Writing Coaching Blog

two students studying

Comma use falls into two categories:  (1) too much, and (2) too little.

In the “too much” category we have errors when students place a comma in front of an integrated phrase:

[Between a subject and predicate:] His brilliant mind and curiosity, have left.

[Between the verb and its…


two students studying

Oftentimes, students approach writing tasks without clearly defining the goal of the prompt. We’ve learned the black and white distinctions between fiction and non-fiction. Classification of genres has also categorized various works of writing. However, a student’s purpose for writing will ultimately dictate the language of the text.

For example, how one composes a persuasive essay is much…


two students studying

Eloquent writing, by nature, makes an argument easy to read. In a creative context, eloquent writing leaps off the pages, appealing to all the mental senses to conjure a vivid picture that immerses the reader in what the author has to say. In a more scholarly context, say, a research paper, eloquent writing guides the reader by the hand through a series of potentially esoteric subjects. It allows the reader to focus on the…


two students studying

Oftentimes students are tasked with developing their own idea while trying to incorporate the arguments presented in various texts. Ultimately, many students struggle to find the division between their words and those of the authors of the textual support pieces. The blending of independent positions and the original author’s position generally leads to simple summarization of the author’s article. In order to reduce “summary” and…


two students studying

Let us appreciate the singular quality of the em dash, my favorite punctuation mark and one that is entirely underused. I am not speaking of the paltry hyphen, which is only useful for connecting words and dates—but the em dash, more than twice the length and with quite a bit more emphatic heft. Observe how it strikes through the previous sentence, drawing the reader's attention to its clause in a way that commas and…