Category Archives: Teaching writing skills

Techniques to improve skills of novices and struggling writers

Creating pungent memories

The sense of smell is such a powerful memory enhancer that at one time people in the training business tried to capture its potential.  However, the difficulty with using smell to help people retain what they had learned is that … Continue reading

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The forgotten sense

For an recent practice in sensory description, emerging writers chose a photo from their childhood–playing on a snow drenched hill, seeking warmth in the flicker of a fireplace, or splashing in a plastic pool to escape the summer heat.  For … Continue reading

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Visualizing conversation

Imagine you are creating an everyday conversation of a fairly happy couple lunching at an outdoor cafe. The idea is to make it sound ordinary but still drop in some clues about the problems looming just beyond the horizon. However, … Continue reading

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Transformations

For a recent assignment, students were to examine an advertisement. Questions led them to look at the visuals: emphasis, originality, the placement of objects, type of people pictured. Then, they examined techniques such as use of pathos, band wagon appeal, … Continue reading

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Vibrant verbs

Writers can throw around the terms used to describe interesting language – sensory images, unusual syntax, well-developed descriptions, and vibrant verbs. But incorporating these into writing and preserving the flow is a challenge. Recently I worked with some nascent writers trying to … Continue reading

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How to play the words well

Do a little bit of research on the internet and you will soon come up with vast lists of literary devices in addition to the ones that I have discussed. But it is too overwhelming to start employing them all. … Continue reading

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The speed signs for writing

The way we string together words and the type of words we use contribute to the “pace” of writing. Longer sentences with a plethora of subordinated clauses provide an intellectual sound to the writing. The reader must take more time to … Continue reading

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Order matters how?

While diction determines word choice, syntax determines where the words are placed. Language without syntax are words strung together with no method to the madness–in other words, nonsense. Our normal syntax mimics what we have heard before. Unique syntax requires mixing … Continue reading

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Tone of voice

Tone of voice… you have probably heard this phrase used frequently, such as in “I don’t like your tone of voice.” As a child I often assumed that phrase was the adults’ way of reprimanding someone whose statement was not … Continue reading

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Write or wrong word

Diction is one of the building blocks of voice that pushed far enough can become a two-edged sword, making the written word dangerously inaccessible to readers. When teaching Shakespeare’s plays to students I frequently pointed out that it was not … Continue reading

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