Tag Archives: Writing

“This is Due Tonight” – How I Helped a Writer Improve on a Deadline

By Tony Ricks

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It was an hour past my lunchtime when a student opened my office door and asked if the Writing Center was open. The Writing Center had officially closed the previous week, as the university had now entered Finals Week. That left me, the Writing Center Director, to help. After we arranged a meeting time, I went to lunch with her paper in hand. It was due that night.

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Tools of the Trade: Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus

By Ron Fritze

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In this blog, I want to share with you what has become my favorite tool for putting some variety and spice into my writing. Check out the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus (2004) or OAWT for short. It is a great alternative to Roget’s Thesaurus because it is easier to use and works just as well if not a bit better. It is organized in a dictionary style and provides many synonyms listed in logical order. When appropriate, distinctions are made between formal and informal usages. Some entries also provide a few suggestions for antonyms. Examples of sentences that demonstrate usage of a word are also provided. Take the word “bad.” The OAWT gives twelve different general ways that “bad” can be used. Well over 150 synonyms and antonyms for “bad” are supplied. So if you mean “bad” in the sense of “the bad guys”, it gives alternatives like “corrupt,” “reprobate,” or “crooked” among others. If you mean “bad” in the sense of a “bad child,” it suggests “naughty,” “wayward,” or “undisciplined” among others. Remember, there are often subtle differences in meaning and connotation between some of the alternative suggestions. They are not necessarily inter-changeable parts. Keep your dictionary handy so that you can pick out the word that works best for your situation.

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Tools of the Trade: The Roget’s Thesaurus, Old School

By Ron Fritze

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“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” Mark Twain
When it comes to advice on writing well, Mark Twain is someone to be heeded. One of the problems that any writer continually faces is maintaining the variety of their word usage. If you are not careful, you can end up using the same word over and over again. To your reader that practice comes across as dull and boring and may cause them rightly to question the extent of your vocabulary. So how do you get some life in your vocabulary and get from the “lightning bug” word to the “lightning” word? Answer, the thesaurus, a word book of synonyms and related concepts.

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Tools of the Trade: Writing

By Ron Fritze

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Students periodically ask me for advice about succeeding in college.  I have a lot of advice but on this occasion I want to focus on one key piece of advice.  We live in a world where technology is touted as the end of education.  That is not true, technology is a tool, it is means to gain an education.  The end in education for a student is learning.  Sure it is a big help if you have a laptop to assist with your studies.  Blackboard and similar learning management systems are great tools.  But the bottom line is this—a person needs to want to learn.  And learning means work.  Besides the high tech tools, there are also some tried and true low tech tools that will help you to improve your writing.  But You have to take the time to use them.

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