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I can put together words so that they sound nice. I can't write. Why?

All my life, people have complimented me on my abiity to write well. In middle and high school, it was writing good chapter summaries, literary analyses and essays for homework using flowery language. In college, it became about construction and the flow of ideas, and I found myself to be reasonably adept at that as well. I'm currently jobless ( looking for my first job at 25), and when people chime in with suggestions on how to fix that, they can't understand why I poo-poo the idea of writing professionally out of hand. Help me develop my writerly mind and get myself out of the English class for good. [more inside]
posted by marsbar77 on Aug 7, 2014 - 25 answers

Advice for confident everyday writing?

I'm looking for related resources (online & offline) for improving my writing skills for everyday work. [more inside]
posted by chrono_rabbit on Jul 20, 2014 - 9 answers

I want to move my career in a different direction.

I graduated with an M.A. in English and through luck, contracting, and family connections, came to work in nuclear power. My administrative role has changed to field work. I prefer office work, especially writing reports etc. My area in nuclear is very specialized, and due to downsizing in the industry, I feel a real need to get familiar with my prospects for other jobs and diversify my skills. However, I have no idea how to begin, research being one of my weak points. Long explanation + details inside. [more inside]
posted by glass.hourousha on Apr 3, 2014 - 7 answers

Help me find some U.S. elementary school study aids from the mid '80s.

Tryin' to track down a portfolio of English reading/writing laminated bifold four page workbooks. [more inside]
posted by coolxcool=rad on Mar 20, 2014 - 6 answers

What has happened to the past perfect tense?

I've recently noticed an irritating trend in English-language writing: sections that really should be written in the past perfect tense are instead in the simple past tense. I've seen this more in American English than in British English, but that might just be confirmation bias. Is there a reason for this, for example a new style of teaching in schools or universities? And is it really new, or am I just looking for things to get annoyed about? [more inside]
posted by daisyk on Dec 14, 2013 - 30 answers

Is my writing style overly complicated?

I learned English as a second language (native is Finnish). The emphasis in school was on vocabulary and very basic grammar; we did not to my recollection deal with stuff like passive voice etc. So in terms of writing in English, much of my "voice" has developed simply from what sounds right inside my head. However, I've been told that the way I write is overly complicated. Is this so? [more inside]
posted by Unhyper on May 22, 2013 - 48 answers

The visual equivalent of 'Prisencolinensinainciusol'

There are Latin fonts designed to mimic Cyrillic, Asian characters, and many other scripts. What are some examples of foreign-script fonts which mimic Latin characters?
posted by Gordafarin on Mar 30, 2013 - 4 answers

As indicated below, the headline is a reference to same.

How do you edit writing written in a different dialect than your own? I'm very soon going to be responsible for editing some English technical/business writing by a team in a highly multilingual south-Asian country. [more inside]
posted by TheNewWazoo on Dec 2, 2012 - 10 answers

pulitzer drafts

Years ago Jack Hart, the esteemed editor and writing coach at The Oregonian, posted the rough drafts of Tom Hallman's Pulitzer winning story The Boy Behind the Mask somewhere online. Perhaps to a writers'/journalists' forum or mailing list. One editor's reaction to seeing the progression of the story through the drafts was to call it the most instructive lesson he'd ever had in newspaper writing. Help me track down those drafts!
posted by AceRock on Nov 26, 2012 - 0 answers

Horses for courses... UK vs US English?

I'm a writer - with a British English education. I've just finished a young adult novel that I'm polishing to go on submission. Should I be making sure everything is in US English? [more inside]
posted by teststrip on Jun 13, 2012 - 29 answers

Sources explaining why you shouldn't put a comma after the year when a date is used as an adjective?

Sources explaining why you shouldn't put a comma after the year when a date is used as an adjective? [more inside]
posted by flod logic on May 16, 2012 - 18 answers

How different is different?

English language friends: Why do we use the word “different” when it doesn’t appear to be necessary? [more inside]
posted by bryon on Apr 17, 2012 - 18 answers

Know a good wordbook?

E.B. White and George Orwell both suggest that short, lively Saxon words are often better than long Latin ones. This rule has helped my own writing, but my thesaurus is still full of Greek and Latin. Is there a thesaurus that includes only Anglo-Saxon synonyms? Even better, is there one sortable by origin?
posted by ecmendenhall on Mar 3, 2012 - 2 answers

Reading on Research in the Digital Age

Summer short course filter: Fun readings on the internet, the future, and research in the digital age for high school teachers. Help a librarian plan a syllabus! [more inside]
posted by activitystory on Apr 28, 2011 - 5 answers

Show, don't tell!

Tutoring two 2nd-grade students in writing more creatively. I'm a creative writing grad student, so no sweat right? Wrong. Their first language isn't English. [more inside]
posted by joyeuxamelie on Apr 19, 2011 - 10 answers

No, commas are not added like salt and pepper (to taste)

I'm teaching a humanities course at an open-admission college. The students are extremely poor writers, and have almost zero knowledge of English grammar. This semester, I want to help them avoid comma splices, since that's one of the top three issues I see in their papers (spelling errors and sentence fragments being the other two). Can you help me design a lesson/activity to help them? [more inside]
posted by philosophygeek on Jan 11, 2011 - 16 answers

Creative or English Literature masters?

I'm currently finishing my last English Literature Honors paper and aim to continue academic study. My dilemma is that I am unsure of whether to apply for an English Literature MA or a Creative Writing MA. [more inside]
posted by New England Cultist on Aug 12, 2010 - 18 answers

My poor English ability will continue to hold me back professionally and life in general if I don't find a way to improve it.

Poor English is holding my American Dream hostage. [more inside]
posted by anonymous on May 1, 2010 - 58 answers

Tips to study for Praxis I

I Need to take and pass PRAXIS I asap. I looked at the sample questions on ETS website. My strongest area is math followed by reading. On the writing section, I feel I can do well on the essay as it seems natural to me but the technical terms used for grammar, etc, get me lost. So i am looking for advice to study all three parts, especially the technical English stuff. Should I buy the books from ETS? Are there better options? Thanks!
posted by lake59 on Feb 11, 2010 - 4 answers

Difficulty of writing and speaking English?

Is English much more difficult than most languages to speak and to write? [more inside]
posted by ragtimepiano on Nov 23, 2009 - 37 answers

Tell me about this sentence construction

Tell me everything you know about this sentence construction: "Are you finished your lunch?" [more inside]
posted by peep on Oct 22, 2009 - 91 answers

Some say I have a way with words.

You are a paid writer/screenwriter/columnist/blogger. What can you tell me about how to best break into this profession? [more inside]
posted by the NATURAL on Oct 12, 2009 - 13 answers

Want to write a biography

I've fallen in love with a certain older British character actor and want to write his biography...where do I begin? [more inside]
posted by frosty_hut on Sep 4, 2009 - 5 answers

it depends on how you use matters and depends.

Help explain why my writing partner constantly uses a word in a way I find weird and incorrect. A question that anyone can answer. [more inside]
posted by Doctor Suarez on Aug 18, 2009 - 54 answers

How can I become a better writer in English?

Help me be a better writer in English (as a second language) [more inside]
posted by papalotl on Jul 30, 2009 - 16 answers

Can you recommend articles on work or the workplace?

I am a community college English instructor, and I am working on structuring my Comp I class around the theme of work. Can anyone recommend some thoughtful articles, websites, books (easily excerpted), etc. about work or the workplace? Most of my students have limited reading comprehension skills, so I can’t use anything that is too specialized or advanced. I’m looking for articles on the level of Time or Newsweek. Thanks!
posted by alspeigh on Jul 3, 2009 - 23 answers

Insert a witty title of your choosing.

What does a copywriter do, and would I like doing it? [more inside]
posted by santojulieta on Nov 5, 2008 - 15 answers

Kate Chopin's "The Awakening"

I am trying to get a better understanding of Kate Chopin's "The Awakening" **Spoiler Alert** [more inside]
posted by madmamasmith on Jul 28, 2008 - 13 answers

Where Can I Find Self-Reflective Profiles?

Where can I find examples of profile-writing that say as much about the profiler as the profilee? [more inside]
posted by themadjuggler on Jul 8, 2008 - 10 answers

How to write movie descriptions?

How do I write short (ca. 150 words) and engaging descriptions of movies in English without sounding too subjective (I don't want to use the first person POV)? The people reading will be average movie goers. Any tips, examples or links that you can recommend? Many thanks!
posted by Foci for Analysis on Mar 20, 2008 - 8 answers

The subject verbs the object

Explain tenses to me? Past/present/future, continuous/simple/perfect, and so on, in English. I can use them with fluency, but I need to be able to explain them (when each is used, how to form them). I've tried Fowler's, Chicago Manual of Style, and a number of other resources, but they seem to subtly contradict one another. Is there a simple, go-to reference for this?
posted by sarahkeebs on Sep 28, 2007 - 16 answers

Suggest some similar similes!

Help me come up with an evocative simile that conveys a profound but unemotional appreciation of a thing. My existing, imperfect prose is inside for your delectation. [more inside]
posted by perissodactyl on Aug 4, 2007 - 22 answers

826Indonesia?

What activities can I suggest during a workshop on designing awesome creative writing assignments for overworked ESL teachers to use in class? (In Indonesia?) (With learners across many levels?) (For little/no money?) (Without Powerpoint?) [more inside]
posted by mdonley on Jan 18, 2007 - 5 answers

Why are people using ellipses instead of a period?

What has happened to people being able to properly use a single period to end a sentence? [more inside]
posted by The Bishop of Turkey on Dec 13, 2006 - 73 answers

Hand writing and note-taking

I am an ESL teacher, and I have several types of classes; however, I have one problem, my handwriting looks as if I were a five year old scribbling with a crayon. So I am curious if anyone might have any suggestions on getting better at handwriting and printing for someone who doesn't have time to go to a course. Also, a second related question, are there any ideas for making conversation corrections? When my students are speaking, I write down various things that they are saying, and make various corrections, or simply offer alternatives, or local dialect. What are some of the most effective and useful ways to do this? If there are any people who have spent any time learning other languages, what ahs helped you most? Thank you all in advance.
posted by Knigel on Oct 24, 2006 - 12 answers

What essays for freshman composition?

Pimp my freshman composition class: what essays would you put on the syllabus? [more inside]
posted by wheat on Jul 27, 2006 - 30 answers

Kiss my 'S-es'.

What's the deal with expressing ownership on names that end in 's'? If I had a buddy named 'Loveless' and wanted to talk about his pet dog, I would write "Loveless' pet dog". But I would clearly pronounce the exact same sentence like "Lovelesses pet dog". Doesn't that suck?
posted by fucker on Nov 23, 2005 - 22 answers

Good dictionary for a writer?

Which dictionaries would you recommend as a gift for a writer friend? [more inside]
posted by hootch on Apr 27, 2005 - 35 answers

Italics etiquette for CD inserts?

PunctuationFilter: I'm writing the copy for a CD insert booklet in which the title of a book is mentioned. Typically, I'd italicize it, but the entire piece is already in italics. What's the standard here?
posted by plexiwatt on Dec 6, 2004 - 18 answers

"Normative"

What does "normative" mean? Is it a useful word? I only ever see it used in obscure, academic writing, which makes me suspect it's worthless. How is it different from "normal"? My dictionary says it means, "Of, relating to, or prescribing a norm or standard: normative grammar." That sounds like "normal" to me, so why not just say "normal"? Can someone give me some clear sentences that use the word -- sentences that are not written in post-modern, complit speak? Can one use "normative" meaningfully in a sentence about real-world things, like butter, eggs or bricks?
posted by grumblebee on May 21, 2004 - 24 answers

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