When you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. These writer’s tips will come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.
Sometimes what you need in your writing is a dictionary approach–the ability to look up your problem and find the answer. That’s what Writing From A to Z: The Easy-to-use Reference (McGraw Hill 2005) offers. This book is designed as a textbook for a writing class with physical as well as online content. It includes topics such as basic grammar, logic and argumentation, methods of development, and sample student papers. Here are twelve ideas I found especially useful:
- Flowchart of the writing process from prewriting to the finished document
- Peer response guidelines, organized by kinds of writing (useful for critique groups as well as a writing class)
- Overview of the research process from writers responsibilities to plagiarism
- Alphabetic list of abbreviations
- An explanation of Boolean searches
- When/how to use commas (this caught my attention because a reader just asked a question about the use of commas in a list)
- Comparison and contrast as a method of development
- First drafts
- Literary analysis
- Past perfect tense, past participles and the like
- When to use question marks (revisit Writers Tip #99–the misuse of question marks is one of Noah Lukeman’s hot buttons)
- How to avoid vague words
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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.