book reviews / writers tips

Writers Tip #100: 12 Tips From Writing From A to Z

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:

  1. Flowchart of the writing process from prewriting to the finished document
  2. Peer response guidelines, organized by kinds of writing (useful for critique groups as well as a writing class)
  3. Overview of the research process from writers responsibilities to plagiarism
  4. Alphabetic list of abbreviations
  5. An explanation of Boolean searches
  6. When/how to use commas (this caught my attention because a reader just asked a question about the use of commas in a list)
  7. Comparison and contrast as a method of development
  8. First drafts
  9. Literary analysis
  10. Past perfect tense, past participles and the like
  11. When to use question marks (revisit Writers Tip #99–the misuse of question marks is one of Noah Lukeman’s hot buttons)
  12. How to avoid vague words

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More writing tips:

Back up a long WIP

Get to Know Your Character

A Rejection Simply Means ‘No’

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

28 thoughts on “Writers Tip #100: 12 Tips From Writing From A to Z

  1. Hi Jacqui – Boolean searches gave me a nod … I’ve just written about Ada Lovelace – Byron’s mathematical daughter … first computer analysis 170 years ago … but I’d definitely follow your thoughts here – thankfully I’m only in blog-post mode … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Hilary–just found your comment in spam–thank you Debbie (over at DGKayeWriter) for making me look! This will have to be a new habit.

      Ada Lovelace was a role model for women programmers. I often share her with my students. I’m going over to see what you discussed about her.


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