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”

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”

Rethinking How We Teach Paraphrasing

When you teach a course on writing research, of course you do a lot of work with source handling. I suspect that most of us were taught summary, paraphrase, and quotation as a set, and many of us were given exercises that drilled us to do each of these things with a source on command.Continue reading “Rethinking How We Teach Paraphrasing”

Writing Is Social

We all know the stereotypes of the writer: the introvert with cats hiding away with coffee and alcohol, scribbling away in a notebook (ok, minus the coffee and wine, it’s true for me). “Writing is a lonely profession,” people say. We see it as a soloistic endeavor: the grand aloof maestro spinning mesmerizing tales outContinue reading “Writing Is Social”

Finishing A Dead Draft

Anne Lamott famously gave us the concept of “shitty first drafts” as the key to “good second drafts and terrific third drafts,” and even that seems overly optimistic for many writers—my process for long fiction takes at least four drafts. But if we are being generous with ourselves, as Anne Lamott argues, we embrace theContinue reading “Finishing A Dead Draft”

Post NaNoWriMo Report: Accountability Matters

Final word count: 52,683 I have often emphasized that writing is not a solo endeavor, but an inherently social activity. In fact, this is one of the reasons I chose to study writing instead of botany: I wanted something a little more social (I was very naive when I made that choice, so please forgiveContinue reading “Post NaNoWriMo Report: Accountability Matters”

NaNoWriMo 2020 Update #3

Par today is 31,673 words. As of writing this, I’m at 31,865 words. I haven’t written for today yet. So it’s still safe to say I’m doing all right this year. Today i want to ask: Why do you write? Everyone writes for different, often deeply personal reasons. I’ve been thinking about these reasons aContinue reading “NaNoWriMo 2020 Update #3”

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