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Working with a student taking a college level writing course, I remembered an old axiom - challenge your professor. The student, a good writer already, wanted help in direction with a persuasive paper. The topic was a current headline in science: the possible dangers of genetically altered food. She was well versed in the pros and cons of the topic, but was having difficulty choosing sides in part because her professor had expressed a definite opinion.   After discussing the parameters of the paper, she knew in a persuasive paper she had to choose a side. I challenged her to choose immediately without any more going back and forth. To my surprise, she had enough spine to go directly against her professor's stated views. We worked to make sure the position she chose had plenty of factual support and that her draft would have a good structure. Then I encouraged her to think in the extreme - what's the most dramatic outcome if you are correct?   Through the wonder... read more

As a writer, the way I embrace my audience depends on the piece I am writing. So, if I am writing non-fiction, my tone is usually serious because my readers are looking for facts. On the other hand, if I am working on a fictional story, my purpose is to entertain my readers. Audiences and readers expect to be informed or entertained. It is the task of the writer to oblige those expectations. I find that if you write with a clear purpose in mind, then it is easier to convey the theme or mood of the writing. Audiences are usually very bright and can tell if a writing has no direction. To embrace mine, I always plan out my writings, giving them definite beginnings and strong endings. Blogs are a little different. They are streams of the writer's consciousness. They may be factual or fictional, but they are usually less structured and free-flowing forms of online media content. To embrace online blog readers, one must... read more

An English teacher of mine once taught us that there are only two ways to build any sentence you want to write: you can either say what something is, or you can say what it does. That’s it. The English language has at least a quarter of a million words to work with, and you can still reduce any statement to one of these options.   There is comfort in that simplicity when you are working on a cover letter. As you grope through the field of language, hoping to find that magic combination of words to persuade a prospective employer to look more closely at you, consider the following questions as a useful starting place:   What (or Who) are you? What do you do?   Of course, it’s not uncommon to react to broad questions like these with ill-defined anxiety. There’s the temptation to to create a broad, generic response (“I can do anything you need me to do!”), which is neither compelling nor effective. It’s a little like trying to lift the... read more

Students have a wonderful opportunity to show admissions officers who they really are, by using the college essay to stand out from the crowd. In my experience, if you find a topic that you care about, and you write an essay that speaks from your heart, you will have a successful application experience. Admissions officers have to read dozens of applications per day in the 'busy season'. If you give an application reader a chance to pause, laugh out loud or wonder about the end of the story, and really recognize you as an individual, whether using humor, philosophy, creative writing about a memory or a fictionalized experience, or a profound lesson learned, you will hit a home run!   I am happy to help you get started, and then to edit your results. I do not write essays for students, but I do help you present yourself in the best light possible, and to give you opportunities that you may not find on your own.  Contact me for 3-session essay writing package... read more

Take a look at the following list of words:  is, are, was, were, be, being, been.  These words often make writing weak and confusing.  Want to create superior writing?  Get rid of them.  Now, that may sound crazy, as they stand among the most common words in the English language.  That's because they serve as hallmarks of common, average writing.  To make  your prose better than average, you should use them less frequently.

Essay writing can be challenging for young writers.  I have written hundreds of essays.  It's always been a pleasure to receive a grade of A on an essay; however, it is even more enjoyable to receive a direct deposit for a winning scholarship essay!  Yes, it can make all the difference when funding your own education.  There are thousands of scholarship opportunities and most of them require a well written essay submission.   Have you ever been given a writing assignment that requires referencing a dozen different documents?  Are you learning to organize your writing?  Is it overwhelming when you are asked to complete a lengthy essay or report that includes more than just 5 or 6 references?  Do you want to apply for scholarships but you don't know how to write a winning essay?  To write any type of essay, my first tip is to take a step back, re-read the assignment criteria and/or rubric, and ask yourself a few questions.     1... read more

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