Details drive the news (new handout)

I have nothing against essays, but not every writing task requires an essay. I tell my students they will be more successful if they produce a narrative personal essay because it’s the right genre for the occasion, not because it’s the only genre they feel comfortable writing. This handout is my latest attempt to help them see important differences between writing essays and reporting the news. Cut the filler. Unnecessary…

William Zinsser: What Is Good Writing? (Clarity, Simplicity, Brevity, and Humanity.)

Most of the students in my “News Writing” class don’t want to be journalists, but they all want to make a living from their writing skills. I’m trying to emphasize some of the markers that journalists put into their work, in order to signal that their work is credible. For instance, one saying in journalism is “Get the brand of the beer, the model of the car, and the name…

Writing a news story calls on different skills than writing a traditional essay.

Updated an older instructional handout with a bunch of new examples and some fancy red/green color coding. To write a news story, you’ll use many of the skills that help you write good personal essays; however, the two kinds of writing have important differences, so what counts as “good writing” is also different. English Essay: Driven by your thoughtful analysis of long quotations from already-published sources (written by experts). It’s a…

The Digital-Humanities Bust

Dinosaurs evolved into birds. Not all of them, of course. Birds are so much a part of our environment that we barely notice them. I’ve said the same about weblogs. Monetized and platformized and app-ified, the basic functions of blogging live on — a reverse-sorted stream of posts, a mechanism to engage with visitors to your stream, and a mechanism for engaging with the authors of other streams. It is…

A Simple Plot for a Literature Review

There are two things you need any time you are stuck in writing. You need to set the course and steady the course. If you are stuck while writing a literature review, then each of these things– set the course and steady the course– have particular ways in which you can do them easily, and each have their particular threats to doing so. I think you’ll recognize the threats, so…

Emotional Intelligence Needs a Rewrite

I’ve recently processed and absorbed my recognition of the “left brain vs right brain myth.” (One side of the brain may work harder on some tasks, but there’s no evidence to suggest that whether a person is logical or creative has anything to do with how that person’s brain hemispheres relate to each other.) The classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was a literary exploration of the early scientific theories…