Writing Coaching Blog

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
Teacher and Students
Commas are a necessary part of any academic essay, yet their usage remains elusive to many students and what otherwise might be a strong paper is tarnished by improper comma placement.  There is a balance – an art – to using commas and other punctuation.  Becoming familiar with how commas are used in writing can greatly assist students in editing their own writing, in addition to saving time when visiting the Rutgers Learning Centers.   Separate clauses: Fragments and Run-Ons Commas are often erroneously used as separation between independent clauses, or replaced by periods to divide dependent clauses.  This results in run-on sentences and sentence fragments, respectively... Continued
Two Students and Laptop
The verb to be is one of the vastly used verbs in the English language. It illustrates a condition of how an object or event is, was, or will be. Case in point, these past two sentences utilized four forms of to be verbs. Although it does not entail errors in writing, to be verbs significantly weaken an author’s message. Look out for some of these common to be verbs: am, is, are was, were be, been, being do, does, doing should, could, would Implement strong verbs to concisely develop an argument with argument and a clear stance. Words like should, could, and would add uncertainty rather by removing a firm stance on personal opinion in thesis-driven papers. Consider the examples below to... Continued
Student holding pen
You might not be aware of this, but chances are good that some of your sentences contain zombie nouns, those lifeless abstract nouns that lurk and drain the energy out of your writing.  The writer scholar Helen Sword coined the term and put together a clever video that shows you how to spot and replace them with life-affirming active verbs.