Writing Coaching Blog

Student holding pen
Helen Sword is Professor and Director of the Learning and Research in Higher Education at the University of Ackland. She has created the WritersDiet Test that "identifies some of the sentence-level grammatical features that most frequently weigh down academic prose." To use the Test, simply copy and paste 100 - 1,000 words from your paper and paste them into the textbox. This feedback tool will show if your writing is "fit or flabby." For further information on how to improve your sentences, please Visit the WrtiersDiet website.
Instructor and Students
Previously, we have talked about the importance of writing an outline and what to aim for in your outline.  After diligently considering the importance of organizing your thoughts and planning your paper, you have a lovely outline, organized by topic and with relevant research bulleted underneath your individual points.  What now?  Going from outline to paper can be somewhat terrifying.  Every student has faced the horror that is a blank word document.  Think of your outline as a skeleton: You have the bare bones of your writing, whether you’ve used phrases or complete sentences – use it to flesh out your argument.  If you’ve used incomplete phrases and short thoughts as the base of your... Continued
Two Students
Whenever you’re writing a paper, in addition to having all your library research, PDFs, and word documents open on your computer, it’s also a good idea to have a dictionary and a thesaurus open in a separate webpage.  I prefer using Google and thesaurus.com because they tend to work most efficiently for me, but most online dictionaries will also suffice.  Or serve.  Or suit.  Many a research quote begins something like, “The author says…”  Why not use “states”?  Or “claims”?  Or “expresses”?  There are so many words with which we can color our writing – take advantage of them!  While remaining concise is important, using synonyms allows you to avoid needless repetition in your writing.  But... Continued
Student Holding Pen
As we reach the point of the semester that is the root cause of headaches, hair-pulling, and occasional tears, it is good to find ways to take care of ourselves in the face of midterm season.  Some people find that exercise helps lower their stress; others prefer yoga and meditation.  I personally recommend journaling - and I'm not necessarily talking about "Dear Diary...", although such an opening isn't inappropriate.  Writing aids you in collecting and organizing your thoughts - it concretizes the nebulous mass of thoughts that is always swirling about in our heads.  It gives us something to see: "Oh, that's what's on my mind."  It can be as simple as a to-do list when you feel you have... Continued
Two Students and Laptop
Modifiers are words or phrases used to provide details about an action or event. Many times we incorrectly place the modifier, ultimately altering the meaning of the sentence. Incorrect: The distance runner almost jogged the perimeter of the whole town. Correct: The distance runner jogged the perimeter of almost the whole town. In the incorrect example above, the sentence implies that the distance runner was going to run the distance of the whole town, but did not. On the other hand, the correct version of the sentence suggests that the distance runner did in fact runner, but not quite the perimeter of the whole town. Incorrect: After January 1st, Dad said he would shave his mustache.... Continued