I have been teaching teens to write for a quarter of a century (Twenty-five years just sounds longer when you put it that way, doesn’t it?), and the online writing instruction service I founded, WriteAtHome, has been in business for a dozen years. In all that time we’ve learned a lot about how to teach writing effectively. Here are ten of the most important.
There are four kinds of sentences; each of them accomplishes a different purpose. Every sentence you speak or write either states something, asks a question, gives an order or expresses some kind of emotion. Go ahead — try to write a sentence that does do one of these four things. I bet you can’t do it.
The Hero enters the Mythological Woods by crossing the Threshold. He journeys through strange yet deeply familiar forces, learning new rules and being tested, overcoming obstacles and conflicts.
I was going through old files recently and came across an article I photocopied out of a magazine many years ago called “How To Write Good.” The article published the list “author unknown,” but a quick Google revealed the original author to be (I suppose) Frank L. Visco. It was originally published in the June 1986 issue of Writer’s Digest.
I just returned from a trip-of-a-lifetime with my family. Northern Ireland, with a day trip to Dublin, and almost a week in London. So many sites and many fond memories. But don’t worry — I won’t turn this blog into a travel memoir.
But this is a blog about language, and therefore an appropriate place to talk about the strange reality that dialects within English can make it difficult to understand one another. For example, I had the following conversation with a typically friendly taxi driver in Belfast about our visit to the just-opened Titanic exhibit (FYI: the ship was built in Belfast).