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Writing Advice

Write What You Know

I’ve recently started writing a new historical novel, which means wallowing in research of Anglo-Saxon Britain circa the 7th century CE, and my experience so far has brought to the surface some realizations that I’m sharing with both my rhetoric and creative-writing students.

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What do English Majors do? (my speech at the Sigma Tau Delta induction)

I love bridges. I grew up in rural Washington State, with a creek running behind my backyard, and a river running between my house and everything I needed to get to. When I waited for the bus each morning on the country bridge spanning the small Newaukum River, I always tried to find the exactly … Continue reading »

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When we hear the word craft or craftsmanship, we tend to think of the material arts, ie. building something with one’s hands: cooking, carpentry, sculpting, painting, etc. We understand craft to be the method of making or doing, of using specific materials and tools to accomplish specific tasks, and to do so in an aesthetically … Continue reading »

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The Importance of Inquiry

The term “inquiry” is an intimate part of academic discourse. A quick Google search of Chapman University’s website returns 924 instances of the word, and it is the central aspect of the GE “Shared Inquiry” clusters: Artistic Inquiry, Natural Science Inquiry, Quantitative Inquiry, Social Inquiry, Values and Ethical Inquiry, Written Inquiry (most likely the reason … Continue reading »

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Dreams, the Unconscious Mind, and Rhetoric

If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them.  The dignity of movement of the iceberg is due … Continue reading »

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Affecting Positive Change

Last month, Paul Krugman, the liberal Nobel prize winner and New York Times columnist, was invited by the Occupy Wall Street protesters to speak at one of the demonstrations. When he declined, citing “restrictions that come with the privilege” of writing for the Times; “one of them is not crossing the line between advocate and activist,” many in the movement cried … Continue reading »

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The Five Paragraph Essay Syndrome

Before I begin my rant, let me establish this qualifier: the five paragraph essay format has its place in composition. It’s a simple formula that helps beginning writers understand the basic structure of an academic essay—introduction and thesis, supporting reasons, evidence, and examples, conclusion. The three supporting paragraphs force beginners to think up multiple reasons … Continue reading »

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Independent Revision Through Collaboration

I’m sure many of you have wondered why English teachers always place students into groups to revise papers. Is it just time filler? Are English teachers lazy, avoiding reading student drafts? The answer lies in the power of collaborative learning, “based on the idea that learning is a naturally social act in which participants talk … Continue reading »

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Finding Your Voice

Voice. It’s the single most important aspect of blogging. Remember, the web log started as a personal, online journal, and that basic origin is still the central point of most blogs. Without a strong authentic voice, your blog loses credibility and personal appeal. The best blogs are those that speak to us, that connect us … Continue reading »

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