Category Archives: Teaching writing skills

Techniques to improve skills of novices and struggling writers

Out of character

“It fits the  perpetrator’s M.O.” … you’ve heard M.O. mentioned in so many police shows, detective novels, any kind of work related to law enforcement. What is it? A profile of a killer who has struck again collection constructed from … Continue reading

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The character who saw too much

Writing from the first person point of view routinely goes through periods of popularity only to be followed by a flood of amateurish first person novels. Then, writing “gurus” will advice the beginning writer never to write in first person. … Continue reading

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Physiological writing

What exactly are physiological reactions? Imagine you are a young teenage girl. You are waiting in the math hall, and that handsome senior with an air of indifferent confidence strolls past you on the way to calculus. Normally you are … Continue reading

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Unknown, unnerving

While watching a military movie, that was unexpectedly full of death in gory detail (i.e. multiple flying body parts) my mind decided I had seen enough gruesomeness I started laughing. Unable to squelch the giggles, I told my husband that I … Continue reading

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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: subject of emphasis, originality of image, the placement of objects, type of people pictured. Then, they examined techniques such as use of  … 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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