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Writing School Papers: Does Your First Version Say It All?

My colleague Mike Arnzen talked about the writing process with the Voice of America. Michael Arnzen teaches English and heads humanities studies at Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania. Mr. Arnzen is also an award-winning author. He says he understands the desire to write something and be done with it. “We’ve all been there. We feel we’ve done (something) good enough, and can’t we move on with our lives?” But he…

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New Video Game’s Second-Person Shooter Mode Features Someone Just Describing Game To You

I’m introducing text adventure games to the students in my online “Video Game Culture and Theory” course. A few years ago, when my son was 11, I made a screencast of him encountering a text adventure game for the first time. My students generally like watching this video, since it gives them an idea of how to play a text-only game. The Onion recently posted a great spoof of a…

How to Write Dialogue -- Jerz's Literacy Weblog

Writing Effective Dialogue (Punctuation and Actions in Creative Writing)

“Punctuating dialogue properly is important,” says the old man, “But actions speak loudly, too. When I offered you tea, and you unlaced your boots at my hearth, we didn’t need any words stating that there was a comfortable lull in our conversation. The careful placement of details created a little pause. It was a good example of showing rather than telling.”

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Split Infinitives in English: Not Actually Wrong, But Unwise

The rule against split infinitives is a bookish restriction serving no real function in English. However, many people have memorized the “no split infinitives” rule and take it very seriously. It’s best never to split infinitives (unless you want to really emphasize the risk you are taking). More: Split Infinitives in English: Not Actually Wrong, But Unwise.

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About that Cough, Rough, Pony, Bologna Meme

Do the spellings of cough & rough, pony & bologna bug you, too? English evolves organically, without our permission. Words that look similar but are pronounced differently generally came to the language from different sources and/or at different times, by an organic process that is not controlled by people in smoky board rooms. In our day, private organizations such as dictionary publishers or the Associated Press do regularly make decisions on…

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‘A Klingon Christmas Carol’ Translates Dickens’ Scrooge Fable to ‘Star Trek’ Universe for Fifth Chicago Season

Be still, my nerdy heart. (The other heart can go on beating.) Written by Christopher Kidder-Mostrom and Sasha Warren, A Klingon Christmas Carol is the first play ever to have been performed entirely in the Klingon language. The made-up tongue was developed for the Star Trek universe by Marc Okrand from basic elements created by actor James Doohan (“Scotty”) for the first Trek film, 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture.…

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The Sentence That Knocked Down the Berlin Wall (But Almost Didn’t)

Words that defined Ronald Reagan’s presidency, as remembered by the White House speechwriter. As a speechwriter you spent your working life watching Reagan, talking about Reagan, reading about Reagan, attempting to inhabit the very mind of Reagan. When you joined him in the Oval Office, you didn’t want to hear him say simply that he liked your work. You wanted to get him talking, revealing himself. So you’d go into…