Tag Archives: writing strategies

Anything Goes Wednesday: Plotting the Plot

22 May

Daily Mail published a fascinating article that showcases the many different ways authors organize their ideas, plots, characters, and so forth. Check it out here.


ABOVE: JK Rowling’s plot plans for Harry Potter

How do you organize your thoughts for any writing that you do? Are you a fan of the mind map? Looping? Or maybe outlining? Perhaps you do something totally different – share it with us!


Writing Tip Thursday: PEEL your Paragraphs

9 May


A Tale of Two Voices: Active & Passive

7 Feb


Voice is the way in which an action verb relates to its subject and there are two ways this happens: active and passive.

Passive Voice – The subject of the sentence receives the action. A passive sentence typically combines a be verb with a past participle

The latest vampire movie, Dusk, was derided by most critics.

Active Voice – The subject of the sentence is “performing the action or causing the happening denoted by the verb.”

Most critics derided the latest vampire movie, Dusk.

An easier way to think about it? Active makes the subject do something while something is told about the subject in the Passive.

Active voice is nearly always preferred as those sentences are more direct and straightforward.

EXCEPTION! When the action or direct object is more important than the actor, use the passive.

A groundbreaking study in genetics was performed at Stanford last week.

While the subject (Stanford) is important, we care more about the object (groundbreaking study).

How to Spot the Passive

– To Be or Not to Be

Keep an eye out for the be verbs (is, are, was, were, has been, etc.), which are usually in front of another verb.

We were invited to the movie premiere of Dusk.

– Don’t Buy the By

Look for the preposition by and if the person or thing doing the action (i.e. the subject) is right behind it, you have a passive sentence.

We were invited by the director to the movie premiere of Dusk.

– Find the Verb, Find the Actor

Locate the verb. Find the person or thing (subject) doing the action in the verb. If you can’t find the subject, you likely have a passive sentence.

The bouncer was told to refuse our entry. {Whoever told the bouncer is the subject}

How to Fix It

Place the subject BEFORE the verb instead of after it. Voila!

The director invited us to the movie premiere of Dusk; however, the producer told the bouncer to refuse our entry. Most critics derided the film so we didn’t mind that we missed it.

Need help with your passive sentences?

The Writing Center is open from Mon-Fri 2:30-4:30pm. You can sign up in the Library – main counter – or email me a day/time at lincolnwriting@gmail.com


New Printable: Writing an Introduction & a Conclusion

17 Jan

Hot off the presses – a new printable. If you’re having trouble writing an introduction and/or conclusion, check out these formulas.

Pando Package

Some New Goodies

8 Jan

new stuff

I’ve been working, when time permits, on creating a library of printables for the Writing Center. And now, I’ve finally figured out an easy way to share them electronically – yay! You can find them by clicking Printables (upper right beneath the title of the blog) or by scrolling down (right hand column, directly underneath Recent Posts). You can also find hard copies at the Writing Center (white binder behind our table).

So far, there are only a handful but I aim to have many, many more by the end of the year. If you need help with breaking down your assignment, writing an abstract, crafting a hook, or creating transition, then check out one of the Writing Center printables.

Is there an issue you’d like us to address? Leave a comment & I’ll create an info sheet ASAP.

Writing an Introduction: The Hook, Part 2

16 Nov

Just a Few Avenues to Explore…

There are any number of ways to write a hook & if you keep pushing yourself with the questions from this post, you’ll undoubtedly find your way. But just in case you’re still struggling…

— Remember: your hook MUST be related to your topic, regardless of which method you use.

* Interesting Anecdote/Story
Ray Bradbury’s nightmare isn’t full of robots but rather of men who play a dangerous game with their toys.

* Thought-Provoking Quotation
“I don’t think the robots are taking over. I think the men who play with toys have taken over. And if we don’t take the toys out of their hands, we’re fools.”

* Startling Statistic/Interesting Fact
“69 percent of children aged 2-5 can use a computer mouse, but only 11 percent can tie their own shoelaces.” Or better yet, put the statistic into your own words. More young children today can use a computer than dress themselves.

* Descriptive Image
Small, glowing lights flicker in the faces of the dazed children, their heads bowed down at the same angle. Barely audible clicks reverberate off the dusty books. It’s just another day in the library where more attention is paid to phones than to books.

* Succint, Powerful Statement
Kill your television.

* Leading Question
How is the pathway to happiness and equality paved by burning books? This leading question would work for an essay that analyzes Beatty’s motivations. NOTE: If using a question  make sure it is NOT one that can be answered with a simple yes or no response.

The Writing Center is open from Mon-Fri 2:30-4:30pm. You can sign up in the Library – main counter – or email me a day/time at lincolnwriting@gmail.com

An Essay Writing Tool

1 Nov

I’ve been posting a lot lately about the various elements of an essay starting at the pre-writing stage to writing and revising the rough draft. I’m also in the middle of breaking down the two hardest paragraphs of an essay – the introduction and the conclusion. For the introduction, you’ve got the hook and the map. The conclusion posts will come next week.

In my research for the above posts, I came across a handy-dandy online tool – the Essay Map. It’s a plug-and-play model and not one that you’ll want to count as spitting out a final draft but in terms of organizing your ideas and argument, it looks pretty good.

Has anyone used this tool before? Or do you have a recommendation for something better? Let us know in the comments.

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