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by swfdoc1
Tue Jun 03, 2014 6:27 pm
Forum: Jan's Writing Basics
Topic: Be a Better Writer--A FEW LOOSE ENDS
Replies: 24
Views: 13594

Re: Be a Better Writer--A FEW LOOSE ENDS

I agree with Jan about the reading level--I virtually never pay attention to it. I do pay a lot of attention to the number of words per sentence. The average numbers that I mentioned, I've seen for LOTS of types of writing. However, never for children's book or for passages with lots of dialog.
by swfdoc1
Tue Jun 03, 2014 4:03 pm
Forum: Jan's Writing Basics
Topic: Be a Better Writer--A FEW LOOSE ENDS
Replies: 24
Views: 13594

Re: Be a Better Writer--A FEW LOOSE ENDS

Question: is there a way to get straight to the readability statistics? It seems like I have to go through the entire spell check process before the score chart pops up, and that could become tedious for a long document. Theresa Unfortunately, not that I am aware of. Someone else here may know. Als...
by swfdoc1
Tue Jun 03, 2014 2:30 pm
Forum: Jan's Writing Basics
Topic: Be a Better Writer--A FEW LOOSE ENDS
Replies: 24
Views: 13594

Re: Be a Better Writer--A FEW LOOSE ENDS

Different approaches work for different writers, and for me, I believe I would go bananas if I made myself count the number of words in a sentence, and/or the number of sentences in each paragraph. I agree that counting all this would be a pain, especially in a long piece. But I do think—especially...
by swfdoc1
Mon Jun 02, 2014 12:02 am
Forum: Jan's Writing Basics
Topic: Be a Better Writer--A FEW LOOSE ENDS
Replies: 24
Views: 13594

Re: Be a Better Writer--A FEW LOOSE ENDS

Jan, I LOVE your analogy of the bell curves for sentences and paragraphs. Most writing handbooks recommend an average sentence length, although the recommendations are not uniform. I remember seeing 18, 23, and 25; and I used 23 with my students. For writing that is short enough, I recommend (and pr...
by swfdoc1
Thu May 29, 2014 5:36 pm
Forum: Jan's Writing Basics
Topic: Be a Better Writer--BREAKING THE RULES, part 2
Replies: 24
Views: 13798

Re: Be a Better Writer--BREAKING THE RULES, part 2

In fiction, there is an editors’ battle over the past perfect tense: some complain that authors do not use it when they should; others complain that authors overuse it. I will often use the contraction to reduce the FEEL (at least to me) of the number of past perfects: “he’d played,” “she’d thought,...
by swfdoc1
Sun May 18, 2014 1:32 pm
Forum: Jan's Writing Basics
Topic: Be A Better Writer--BREAKING THE RULES
Replies: 16
Views: 10051

Re: Be A Better Writer--BREAKING THE RULES

Here are a few thoughts. Re: “I” in academic writing. This rule (at least for some disciplines) is relaxing. I very frequently use “I” in my academic writing (probably about 60% of the time). I have never had any of my uses removed by an editor. I think people are finally waking up to two things: 1)...
by swfdoc1
Tue May 13, 2014 8:23 pm
Forum: Jan's Writing Basics
Topic: Second Tense (Writing in Second Person)
Replies: 4
Views: 4144

Re: Second Tense (Writing in Second Person)

Here's a link for a TED talk by Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield. Even though this is a talk, not a written piece, I thought it was interested how much of the talk is in second person, present tense (but with notable inconsistencies). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zo62S0ulqhA By the way, if you'v...
by swfdoc1
Sat Apr 19, 2014 8:25 pm
Forum: Jan's Writing Basics
Topic: Be a Better Writer--USING DIALECT
Replies: 20
Views: 11282

Re: Be a Better Writer--USING DIALECT

Interesting. Thanks.
by swfdoc1
Sat Apr 19, 2014 7:20 pm
Forum: Jan's Writing Basics
Topic: Be a Better Writer--USING DIALECT
Replies: 20
Views: 11282

Re: Be a Better Writer--USING DIALECT

That's a great report. I am definitely against the editions that have replaced the n-word with the word "slave," but I thought it might be very uncomfortable to read it out loud. Again, great report. What was the racial composition of the classes? (I hope this is not a thread hi-jack, given point 3 ...
by swfdoc1
Sat Apr 19, 2014 6:42 pm
Forum: Jan's Writing Basics
Topic: Be a Better Writer--USING DIALECT
Replies: 20
Views: 11282

Re: Be a Better Writer--USING DIALECT

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was another one that I loved reading aloud to my students. So much fun! That must have been interesting with 200-some occurrences of the n-word. (Sorry for dinging you on the King James English.) But you were right, and I was wrong. Another lesson in "trust your r...
by swfdoc1
Sat Apr 19, 2014 12:42 pm
Forum: Jan's Writing Basics
Topic: Be a Better Writer--USING DIALECT
Replies: 20
Views: 11282

Re: Be a Better Writer--USING DIALECT

Dialect is very hard! I don’t think I’ve ever written in it, but here are a few thoughts triggered by the lesson and others’ comments. 1. I have written in “King James English” once (in this piece ) and had an interesting experience. I made sure all the pronouns and verb endings were correct. It’s r...
by swfdoc1
Sat Apr 05, 2014 2:29 pm
Forum: Jan's Writing Basics
Topic: What should follow, "This?"
Replies: 10
Views: 7745

Re: What should follow, "This?"

Always lurking; not always participating! :mrgreen:
by swfdoc1
Sat Apr 05, 2014 2:17 pm
Forum: Jan's Writing Basics
Topic: What should follow, "This?"
Replies: 10
Views: 7745

Re: What should follow, "This?"

Jan, you're right, of courses, that it is often OK to follow "this" with “is.” But I think what the students are being warned against—in a VERY poor manner—is something that ALL writers should avoid: broad pronoun reference. But that problem extends beyond the word “this” and often must be solved in...
by swfdoc1
Fri Mar 28, 2014 12:12 am
Forum: Jan's Writing Basics
Topic: Be a Better Writer--Commas with conjunctions
Replies: 22
Views: 15243

Re: Be a Better Writer--A quick grammar lesson

I was recently told about a rhetorical device called asyndeton where conjunctions are intentionally left out. I find asyndeton and its opposite, polysyndeton, amazingly powerful. I used to teach these techniques to my legal writing students, but without using the technical terms. Here's an example:...
by swfdoc1
Thu Mar 13, 2014 12:23 am
Forum: Jan's Writing Basics
Topic: Conclusion #2--the 5th judging criterion
Replies: 40
Views: 32753

Re: Be a Better Writer--GREAT ENDINGS

I love when an ending comes full circle in a surprising way - bringing us back to the beginning I love this, too. Garrison Keillor does this in the stories he tells on his show (which I have listened to a lot) and I presume in his books (which I have not read). Or at least he takes one back to some...

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