Graduate Writing

Writing Tips from Our Coaches

  • In Memorium: David Bowie, Great Communicator As you have probably heard, the legendary rock musician David Bowie died of cancer January 10th. While Bowie might not seem a likely choice of someone to honor in a writing blog like this one, his life (to me) seems to present clear evidence that, while communication is always changing, good writing is still very important. As one example, consider the fact that Bowie’s hit “Space Oddity” was the first song performed in orbit: during a broadcast from the International Space Station. The song, while also musically well constructed, is driven by its simple narrative structure and by its use of more than a single perspective; words come from both an individual character (Major Tom) and a collective character ...
    Posted Jan 22, 2016, 8:55 PM by Daniel Roberts
  • Editing Tip #5 - Minimize Hedge Words When spell-check dictionaries hit word processors, proper spelling entered more people's daily consideration. Eventually, tools for automatically checking grammar changed people's daily experience of language yet again. This morning, I heard a report on KPCC about a new plugin called “Just Not Sorry” for Gmail that adds a third item that can now be marked on text: hedge words. For instructions on using the plugin, go Just Not Sorry - Google Chrome Plugin. Hedge words are words that limit the all-inclusiveness of an otherwise absolute statement. For example, ''Dogs are awesome” makes a universal claim about all dogs, whereas “Most dogs are awesome” speaks about canine tendencies without claiming that absolutely all dogs must fit the description ...
    Posted Jan 8, 2016, 2:40 PM by Daniel Roberts
  • New Doctoral Coach, Expanded Hours APU's Writing Center is pleased to announce the addition of a second doctoral writing coach, Dr. Lisa Madrigal. Dr. Madrigal holds a PhD in Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute, an MS in TESL from the University of Southern California, and a BA in French Literature from Wheaton College. She has over 16 years of experience teaching composition and business writing to undergraduate and graduate students and has over a decade of experience working with doctoral candidates as they complete their concept papers and dissertation writing requirements. She specializes in helping students overcome writing blocks and works with students to encourage their overall writing success. Lisa will be located on the Azusa campus and is currently available for face-to ...
    Posted Oct 5, 2015, 8:13 AM by Basil Considine
  • Editing Tip #4 - Reduce the Number of Adverbs To craft strong sentences, we must give our verbs power and our nouns clarity, placing both of them at the beginning of the sentence. If we really let this rule sink in, we can see that the verb dominates the central meaning of our sentences.  The noun, after all, only shows a detail about how the action of the verb was performed. It identifies the source of the verb's action, so--in a very real sense--it modifies the verb. Nouns play a subordinate role to that action of the verb.Why does most writing advice warn against passive verbs? Because the verb is the sun at the center of the solar system that is the sentence. Nouns might ...
    Posted Sep 25, 2015, 2:39 PM by Daniel Roberts
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Writing Center Newsletters

  • April Newsletter - We are here all summer!
    Posted Apr 15, 2015, 8:09 AM by Rebecca Cantor
Showing posts 1 - 1 of 15. View more »

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Writing Refresher Course

Need more ideas on the writing process? Like audiobooks? Why not try the free Open University "Start Writing Essays" course hosted on iTunes? With fourteen audio lessons and three essays, this can get you right back in the swing of things.

More free, in-depth University courses that are available online are listed on this page.