Just Because You Can…

One day, in my first year of teaching high school, I made (as one does in their first year of teaching high school) a huge mistake.  I told my students they could use the first person singular in their papers. “Really?” they said, going goggle-eyed and slack-jawed.  “We can?  We’ve always been told we can’t!” … Continue reading Just Because You Can…

What Does it Mean to “Know Your Audience”?

At least a few times per semester at my Esteemed Place of Employment, I will have a conversation with a student in the Writing Lab that goes about like this: “Who’s the audience for this paper?”  I ask. “Mr. Johnson,” replies the student, if the student replies.* “Okay.  What does it mean to write something … Continue reading What Does it Mean to “Know Your Audience”?

Writing Exercise: The Company Mission Statement

First of all, readers, I get it: it’s been a long time. Some of those reasons (pandemic teaching) you can probably guess, others perhaps not, but my point is that I am fully aware that every time I write a post, I promise that I’m going to update more regularly, and every time, I don’t.  … Continue reading Writing Exercise: The Company Mission Statement

Put Down the Overused Literary Term

Dearest Students, This post is for you.  Your teachers are allowed to use whatever literary terms they want, because years of trial and error have taught your teachers discretion.  You are a different story.  My hope, however, is that the next time your teacher asks you to do some kind of textual analysis, this post … Continue reading Put Down the Overused Literary Term

Case Study: The Board Game Rulebook

Today we’re going to combine a couple of my hobby horses - good writing and board games - into a bizarre hobby horse chimera that might be distressing to look at, but will show us how, in addition to its many other benefits, good writing helps us have fun with our friends.  We’re going to … Continue reading Case Study: The Board Game Rulebook

Simple versus Simplistic

Write simply. Its one of the first, most frequent, and loudest writing tips I give my students: write simply.  Some of my students - those fond of referring to “individuals” when they mean “people,” talking about how an author “utilized” something when they want to talk about use, and those who have thesaurus.com in a … Continue reading Simple versus Simplistic

Active Voice Was Taught By Me

Back when I taught at Fancy Pants University, my writing courses were very popular (for reasons I have never completely figured out) with engineering students.  I loved teaching the engineers: they were funny, geeky, and had a different, more concrete way of looking at literature than humanities-focused students did. Yet the engineers (and the pre-med … Continue reading Active Voice Was Taught By Me

Five Writing “Controversies” I Will Not Engage

Every so often, my students will ask for my opinion regarding a writing matter on which I have no opinion - and that’s tough, because as anyone close to me can tell you, I have opinions on most things!  But since these come up from time to time, and I will continue to resolutely not … Continue reading Five Writing “Controversies” I Will Not Engage

Quarantine is a Great Time to Write

You, like the rest of us, are stuck inside, due to what the park near my house refers to, in deliciously euphemistic terms, as “current circumstances.”  We are fortunate(?) to live inside an abyss, wide without measure and deep without bottom, of ways to amuse ourselves. Aldous Huxley would be so proud of himself.  But … Continue reading Quarantine is a Great Time to Write

Writing Exercise: Tonal Mix ‘n Match

Hello, loyal (or occasional, or brand-new) readers!  You’re all craving some good news, right? We may be smack in the middle of the times that try men’s souls, but there is a silver lining to it all, which is that I’ll be updating the blog more often now that I’m stuck at home!  There, you … Continue reading Writing Exercise: Tonal Mix ‘n Match