing Month! If you’ve been around here for a while, you may know that I’ve done and won NaNoWriMoContinue reading “Ready for NaNoWriMo?”

Hinges and Stitches: Thinking About Transitions in Writing

I was winging it in the classroom the other day, analyzing some paragraphs in a response to a very important landmark physics paper and how they transition, and I hit on an image that I think is going to be useful for a long time: hinges and stitches. My class uses Graff and Birkenstein’s excellentContinue reading “Hinges and Stitches: Thinking About Transitions in Writing”

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