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How To Decide To Cut A Scene: A Heuristic for Writers

Almost every fiction writer has heard “kill your darlings” and “show don’t tell.” These pithy sayings get repeated so much that they lose a lot of meaning and they’re frankly a little annoying, because they don’t really help writers know when to kill darlings, or which darlings to kill, or what to show and notContinue reading “How To Decide To Cut A Scene: A Heuristic for Writers”

About Those Staggered Due Dates…

Previously I wrote about my scheme this semester to stagger due dates by having students sign up for a date during a “due week,” and reported that it was doing pretty well. I wrote too soon. As you may have surmised, time simply has no meaning anymore. Even self-selected due dates became meaningless when myContinue reading “About Those Staggered Due Dates…”

Whom Do You Write For?

One of the hardest questions that authors get asked perhaps too seldom is “Who are you writing for?” It’s also, perhaps, the most important. More important even than “Why are you writing?” or “What are you writing?” Writing without an audience just doesn’t work. The audience completes the text, you see. Sure, the author mayContinue reading “Whom Do You Write For?”

Redundancy Is Good Praxis

I just got done setting up the second online module for my formerly face-to-face classes. When we all were preparing to go online, I knew I had some advantages: I’ve done this before (in fact, I’ve been plundering some of my previous online classes’ resources to help the shift), and I know from experience thatContinue reading “Redundancy Is Good Praxis”

The Good, The Bad, and The Covid-19

Yesterday, Ball State University announced that we will be suspending in-person classes for the remainder of the semester, effective Monday. I wasn’t surprised, honestly, and I’m actually a little relieved. I’m not given to panic. But I know I’ve been dragging lately, and honestly the requirement to entirely change my teaching strategy overnight excites me.Continue reading “The Good, The Bad, and The Covid-19”

Update: Due Week Results

Before the semester began, I wrote about my resolution to improve response times on student work by assigning due weeks and having students sign up for their due dates within the weeks, rather than having a set due date for the entire class. Last week I wrote about building revision into the syllabus, which wasContinue reading “Update: Due Week Results”

Building Revision Into the Syllabus

Muriel Harris usefully posited the notion of “one-draft writers” and “multi-draft writers” in 1989. For anything less than a novel, I tend to be a “one-drafter”, meaning that I resist revision because I do most of my deep revision on the planning end of things. My outlines are basically my first drafts, and by theContinue reading “Building Revision Into the Syllabus”

First Year Composition Conundrums

This week I had a very depressing thought: As a fully qualified person with a Ph.D., I am teaching essentially the same courses that I was teaching my first year of graduate school, with only a B.A. to my name and a week of “boot camp” training. Sure, I get paid more, but I alsoContinue reading “First Year Composition Conundrums”

The Embodied Literature Review: A Classroom Activity

Last week, I introduced my students to the genre of the literature review. This is, for most first year composition students, an entirely alien genre, since it’s largely the province of academic work. However, the course I’m teaching requires, as part of its description, that my students produce an annotated bibliography of 15-20 sources andContinue reading “The Embodied Literature Review: A Classroom Activity”

When Classroom Management Failure Is An Understatement

I normally don’t talk about professional material on Mondays in this space, but, after last week, I think there’s something we need to talk about. Some of you may have seen Ball State University, where I teach, in the news lately. If you haven’t, here’s the story, go read it. I’ll wait. My understanding ofContinue reading “When Classroom Management Failure Is An Understatement”