Instructor: Terri Giuliano Long



Writing the Personal Essay



Instructor: Terri Long 9/06/06-12/13/06
Office: McGuinn 100 W 6:30-9:00
e-mail: Room: Carney 103

Writing with Precision, Jefferson Bates
Advanced Word Power, Johnson and Gamer
Models For Writers, 9th Edition, Rosa
Elements of Style, Strunk and White

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Writing with Clarity, Precision and Style

If we hope to be properly understood—whether writing a business memo to an employer, a keynote address for a meeting or convention, a congratulatory note to an acquaintance, or an e-mail message to a friend or family member—our writing must be clear, concise and to the point. While the tone, diction or style we use may vary from one piece to another, the basic rules of good writing are always the same.

This boot camp course teaches the fundamental elements of memorable, well-crafted writing. Through a combination of reading, discussion, vocabulary-building assignments and writing exercises, students will learn to write with clarity, precision, focus, succinctness and style.

Grades: Grades will be determined as follows:

  1. Weekly vocabulary quizzes (Pass/Fail)—12 points
  2. Participation—5 points
  3. Vocabulary Unit Tests (5 tests)—25 points
  4. Writing Exams (2 exams)—24 points
  5. Final Writing Exam—36 points

102-95=A;  94-90=A-;  89-85=B+; 84-80=B; 79-75=B-; 74-70=C+; 69-65=C; 64-60=C-; 59 and below= F.

Conferences: I’m pleased to meet with you, to discuss whatever you’re working on—or just writing in general. So I’m able to put aside an appropriate amount of time for you, I ask that you schedule an appointment at least one class period before you would like to meet.

Above all, I hope you have a pleasant and rewarding semester.

Syllabus: Techniques of Precise Expression
Fall 2006

Please note: Written assignments must be double-spaced, 12 point type. Points will be deducted for essays longer than the assigned length.

W 9/06 Introduction
The Elements of Great Writing
Common Misconceptions
Class 1) Vocabulary 1-2
2) Read to Write 3) Models, Models, “Salvation,” Hughes, 220
4) The Writing Process
In-Class Exercise: Getting Started


W 9/13 Strength and Simplicity
Read: 1) Bates, Chapter 3
2) Models, “Simplicity,” Zinsser, 168
3) Models, “From An American Childhood,” Dillard, 215
Study: AWP—Chapters 3-5
Write: Write 2 paragraphs describing a recent experience
Class: Vocabulary, 3-5
1) Passive v Active Construction
a. When To Use The Passive Voice
2) Working with Nouns and Verbs
3) Noun Stacks and Nominalizations
In-Class Exercise: Simplify Your Life: Nouns and Active Verbs

W 9/20 Show, Don’t Tell
Unit Test Read: 1) Bates, Chapters 5 & 22
2) Models, “Be Specific,” Goldberg, 306
3) Models, “The Case for Short Words,” Lederer, 310
Study: AWP—Review 1-5, Complete 6-7
Class: Unit Test
Vocabulary 6-7
1) Concrete v Abstract, General v Specific
2) Little Words Tell a Big Story
In-Class Exercise: Paragraph in single-syllable words

W 9/27 Word Power
Read: 1) Bates, Chapters 7 & 20
2) Models, “Doubts About Doublespeak,” Lutz, 126
Study: AWP—Review 6-7, Complete 8-10
Class: Vocabulary—8-10
1) Word Cousins
2) Vague Words and Technical Jargon
3) Ambiguous Words-Shady Ideas
4). Word Pictures
In-Class Exercise: Word Pictures

W 10/4 Precision
Unit Test Read: 1) Bates, Chapter 6
2) Models, “On Being 17, Bright. . .” Raymond, 192
Study: AWP—Review 6-10, Complete 11-12
Class: Unit Test
Vocabulary 11-12
1) Sentences: Word Order Counts
2) Poor Sentences and Wedged-In Ideas
3) The Problem with Pronouns
4) Effective Transitions
Exercise: Revise for Precision


W 10/11 Logic and Order
Essay #1 Read: 1) Bates, Chapters 8 & 12
2) Models: “How To Revive a Computer,” Husted, 379
Study: AWP: Review 11-12, Complete 13-15
Write: Essay # 1: Write a one-page essay describing a recent experience
Class: Vocabulary 13-15
1) Putting ideas in order
2) Tying ideas together
3) Connecting Paragraphs
4) How-to-do-its
In-Class Exercise: Ordering Ideas

W 10/18 Unity & Coherence
Unit Test Read: 1) Models, Thesis (71) & Unity (90)
2) Models, “Anxiety: Challenge. . .” Collier, 80
2) Models, “My Name,” Cisneros, 94
Study: AWP: Review 10-15, Complete 16-17
Class: Unit Test
Vocabulary 16-17
1) Natural Progression
2) Focus—One Idea
In-Class Exercise: Round the Class Stories

W 10/25 Economy—Conciseness and Clarity
Read: 1) Bates, Chapter 4
2) Models, “Company Man,” Goodman 403
Study: AWP: Review 16-17, Complete 18-20
Class: Vocabulary 18-20
1) Make every word count
2) Revising for Power & Strength
3) The Writer’s Purpose
In-Class Exercise: Excise Your Writing
Note: Please bring a piece of your writing to class

W 11/1 Audience and The Writer’s Voice
Unit Test Read: 1) Bates, Chapters 9 & 10
2) Models, “As They Say, Drugs Kill,” Rowley 505
3) Models, “How to Write a Personal Letter,” Keillor, 374
Study: AWP: Review 16-20, Complete 21-22
Class: Unit Test
Vocabulary 21-22
1) Audience & Voice
2) Diction and Tone
3) How to Write a Great Letter
In-Class Exercise: Hire Me!


W 11/8 The Power of Sentences
Essay# 2 Read: 1) Models, “Who Saw Murder Didn’t. . .” Gansberg, 230
2) Models, “I Have A Dream,” King, 498
Study: AWP, Review 20-21, Complete 22-25
Write: Essay #2: Using the essay “My Name” as a model, write a one-page essay about your name.
Class: Vocabulary—23-25
1) Parallelism
2) Repetition
3) Sentence Patterns
a. Punctuating for Emphasis
In-Class Exercise: I Have a Dream

W 11/15 Start With A Bang
Unit Test Read: 1) Models, Beginnings and Endings, 133
2) Models, “Of My Friend Hector. . .” Kaufman, 140
3) Models, “Wounds That Can’t Be Stitched,” Russell, 151
Study: AWP, Review 20-25, Complete 26-27
Write: Copy the opening paragraph of your favorite piece of work. In one paragraph, describe the opening and why it works.
Class: Unit Test
1) Start with a Bang
In-Class Exercise: Effective Beginnings

W 11/29 Figurative Language
Read: 1) Models, Figurative Language, 270
2) Models, “A Hanging,” Orwell, 285
Study: AWP, 28-30
Class: Vocabulary 28-30
1) Description
2) Get the Most from Modifiers—adjectives and adverbs
In-Class Exercise: a) Modifiers
b) Describe yourself

W 12/6 Write to Revise
Unit Test Read: 1) Models, “Can I Get You Some Manners…” Scotty, 316
2) Models, “Why and When We Speak. . .” Marquez, 472
Study: AWP, Review 25-30
Write: Rough Draft of Final Essay—In one-page, write marketing copy promoting BC’s College of Advancing Studies
Class: Unit Test 1) Re-Envisioning—Writing is Revising
In-Class Exercise: Revise for Story and Structure

W 12/13 Final Exam
Write: Write (one page) marketing copy promoting BC’s College of Advancing Studies. Be sure the essay is clear, precise, dynamic and focused. Your grade will be based on the essay’s content, style, structure and mechanics.

Please Note: You must email your final essay by 6:30 on Wednesday, 12/13. Late essays will be significantly penalized.


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© 2005, Terri Giuliano Long
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