Jerz > About > Dennis G. Jerz [ Professional Biography | Writing Handouts ]

Phone: 724.830.1909
Fax: 724 830 4601

I’m grateful for vaccines and America’s First Amendment freedoms.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

On this website I don’t intend to speak for my employer or anyone else. Views expressed here are my own.

Consultation Hours, Spring 2024

  • Tue 2:30-4
  • Wed 10-11
  • Thu 2:30-4
  • Also by appointment
  • If you would like an in-person meeting (and you agree to mask if you are sick) we can meet in my office, St. Joseph 403
  • A Zoom appointment is also fine.


How to Book an Appointment via Google Calendar

For an in-person or Zoom visit, Seton Hill students may book a 15-minute appointment via Google Calendar

  • Make sure you are logged in to your SHU gmail account (and that your time zone is set appropriately).
  • When you click the link to my Google appointment calendar, you will see gray boxes that represent open appointment slots. Click one, and you will see the following.Screen-Shot-2013-01-08-at-5.19.19-PM
  • You may fill out the details, or just leave them blank. Click “save” and you’ll see this message. It will automatically appear in my calendar, and I will know to save the time for you.Screen-Shot-2013-01-08-at-5.22.53-PM
  • If you see the above message, your appointment has been booked. You are welcome to email me if you’d like to let me know what you’d like to discuss.
  • If for any reason you cannot make your appointment, please let me know in advance, so that I can free up the slot to help another student.



1 Seton Hill Dr.
Box 461
Seton Hill University (map)
Greensburg, PA 15601

Link Permissions: Feel free to link to any resources you find on my website. There’s no need to wait for my permission (but I’d still enjoy hearing from you).

Reprint Requests: If you want to reprint an article or a long extract, please contact me first.

Blender 3D Portfolio: Some of my CGI designs.

87 thoughts on “Contact

  1. I am Claire Goodger, a senior at North Kingstown High School, and for my Senior Project I am writing a young adult short novel. I found the article on your blog, “Short Story Tips: 10 Ways to Improve Your Creative Writing,” very helpful. However, I was wondering if you had any opinions on the boundaries of what is appropriate content for the young adult genre. This is in regards to things like drugs, sex, and any typical struggles that could be considered inappropriate for certain age groups.
    I would greatly appreciate the input.
    Thank you for your time!

  2. I am a beginning writer at 70 and would like to join your blog. How do I do that. Actually, I have written several articles that have been published in magazines and floor covering association papers. I would prefer to write fiction. Thank you for your time.

  3. Excellent guidance for budding story tellers. I’m following more or less all the ten steps you clarified, and highlighted through your blog, Mr. Jerz. And this article is really helpful for writing a ‘good’ story. The rest lies with the author for the real ‘success’ of his/ her story.

    One thought I want to share with you, sir. Besides all the technicalities you outlined so poignantly with instances and anecdotes, the story must have to be very very ‘close’ to the writer’s heart.

  4. I do agree with you that students must have a course where they are taught to appropriately develop an argument, and I appreciate a lot that your resourcrs are free. As we have access to basic information sources I find also very important to have an open access to specialized information to improve our knowledge and skills. Thank you!

    • I’m glad you found my work helpful. If your guide is print, you are welcome to reproduce the full text of my handout, with citation. If you are posting a PDF or other electronic text, I ask that you not repost the full text; however, you are welcome to post an excerpt and a link.

    • My advice would be to talk to your instructor. If you can’t find support for your thesis, maybe there isn’t any support for the claim you want to make. Look at the evidence you’ve already found, and build a thesis that you know you can support. That may mean you need to do more research before you can write your thesis. I hope that helps.

  5. Dennis, I want to thank you for your time. Your website has been invaluable to me. I have been out of high school now for 39 years, and am just now starting back into college. (my kids are grown now, and it’s finally my time) Your clarity and instructions were stellar, and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the time you have devoted to this. Congratulations on making something in this world that matters to so many ! ! !

  6. Hello, Dr. Jerz. I teach English at Arkansas State University–Mountain Home. I will be teaching a news writing class for the first time this semester. I have some background as a journalist but it’s been awhile. I searched online for some resources to help me and came across your website. You have such great information on journalism! The information will be great for my students, who are mostly sophomores, and this will be their first journalism class. Do you mind if I print many of your articles to give as handouts to my students? I will include your name. Thank you!

  7. Hello Jerz,

    I hope you have a ear that I can ‘pull’ about the Adventure Game. So, here goes…

    While I was at the University(USU, Logan, Utah) going to school, I enjoyed playing Adventure quite a bit. I was a stress reliever from the grind. While at school, I had seen an original Fortran 77 source(back in the late 70’s and early 80′)s quite a few times. While prowling thru the source code, I picked out some cute, clever routines that I used in other programs. I feel that you have left out quite a bit of information. I remember reading the top/Documentation part – of the source code listing, it stated a list of the four ‘original’ authors. From what I can remember, it was Crowther and Woods and two others that I don’t remember. But the documentation further stated that the original version was written in MIT’s language of Muddle.It was then translated from Muddle into Fortran a by “paranoid” DEC Engineer named Robert Supnik( I believe: Robert M. Supnik) as it states. But anyrate, it was a surprise to learn of the origins of the Adventure game. But yet, I would like to get a copy of Adventure source code, data file, and documentation, preferable in “C”(but closest to the original in translation as possible. Is this possible?? If so, where can I get these files.

    Thanks for beginning back old, but fun, memories.

    Thom… June 26th, 2015…

  8. Greetings Dr. Jerz,

    I hope you don’t mind me sending you a bit of obsequious fan mail. As I do web searches on obscure things that I’m deeply interested in, I keep running across your excellent work. I am huge fan of text adventures and I’ve even developed my own tools for my students to create them – so I’ve obviously seen your contributions to Get Lamp I also have a borderline obsession with “Hunt the Wumpus” and was well into reading your article on its history before I realized you were its author. My students love playing the graphic version on the TI-99/4a I have in my classroom. I’ve written versions of the game for Windows, the Sinclair ZX81, and am working on a Commodore version in 6502 assembly which I may turn into a “home-brew” cartridge. Lastly in visiting your website, I found the article about Scott Adams, with whom I had just corresponded.

    Thank you for all interesting research. It is greatly appreciated.


    Evan Wright

    Game Programming Instructor
    Technology Center of DuPage
    Addison, IL 60101

    • What a pleasant message — I happened to be tending to my blog when your message came in. I have fond memories of my TI-99/4a and a Commodore 64. I’m very glad to know you find my resources helpful.

  9. Thank you for your response, Dennis–I think the safest way to proceed will be to list your site as a resource and have folks visiting our site link back directly to you. We definitely want to make sure we don’t overstep by quoting from your materials but would like to encourage our readers to gain some valuable insights by seeing what you have to share. Thank you so much! Anne Woita, Hildegard Center for the Arts

  10. Professor Jerz, I am associated with a non-profit arts organization in Lincoln, Nebraska called Hildegard Center for the Arts (a 501(c)3). Our mission is to collaborate with existing organizations and agencies to Celebrate the Arts and Inspire Humanity.

    As part of our theme of “Bridges” for our programming for the next three years, I am undertaking a project to work with artists, teachers and therapists to develop and formalize lesson plans focusing on the Arts to be used for enrichment, growth and healing. We are developing the plans to be implemented by those who work with the elderly and those facing the challenges of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (both children and adults–including our Veterans) as well as emotional, mental and physical challenges. We are also working with those who are battling addiction and children working through the grieving process. We will be trying out the plans through pilot programs at places such as the VA Hospital, Retirement Communities, and Child Behavior/Development/Trauma/Advocacy Centers before we eventually post the plans on our website ( We’d like to also include articles by professionals and therapists and provide a forum for the exchange of ideas. It’s a pretty daunting task but we’re digging in!

    I would like to include a series of activities on writing short stories and came across your article: “Short Story Tips: 10 Ways to Improve Your Creative Writing”. This resource would be a tremendous help for our participants who want to try their hands at writing, especially those who could benefit from telling their “stories” while in the process of healing. May I have your permission to re-post sections of this article onto our website (we plan to to have everything posted in January) with proper citations to you and links back to your website address?

    We, at Hildegard, are excited about the possibilities our project generates. All plans and materials we are able to gather and post on-line will be free for downloading and use by anyone who could benefit from bringing the arts to their clients/patients. I am hoping you will be willing to “partner” with Hildegard Center in this way to bring the Arts to a larger audience as we also shine a light on all the great work you’re doing.

    I will look forward to hearing what you think! Anne Woita

    • Thank you for your note, Anne. You are free to include hyperlinks or fair-use excerpts. I do ask that you do not publish an online copy of my work or long passages (e.g. complete sub sections) in any format. Your project sounds very interesting.

  11. Professor Jerz: The Ohio Department of Education is launching a new email system next week. We are orienting our staff on guidance for writing effective emails. I came across your Top 10 Strategies for Writing Effective Email and would like to use several of them in a presentation and handout. Tips I plan to use are #1, #2, #3, #4 and #7. Thank you for the useful article and examples. Hope you are fine that we’ll be using them. Patti Grey, Associate Director, Office of Communications and Outreach.

  12. I had a link to Index of Crowther’s original game, ADVENT. I just checked it and received a Forbidden notice. What happened?

  13. Thank you. This blog is great! Instructional and inspiring. As a 40-something man coming back home with 12,000 pictures from world travel, I couldn’t figure out how to put my experiences in short, concise stories. You’ve started me down the road to writing success.

  14. Hi there Dennis,

    Wow, I *love* your citation builder! However, I’m having a little trouble understanding some of the terminology regarding web pages. Would you kindly answer the following quick questions for me (for all of us, actually)?

    re: “Author” and “Publisher”
    What is the difference between these two?
    Where would I typically find the Author?
    Where would I typically find the Publisher?

    re: “Title of the Page” and its “Label”
    What is the difference between these two?
    Where would I typically find the Title of the Page?
    Where would I typically find its Label?

    re: the “Date” and the “Accessed (date)”
    What is the difference between these two?
    Where would I typically find the Date?
    Where would I typically find the Accessed (date)?

    Thanks so much for your assistance Dennis, and have a great day!

    • Did you click on the words such as “Author” and “Publisher” and read the 3-4 paragraphs with examples that should appear on the right of the screen? If you find any of that explanation confusing or insufficient, please let me know.

  15. Good evening Professor Jerz,

    I just read your article, “Should a Journalist Covering Rocky Horror Live Attend the Show in Drag?” on I noticed one small background fact in your article that you may want to correct: “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” was based on the stage play “The Rocky Horror Show,” not the other way around, as you have it. However, the audience participation you mention, did originate with the movie and has been incorporated into latter productions of the live show.

    Also, I do agree with the advice you gave your student to “dress in drag if they wanted to,” but I would make sure you emphasize that they should only go in drag or costume if that is part of their personality. If they go dressed up, and it’s not really who they are, they will probably be very distracted by how uncomfortable they are and not be able to report the story through a clear lens.


  16. I am hoping it is acceptable to use your papers as supplemental reading for the Presentational Speaking class I am teaching this summer. Marjorie Brody’s SPEAKING YOUR WAY TO THE TOP is very informative but does not give the type of specialized informationyou do to complete the SLO’s of our college, Baker College of Muskegon. Thank you,

  17. I contacted you some years back for permission to use your white paper on thesis statements in my high school classroom and received it (thank you). I have been using your method with success ever since. I am about to cite it from your weblog in my masters’ final, with APA and acknowledgement at Pitt. Do you have any problem with this> Sorry I cannot find your email address

  18. I stumbled upon your site because I was looking for materials that dealt with quotation integration to use in my high school classroom. I absolutely love your examples on this subject and the way you separated them into the “Spot the Wordy Formula” and “All That Really Matters” columns. I printed some of this material on a word document (with attribution to you at the top) and would love to use it in my classroom if you wouldn’t mind.

    Jen (AP English teacher)

  19. Hi Prof. Jerz,

    Thank you for your great Blog. There are lots of great resources on there! I was hoping to get your permission to print and share your ‘Short Stories: 10 Tips for Creative Writers’ with my pupils and some colleagues. I’ve slightly edited your work into a Word file by simply putting some room under each tip for a student activity. You’ve been fully credited in the Word file as the author.

    Thanks again,

    • Thanks for your message, Eoghan. I am glad you found my page useful. You are welcome to share printouts of the modified document as you describe. Because I periodically update my pages, I ask that you not share or post the full text in electronic form.

  20. I love to write romance stories. I have some already if you like to look at one. I am just wondering if there is a way of getting a writing job as right now I don’t hava a job.

    • Check the website for a publisher of novels similar to yours. There will probably be a FAQ page that describes how they handle story submissions. You might also visit your local library and check out a recent copy of Writer’s Market, which is the bible for freelance writers. Alas, you won’t find companies lining up to pay a nice living wage to first-time novelists, but if you have an eye for detail and accuracy, you might look into technical writing or editing as a profession. My general recommendation is a warning that any “publisher” who wants you to pay up front for the costs of editing, printing, and advertising your book, or anyone who collects hundreds of submissions into a big volume that they’ll be happy to sell to you, is not reputable.

  21. Hi Sir,

    Your website is a goldmine of valuable information and tips for aspiring writers. Thank you. I’m writing a short story and I have 2 questions.

    1) Can animals be featured prominently as main characters? And what about their thoughts expressed as dialogue? Is that acceptable?

    2) Can poetry be included in a short story?

    Your advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    • 1) Why don’t you read Charlotte’s Web, White Fang, Black Beauty, Animal Farm, Riki Tiki Tavi, or the original Tarzan novel, and decide for yourself whether the various techniques the authors used suit the kind of story you want to tell.

      2) You are free to experiment with whatever you want, but if you mix poetry and fiction like that you aren’t writing a short story or a poem, but something else that is sometimes like a story and sometimes like a poem. Tolkien has his characters sing songs and compose poems at various points in their adventures, but the story always gives a realistic explanation for why so-and-so suddenly started singing.

  22. Hello, I just wanted to say I have been using your materials in a class I am teaching in PaP, Haiti and I have found it extremely helpful! I would love to hear your thoughts on how I could improve the class, I have some really talented students!
    Thank you!

  23. Pingback: Booking an Appointment – Intro to Literary Study (Draft)

  24. Jan 6, 2013
    Dr. Jerz:
    I teach Creative Writing to adults, and have just come across your website by typing “Tips for Short Stories” into Google. Yours was the first site listed, so your SEO ranking must be very good.

    I am working with a group of young adults, and some older adults this week who are working to obtain their Grade 12 English in order to get their high school diploma, and have been asked to teach a 9-hr Creative Writing component of the course. They will have to hand in a 1200 word story at the end of the week.

    I’ll be making reference to your site and will pass on the link, and I’d like your permission to copy some of the articles for these students, and for others with whom I work (right now my main group is comprised of active seniors in their 60s and 70s.)
    I am also a professional writer, but my published work is non-fiction. I hope to have some fiction published this year.
    I find this material very interesting and stimulating to the creative process for both fiction and non-fiction. Thank you so much for creating this site.

    I look forward to hearing from you soon.
    Christine Peets
    Napanee, Ontario, Canada

  25. Hi Dennis,
    I love reading your articles too, but when i post comments it gives me weird messages like violations, hacking and stuff. I have feeling that i have been marked as a spam and i don’t see my posts anywhere in your blogs. I would appreciate if you can look into this matter and email me regarding these concerns.
    Thank you.

  26. Good Afternoon! I wanted to send you a quick message to see if I would be able to write an article on your blog. I have experience writing on a wide range of subjects, so if there are any specific topics you would like, please let me know! Otherwise I can come up with something that would be relevant for you and the readers of your website. I look forward to hearing back from you, thanks and have a great week!

    Best wishes,
    Paige Taylor

  27. sir i have written poems like i can’t express only as a last resort im asking you to consider me sir , im rpedits ,definitely do the best of work people have misused sir thank you , sir im losing hope too

    • I’m not quite sure what you’re asking, roopa, but if you’re looking for someone to read and give you feedback on your poetry, I suggest you try to join or form a writer’s group, where like-minded people all agree to read and comment on each other’s works. Maybe your local library has such a group, or maybe you can start one. I don’t recommend that you give money to websites that promise they will publish your poetry, but buying a couple hours of a professional editor’s time may be a great investment. Even the best writers get frustrated sometimes.

  28. I am trying to contact you via email to get permission to use some of your examples. The email link does not work on your other site and I have not been able to find another.

    I write training manuals for water and wastewater treatment operators in South Africa. Currently I am busy with a manual on writing and discovered your Temple example. I would like to use your example in my own words to explain sequencing points logically and deliberately. I will reference the material to you.

    Thank you.

    • Yes, of course you are welcome to cite my work. I ask that you do not republish a full copy in electronic format, but quoting or paraphrasing a passage is acceptable with a citation.

  29. Hi Dennis

    I work as Information Security Officer for University College Falmouth (UK) and would like to use your article “Writing Effective Email, Top 10 Email Tips” as part of my data protection workshops. To suit my institution I would like to make minor adjustments to some of the phrasing and be able to use the article as handouts during and after the workshops, with appropriate credit and links back to you.

    Would this be doable?
    Thanks in advance

    • If you only distribute the altered version as a printed handout, with the alterations clearly marked, that would be fine. I ask that you not post a complete copy or altered version anywhere online. Thanks.

      • Many thanks Dennis. I do not intend to use this anywhere on-line, including our internal intranet, but use just as a printed handout.

  30. Thank you, Dennis. Let me see how this sits with our Head Librarian. It makes perfect sense and our students can certainly access the latest and greatest more easily. ~~Vance

  31. Hi Dennis,

    I work in The Bishop’s School Library in La Jolla, CA. I was going to prepare a tutorial to post on our one of our library pages for setting up a research paper in Word and in Pages. Your article, “Step-by-step Instructions for Formatting Research Papers” is SO good, I’d like to post all of it without modification at the address in the Website above. This would go in the section named Tutorials: Microsoft Word under Formatting the paper and Setting up Works Cited (MLA). May I proceed with appropriate credit to you?

    If yes, I’ll follow your format in creating the same content modified to fit Apple Pages. Can do?

    Thank you for considering this request and for creating such a clear and concise article. ~~Vance

    • You are welcome to post an excerpt, including the table of contents, and a link to the current version of the full document as it appears on my website. If there are multiple copies of the article on the web, that could lead to some confusion that I’d like to avoid. Thanks for checking first.

  32. Hello Dennis

    You’re warmly invited to the 100th anniversary of RP/RPO, in person or otherwise. We’re releasing a new edition here later this month, assuming all goes well …

    best wishes,


  33. I just had to post! I Googled “show don’t tell writing” looking to find new ways to teach this to my 4th graders and I found this site. I graduated from Seton Hill in 1997! Can’t believe the coincidence. I am bookmarking your page. Thank you!

  34. Thank you for this site. I discovered it accidentally and it is a tremendous resource. An even funnier coincidence I discovered inadvertently is that you teach at Seton Hill – I was an undergrad at St. Vincent College way back in 1977 and took some courses (Lit & Drama) over at Seton Hill; back then Seton Hill was all female and St. Vincent was all male.

    Thanks again,

    Jerry Gillespie

    • Thanks for your comment. I attend St. Vincent Parish, and my kids attend enrichment courses taught by St Vincent education students, so I feel kind of attached to both places. I’m glad you found my pages helpful.

  35. Thanks for all the great information on MLA style papers. I refer my 7th grade students to your site.

  36. Hello,

    I am very glad to have found your web page. It was very informative! I was very discouraged this semester with my English class. I have never received a low grade on essays with very little feedback on areas I can improve. Your website was very helpful in helping me complete my research paper.



  37. Hey there Dennis I have to ask you something. I am writing a couple of short stories well stories that are like a series so I don’t know how you would call that. Mainly I would like to know how you would write it since I sometimes get 1st and 3rd person messed up a lot and I usually write in script format. I do enjoy writing it like that, but if I say want it to get published or something I may have to change the format and yea. Thanks for your help by the way.

  38. Dennis, Thank you, thank you for page on writing thesis statements. It’s great to find good resources out there to help students, and I particularly liked your breakdown of different parts of a thesis and the formulas you offer. I’ve seen similar things, but your site coalesced the information into language that students can understand. I adapted parts of that page into a Power Point (which I don’t use for every lecture, but I find it makes a nice change now and then, particularly if I have the students try writing their own work alongside it). If you would like a copy of the Power Point, feel free to let me know.

  39. Hello,

    I really enjoyed surfing around your site. I am required to present to an audience of 100 every year and your tips on oral presentations are great!

    I am also writing to ask you for permission to use some images that you scanned a long time ago on Karel Capek’s play, R.U.R.

    Could you please contact me if I could use the images that you scanned?

    Thank you!

  40. I would have liked to write and thank you but no email id is mentioned. I have posted a link to your article on “Show, Don’t (Just) Tell” in my blog. Thanks and I’ll follow your blog from now on.

  41. Just wanted to say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article "Somewhere Nearby is Colossal Cave: Examining Will Crowther's Original "Adventure" in Code and in Kentucky" in DHQ. As a native Kentuckian, outdoor enthusiast, and a geek it was with tremendous pleasure that I read your historical assessment.

    Thank you.

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