Writing Well in SoCal Starts This Spring

Solving America’s writing crisis is an enterprise we don’t expect to fix in just one season. Since writing well takes time and effort, how could we? But that doesn’t mean we can’t do the right thing by getting the issue back in the educational forum. How do we plan on doing so? Well, if you’re reading this, then we’re off to a good start. In addition, we have an exciting “writing well” announcement coming your way, Orange County! Until then, continue reading, sharing, and interacting with our posts on our blog; as well as on Twitter.

“Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.”  – E.B White

When I graduated from MSU this past summer I already knew I had an advantage over my contemporaries – most of them at least. While the other business students were filling up their obligatory elective credits with classes such as “business golf,” I was busy getting an English Minor in film studies. I’m not saying I was right and they were wrong. In fact, many of them learned valuable things in such classes. I’m just saying I was given the chance to learn how to write.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “learn how to write in college?” To put it simply, many students enter college with poor writing skills; then pursue degrees such as business and engineering that don’t require much writing. It’s a skill every student must practice daily, so if you’re taking courses where there are never large writing assignments, then you’re going to start losing what you had. Most students cringe at the thought of a paper more than two pages in length, but why? I argue, due to a lack of understanding, the writing just doesn’t come easy. If you were an incompetent piano player, then the longer the piece, the more grueling the session.

TutorNerds is here to assist in any way we can. To compliment our private in-home tutoring, we use social media to share tools, tips, and other sources of literary interest we find useful. Below are five books we believe will get you writing well, Orange County!

5. The Elements of Style – William Strunk, Jr. & E. B. White

Written by American author E. B. White (Stuart Little) and Cornell University English Professor William Strunk, Jr., The Elements of Style is a legendary guide used by teachers, students, and everyone in between. The book consists of “Elementary Rules of Usage,” “Elementary Principles of Composition,” “A Few Matters of Form,” “Words and Expressions Commonly Misused,” and “Words Commonly Misspelled.” Read this one once a year.

4. Roget’s Thesaurus – Peter Roget

Growing with every new edition, Roget’s thesaurus began as a 15,000 word compilation to assist writers in finding the right synonyms and antonyms. Every student should have this on his or her desk.

3. Writing Tools – Roy Peter Clark

Without being pretentious or condescending, Clark illustrates the proper tools every writer should have in order to construct competent work. He admits, “Americans do not write for many reasons. One big reason is the writer’s struggle.” With that claim comes a certain empathy for many students’ situation. Further, you’ll find the references and stories scattered amongst the 50 essential strategies as an enhancement to the books overall readability.

2. On Writing Well – William Zinsser

Zinsser may come off as the kind of professor you’d be terrified to see on your schedule, yet it shouldn’t stop you from listening to his sound advice. For example,

“Clutter is the disease of American writing. We are a society strangling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills and meaningless jargon.”

1. The Classics

From Jane Austen to Tom Wolfe, reading the classics is the best way to learn how to write well. Like athletes eating healthy foods to enhance their workouts, writers should read the best literature to enhance their writing. How better to learn sentence structure than from the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald? Their writing moves, works, and inspires. So ask yourself when reading, why does it work? On the other hand, reading poorly written literature is a great way to learn how not to write… cough, Twilight, cough.

With so many other excellent writing sources, it’s hard to cover them all. Please share your favorites with us, Orange County! Please pin, tweet, post, or any other creative way you can think to spread the word: “Writing well is important.” Write well, write smart, and write often.

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