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Monthly Archives: January 2010

Outline an Argument (Technical Writing Exercise)

Tweet This week we finish our series on document structure, so I’d like us to take a moment to remember what that structure looks like. For your writing exercise this week, I want you to outline an argument. This argument can be the thesis of an essay or a defense of your position vis a […]

Courtney’s Work-In-Progress Update

Tweet A Sucker Born Every Minute When Aaron and I were discussing in what way I would be contributing to this blog, I told him he was allowed to give me one (1) assignment. He acknowledged this, seemed to agree to my terms–and then proceeded to give me assignments numbering two. That’s (2), if you […]

Introductions Are in Order

Tweet Or perhaps I should call it a Character Description. Whatever the case, I’m proud to announce’s newest contributing author, Courtney Cantrell. Courtney is the co-creator of our Facebook writer’s group, Mightier than the Sword, and one of my dear friends. Though we’d run in overlapping social circles for years, I met her through […]

Chart Your WIPs (Creative Writing Exercise)

Tweet WIPs, or Works-in-Progress, are often the favorite topics of creative writers. I realize now I was a fool to wait so long to invite you to talk about yours! That’s this week’s Creative Writing exercise, though. In light of our recent discussion of the various stages of manuscript development, I want you to tell […]

Writing in Drafts

Tweet Back in 2008, I was talking my good friend Julie into participating in National Novel Writing Month, and she expressed some concern that her writing wouldn’t be good enough. I thought about it for a moment, trying to figure out how to encourage her enough that she would go ahead with it, and at […]

Stressed and Unstressed Syllables

There are basically two standard ways of indicating stressed syllables: by adding a vertical stress mark after each stressed syllable, or by making each stressed syllable bold or UPPERCASE (or BOTH). You can see an example of the stress marks at, and you can see an example of the bold syllable at

Organize Your Ideas

Tweet About a year ago my wife informed me we were going to have a second child. It was something we’d been talking about for a little while, but then in an instant it became real. Immediately my heart was flooded with one, overwhelming emotion. I looked my wife in the eyes and said tenderly, […]

Email Context Audit (Business Writing Exercise)

Tweet I talked last week about the importance of writing good introductions to establish context (especially for readability down the line), and that message is never more important (or overlooked) than when you’re sitting down to write an email. We still occasionally run into the big formal business letters and memos on company letterhead, and […]

Start a Story (Creative Writing Exercise)

Tweet You had to see this one coming! After a week spent discussing introductions, it’s only logical to make that the assignment. But, more than that, it’s fun. Today you get to start a story you’ll never have to finish. Give it flash, give it bang. Promise big, and use up your entire special effects […]

The First Page

Tweet It was a dark and stormy night, when a couple of guys who were up to no good started making trouble in my neighborhood. True story. Nearly everything I said about introductions in Tuesday’s post, Negotiating a Connection, applies to Creative Writers just as much as it does to the Business Writers. The big […]