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.”

What Could Have Entered the Public Domain in 2015

What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2015?

If the pre-1978 laws were still in effect, we could have seen 85% of the works published in 1986 enter the public domain on January 1, 2015. Imagine what that would mean to our archives, our libraries, our schools and our culture. Such works could be digitized, preserved, and made available for education, for research, for future creators. Instead, they will remain under copyright for decades to come, perhaps even…

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Does the phrase “based off of” make you shudder… or shrug?

When I first started noticing the phrase “based off of” in student papers, I thought it was just a careless typo. But I’ve noticed it more and more in online writing and in casual speech.

Saying “based off of” may be related to the phrase “flying of off,” as it seems to mean something like “is now different from, but was once more obviously similar to.” By contrast, “based on” may be taking on the meaning “still directly connected to.”

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12yo Actress Carolyn Jerz on Pict Classic Theatre’s Great Expectations: “Your heart will be torn.” (WCNS “Steppin’ Out”)

My daughter, who plays Young Estella in Pict Classic Theatre’s “Great Expectations,” was interviewed on Tony Marino’s WCNS “Steppin’ Out” local arts radio talk show. I’ve embedded the 10-minute segment below. During the segment, she told a ghost story about the Charity Randall theatre, she said her favorite scene is the manners lesson Pip receives from his friend Herbert Pocket (“Pip is a country lad, and he doesn’t know manners, and…

My daughter Carolyn appears as Young Estella in PICT Classic Theatre's Great Expectations, which Next Pittsburgh chose as the first of
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Top 8 events not to miss in December

My daughter Carolyn appears as Young Estella in PICT Classic Theatre’s Great Expectations, the first of NEXT Pittsburgh’s “Top 8 events not to miss in December” 1. PICT Classic Theatre’s Great Expectations: December 3 – 20, Stephen Foster Memorial Kick off the holidays with a timeless moral tale that begins on Christmas morning. Follow along with young Pip in this classic coming-of-age adventure story, as the kindhearted orphan unexpectedly receives a…

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I gave my class a Poem to read. The author’s Name — I hid.

I gave my class a Poem to read. The author’s Name — I hid. I said, “What if my sole Intent Were to really flip your lid? “What if I removed Dashes — And lowercased some Words?” The students said, “Well, Dr. Jerz, Then you would be a jerk.”   P.S. It wasn’t actually an Emily Dickinson poem, and I hadn’t actually changed it at all, but some students guessed she…

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Homeownership in America Has Collapsed—Dont Blame Millennials

Yes, the article is interesting, but I’m blogging it for the Jane Austen reference. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a journalist in possession of a negative statistic must find a way to blame Millennials for it. In 2012, Jordan Weissmann and I observed that young people were turning away from homes and cars, the twin engines of the economy. Two years later, the homeownership rate is still declining…