Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Year in Review...

As the end of the year draws nigh, reflect on some of the year’s best articles on writing with “The 19 Most Popular Articles on Writing of 2012" from Writer's Digest. The articles will address your most burning questions on writing, including “Snuck vs. Sneaked” and “50 Questions to Consider When Writing a Novel.” Happy holidays and happy writing!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Seeking: Excellent Writers

Do you have any "A" papers from this year? Consider submitting them to the Annual SNL Writing Showcase! Each spring, SNL Writing recognizes excellent submissions at the Spring awards luncheon. To view last year's winning entries and to download this year's application, please visit:

Monday, December 3, 2012

SNL Welcomes New Writing Instructor, Kamilah Cummings

I have always been intrigued by the power of communication regardless of the medium, and I believe that writing is one of the most powerful ways to communicate. After graduating from Columbia College with a bachelor’s degree in Arts, Entertainment and Media Management, I began entertainment writing for a variety of publications and clients. I continued to work as an editor and writer for a number of years moving from entertainment writing to investigative writing and everything between. Because of this, I decided to return to school where I received a master’s degree in journalism from Roosevelt University.

While earning my degree, I taught for the Chicago Public Schools, primarily at Morgan Park High School. I fell in love with the possibilities for learning and communicating that teaching offered, but felt constrained by the rigor of CPS teaching. Therefore, after earning my degree from Roosevelt, I began teaching college writing. I have taught college writing I and II, critical thinking, and developmental writing courses at a variety of schools in non-profit and for-profit settings including East-West University, Saint Xavier University, Morton College, and University of Phoenix Online. Through my experiences at these diverse institutions, I have come to enjoy teaching nontraditional students. I find that these students inspire me and constantly reignite my passion for teaching.
Prior to joining SNL, I was as a full-time English instructor at Westwood College for four and half years. One of the things that most excites me about SNL following my experience at Westwood is the focus on student learning and faculty development. The goals of the school appear to be focused on providing students with a quality, transformational educational experience that will benefit them beyond the classroom. My teaching philosophy is guided by that principle, so I could not be happier to join a group of faculty and administrators who share this belief.
When Dean Alicea quoted bell hooks during my interview and stated that she believed in “an ethic of care” in teaching, I knew that SNL was where I belonged.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Reflections from the 2012 SNL Month of Writing

In the thirty days from October 10 to November 8, fifty SNL students, faculty, and staff participated in the 2012 SNL Month of Writing Challenge. Each participant used the challenge differently; some used the challenge to begin new projects, some used it to focus on their school papers, and others used the challenge to help channel their creative writing juices. Two writers agreed to share from their experience over the month.

SNL Faculty member, Jane Wagoner, used the month to begin a blogging project. She says, “While I had never written a blog, I thought this month was the perfect time to begin my blogging career. The writing is different from what I have done before and a lot of fun. I find myself thinking of different topics to write about and reflecting on various literary works. So this month has helped me find my "blogging voice" and I am grateful for the extra motivation that the word count goal provided.”
SNL student, Nikki Knighten, took the 5-week SNL course that accompanied the Month of Writing titled, “WriteNow: National Novel Writing Month.” Nikki distilled some of her writings from the month into a poem, “Save Me from Myself”:
The cares of this world arouse me from sleep
I lay thinking, “will I make it through this day?”
I need you Lord to come to save me from myself.
I’ve grown stronger because of my trials. They are companions resting in the recesses of my mind. Always on the ready to move forward and profess the powers that are present. To testify of the muscles that have grown and developed because they had to; because they were strained by burdens and invisible foes. The fears of the past are done away with. Some making way for new ones; weaker, less threatening new fears which pale in comparison to the old fears "made of good stock." those old fears that shook my existence and made me question my sanity and alliances. Those fears of yesteryear were the "real thing baby"! They played for keeps and didn't easily die. These fears required Herculean tenacity that morphed into crazy faith and fearlessness. There are those who dare to say that my future may be gloomy and despair ridden and there are those who have the gumption to question my fate. Theirs is but one voice in the crowd and but one view on the horizon but the report which I choose to believe is the Lord's. His report is rich with His hope and saturated by His plans for me. I am convinced that they are "of good and not of evil, to an expected end." Whereas many have come and seemingly even more have gone but Your word lingers and abides. It exalts and admonishes, it encourages and it chastens. It punishes the slothfulness and it rewards the diligence.
How will you use the SNL Month of Writing next year? Since we are increasing our departmental goal to 1.5 million words for the 2013 challenge, we’ll need you on board next fall!

Celebrate writing on December 5th with the NWA

Neighborhood Writing Alliance
Publishers of the Journal of Ordinary Thought
Body Wisdom
A celebration of dynamic movement, creative community, and personal stories throughout Chicago
                                   When: Wednesday, December 5th, 2012
                                    Time: 6:00 - 8:00pm
                                    Where: Harold Washington Library Center
                                                  Pritzker Auditorium
                                                  400 S. State Street
Free and open to the public!

Monday, November 12, 2012

1,131,891 Words

The 2012 SNL Month of Writing has drawn to a close. From October 10 until November 7, SNL Faculty, Staff, and Students accepted the challenge to each write 50,000 words in a month. Our department goal  was 1 million words – and we did it! Collectively, SNL produced 1,131,981 words in just 30 days. In recognition of this accomplishment, an anonymous donor will be giving $1,000 to SNL Scholarships!
Special congratulations to these participants that surpassed the personal goal of writing 50,000 words each:
Heather Burlingame, SNL Student
Cynthia Flores, SNL Staff and Student
Cynthia Meehan, SNL Student
Michelle Navarre Cleary, SNL Faculty
Cindy Stevens, SNL Faculty
Shannon Stone, SNL Staff and Student
Steffanie Triller Fry, SNL instructor
Kathryn Wozniak, SNL instructor
This is will be annual challenge and we hope you will join us next year!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I'm First: A Resource for First Generation College Students

Are you a first generation college student? Check out, a website that features videos made by first generation students about their experiences, hopes, and dreams.

The mission of I’m First is as follows:

“I’m First is an online community founded by Center for Student Opportunity to provide first-generation college students with support, advice and encouragement on the road to and through college.

There’s something special about being first. The first in flight, first man on the moon, and the first African-American president. First kisses, first impressions, first place.

It’s time we celebrate those who are the first generation in their family to attend and graduate from college. I’m First collects personal stories from first-generation college graduates—and students who will be—putting faces and giving voices to who we are and inspiring the next generation of students who will be first.

Also featuring tools and resources to support aspiring first-generation college students on the road to college, I’m First is the community for those who need help in reaching this goal, those who have already achieved it, and those who support these students along the way.

We define “first-generation college student” as anyone whose parents or guardians have not completed a four-year college degree.”

The site also includes a blog feed and college search engine. Consider making your own video to share your story.

Friday, November 2, 2012

One Week to go!

SNL writers have been busy writing during the month of October! Now entering the last week of our 30 day challenge, we have surpassed the halfway point on our journey towards 1 million words!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bill Evans on the Creative Process

Do you ever find yourself writing vaguely about a topic because you haven't quite grasped it yet? In the below video, Bill Evans touches on the importance of first building a strong foundation in the creative process. Once you have the essential ideas down, you can then begin to make the material your own.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Don't do Citations; Let Microsoft!

 You do not have to format your citations or your bibliography, Microsoft or any number of other programs will do it for you. Whenever I talk to students about the challenges of writing academic papers, the topic of citations is sure to come up. Students will tell me about the time spent trying to get the formatting correct or about running out of time to do so and losing credit because their citations are a mess. Even worse is when students give up, leave out citations and risk plagiarizing.

Citations are important. They let your readers know who you are putting your ideas in conversation with. They establish that you are a credible writer, someone worth paying attention to. Because you have taken the time to consider what others have to say about your topic, readers know that you are not just spouting off whatever comes into your head in the moment.

The consistent formatting of citations is a courtesy that you do for your readers and a way for you to signal that you can be trusted because you know the rules of the game. When you use MLA or APA style, readers appreciate not having to spend time decoding your citation. And just as you would not wear shorts and flip flops to an interview for an office job, you can dress your paper for success by giving it the equivalent of an "interview suit": a title page or header with your name, course, assignment and date; a title; 12-point, double-spaced font; a basic font like Times or Ariel; and correctly formatted citations.

However, getting the commas in the right place is not the best use of your time. Instead, spend your time thinking about what you know and what you want to know (for brainstorming strategies, see Spend time finding sources that are credible (for guidance on evaluating sources, see and that help you think through the ideas for your paper. Spend time integrating these sources into your paper (for one way to do this, see 
As the videos below indicate, you can use Microsoft Word to format your citations and bibliography. The nice thing about this tool is that when you enter the information for a source once, you do not have to enter it again when you are working on a new paper. Similarly, Zotero is a free web-based tool. To learn more about it, see

So, let the computer do the busywork of putting the commas in the right place and use your time for the much more interesting (and challenging) work of exploring and communiating your thinking.

Craft of Composing Panel Discussion

On October 24th, SNL Writing hosted a panel discussion with 5 writers from different genres about their writing process titled, "The Craft of Composing".

The panelists included:

Michelle Navarre Cleary, SNL Writing Coordinator and Professor (academic writing)
Penny Pollack, SNL Alumnus and dining editor of Chicago Magazine (journalism)
Rita Leganski, SNL Alumnus and Novelist (novel writing)
Ann Stanford, SNL Professor and Author (scholarly articles, poetry)
Rochelle George Wooding, Neighborhood Writing Alliance member (personal narrative)

Three items that each panelist touched upon were

1) The importance of community
Writing is meant to be shared and written for a specific audience. 

2) Revision
Write first, edit later. Even if you need to make significant cuts later on, you may be able to use that writing elsewhere.

3) Presence of panic
Deadlines can be stressful, and so can negative critiques of your work. Remember that practice makes perfect; you will find your voice the more you write.

To listen to the full discussion, please visit:

Monday, October 22, 2012

New WRD Course for International Grad Students

Are you an International Graduate Student?

On Tuesday evenings (6:00-9:15) in Winter Quarter, Writing, Rhetoric, & Discourse will offer WRD 587, Academic Writing for International Graduate Students.  The course is specifically for international students who write English as a second language.  While the course will address features of grammar and style, it is not intended as a remedial writing course, but as an opportunity for students to self-consciously identify and practice Western academic writing competencies through an analysis of genres in their own disciplines.  Such an approach can lead to improved general competency in written English when supported by content-area instructors and augmented by visits to the University Writing Center.  

The course will be taught by Dr Jason Schneider.  Dr Schneider holds a PhD in English with a specialization in rhetoric and composition, and an MA in Applied Linguistics, for which he wrote a thesis on ESL pedagogy. Professor Schneider has taught Intensive English here in the US, and he's taught English as a second language at the International Language Institute in Cairo, Egypt, and at the International House Language School in Krakow, Poland.  Dr Schneider teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in WRD as a full-time faculty member. For more information, contact or 773.325.3727.   


Friday, October 19, 2012

We're on our way...

SNL students, faculty, staff, and alumni have been busy writing as part of the SNL Month of Writing Challenge this week! Let's keep the temperature rising...writing is hot!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Upcoming Chicagoland Writing Events

October 20th is the National Day on Writing! To celebrate, consider attending one of these upcoming local writing events…

On October 16th at 6:00pm, the DePaul President's Signature Series is hosting a talk with author Hector Tobar, "Latino Identity, American Identity, Artistic Voice: A Writer's Journey, A Community's Journey." It will be held at the DePaul University Student Center, 2250 N. Sheffield Ave. Room No. 314 A & B. RSVP to
The University Center for Writing-based Learning will be hosting an event titled, “Aloud! A public Reading of Non-fiction, Fiction, Essays, and Poetry” on Thursday, October 18th from 4 - 5:30pm, 2nd floor of Lincoln Park Student Center.
Haymarket Pub and Brewery is hosting The Drinking & Writing Festival 2012 on October 20th. Theme is “The Beats.” Visit:
Chicago Writing Association’s affiliate, In Print, hosts its 2nd Annual Book fair at Barnes & Noble Cherry Valley Mall on October 20th. Visit:
The SNL Month of Writing presents “The Craft of Composing: A Panel of Writers Discuss the Writing Process” on October 24th from 6- 7:30pm at 14 E. Jackson Blvd, Chicago, Il 60604 – Room 1328. For more information, email:
The Chicago Humanities Festival has many talks with authors and a competitive reading series. Dates are Oct. 21st and Nov. 1-11th. Visit:

Join a Neighborhood Writing Alliance Group. Visit:

Friday, October 12, 2012

SNL Month of Writing Challenge is Underway!

Today, October 12th, is the final day to sign up for the SNL Month of Writing Challenge (email: You can set your personal goal to be either higher or lower than 50,000 words - just make sure you spend time each week to improve your writing practice. The sentiment of the challenge is quantity over quality; first produce words and go back to edit them later. Author Simon Rich phrases the challenge's sentiment well in the New York Times Magazine piece, "Great Moments in Inspiration":

Simon Rich Author/Comedy Writer, “Last Girlfriend on Earth: And Other Love Stories”
“I’ve always been an obsessive New York Knicks fan, and John Starks is the closest thing to a messianic figure that I’ve ever known. It’s hard to overstate it, how much I loved watching him play. Starks set the Knicks record for most career 3-pointers and most career 3-point attempts, and the lesson I took from him is that if you shoot enough 3’s, some will eventually somehow go in. I’ve always been a quantity-over-quality kind of guy. I’ve thrown out a few terrible novels, I’ve thrown out two whole collections of short stories, I have hundreds of comedy pieces that are terrible that will never see the light of day. My feeling is I can’t really control how talented I am, but I can control how many hours I work and how many things I write.”
For helpful information about the writing challenge, please visit:
Happy Writing!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Debate Bingo

The University of Denver Writing program created the below bingo card to help viewers track the candidates' use of rhetorical strategies, logical fallacies, and predictable talking points. The vice presidential debate is tonight, October 11th at 8pm CST. The next two presidential debates are Tuesday, October 16th and Monday, October 22nd at 8pm CST.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Veterans: How Should We Teach College Writing?

Are you a Veteran who has taken a college writing class (like Academic Writing for Adults, Writing Workshop, WRD 103 or 104 or English 101) since returning to school after serving in the military? 

If so, we would like your thoughts on how the teaching and learning of writing and composition can be improved for Veteran students like yourself. You are cordially invited to participate in a focus group to discuss Veteran students’ experiences with writing conducted by Michelle Navarre Cleary of DePaul University. 

Pizza dinner will be served to all volunteer participants. 

All information discussed during the focus groups will remain confidential and you will remain anonymous in any publications associated with this research. 

The three focus group dates from which you can choose to attend are: 

  • Wednesday, 10/10, from 4:30 to 5:30 pmRoom 1439, Daley Building, 14 E. Jackson, Loop Campus 
  • Monday, 10/15, from 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm, Room 1439, Daley Building, 14 E. Jackson, Loop Campus 
  • Thursday, 10/18, from 4:30 to 5:30 pm, Room 1439, Daley Building, 14 E. Jackson, Loop Campus 

If you are interested or have further questions, please contact Michelle Navarre Cleary at with the session date you would like to attend.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

UCWbL Services

The UCWbL assists students, faculty, staff, and alumni through Face-to-Face appointments, Online appointments, Written Feedback by Email, and Quick Questions. In addition to these services, they also offer the following, which may be of interest to adult and commuter students:

  • Suburban Campus Writing Groups: These workshops meet each Saturday at the O’Hare campuses at 10:00 am-11:30 am (Room 307) and Tuesdays 4;30 to 6pm at Naperville (Room 220) and are facilitated by Peer Writing Tutors. Participants discuss their own writing and the work of others, honing critical reading, thinking, and analytical skills.
  • Writing Groups by Request: Students, faculty, staff, and alumni are invited to create their own “mobile” Peer Writing Groups and meet weekly at a time and a place on or off campus that is convenient for them. The UCWbL will provide a Tutor to meet with the group and will help foster the discussion between writers.
  • AP/ILP Forums: These forums allow SNL Writers to discuss their AP and ILP projects with other students, Writing Tutors, SNL faculty, and a research librarian. Because writers at all stages of their projects are welcome, these forums are great opportunities to share tips and get advice about these critical components of the SNL program. The dates of the forums are:
O'Hare: AP October 6th, 12:00 – 1:30 pm Room 307
Loop: ILP November 6th, 4:30 – 6:00 pm, Lewis 1600
Naperville: AP October 27th, 12:00 – 1:30 pm, Room 220
Oak Forest: ILP October 13th, 12:00 – 1:30 pm, Room 5440

Students may RSVP the event at AP Forum and ILP Forum or at

  • Creative Writing Groups: These groups operate like the Suburban Campus Writing Groups or the Writing Groups by Request, but with a focus on creative writing. Writers can give and receive feedback on fiction, poetry, or any other creative writing pursuit. As always, a tutor will be present to facilitate discussion. Creative Writing Groups can also be requested. A standing group meets on the Lincoln Park campus; please see the UCWbL website for days and times.
  • Faculty Writing Groups: Faculty Writing Groups assist professors at DePaul who want writing advice. Faculty might utilize these groups to get feedback on theses, manuscripts, dissertations, or other writing projects with peers. These groups will operate like Writing Groups by Request.

Friday, September 21, 2012

What to Write?

For those of you partaking in the SNL Month of Writing Challenge, you might already know the content of the project(s) you'll be working on -- but others might still be brainstorming topics!

For those in the brainstorming phase, here are a few ideas to get you started. Sometimes just getting 'pen to paper' can be the biggest challenge.

What are the first three things that come to mind when thinking of your project?

What is the book you always wanted to write?

Pick any object in the room you currently reside, and describe it in detail. Alternatively, start writing a piece from the object's point of view.

Have you thought about writing an ILP? View some examples on the SNL Writing Guide here.

The Writer's Digest releases a weekly writing prompt. You can also search for prompts by topic.

Don't miss the kickoff parties! Light refreshments will be served!

Tues, October 9th from 5:30 - 6:15pm at Naperville Campus, Room 140
Wed, October 10th from 5:00 - 5:45pm at Loop Campus, 14 E. Jackson Blvd., Room 1451
Wed, October 10th from 5:30 - 6:15pm at O'Hare Campus, Room 202
Thurs, October 11th from 5:30 - 6:15pm at Oak Forest Campus, Computer Lab

Interested in joining the SNL Month of Writing? Email today, or come to a kickoff party to sign up!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Join us for the SNL Month of Writing!

 I'm on my way to

From October 10 until November 7, SNL students, faculty, staff, and alumni will be accepting the challenge of each writing 50,000 words in a month. Join us in the effort to create 1 million words total - if we reach our goal, an anonymous donor will donate $1,000 to SNL Scholarships!
Email to register.
Kickoff parties week of 10/10! Stay posted for details by visiting here,

Monday, August 27, 2012

Fall Quarter 2012 Writing Classes

Please see below for a comprehensive list of writing courses offered at the loop, suburban campuses, and online this Fall Quarter 2012.

Loop Campus Offerings

LL 140
Writing Workshop
Hayes, Nicholas
H3J (Tuesday)

LL 150
Academic Writing for Adults
Meyers, Alan
L4 (Tuesday)

LL 150
Academic Writing for Adults
McGury, Carol
L4 (Monday)

LL 153
Writing Together – Writing Well: A Community Approach to Academic Writing and Personal Narrative
Triller, Steffanie &
Hurtig, Janise
A3A 14443
H1X 14444
H2X 14445
L4 14442
*L4 competence required (4 cr. hrs); May register for one additional competence
(2 cr. hr.) LATE START. Begins 9/13(Thursday)

AI 196
WriteNow: National Novel Writing Month
Triller, Steffanie
A5 16535
A2X 16536
FX 16537
Meets 10/10, 10/17, 10/24, 10/31, 11/7.
Can only be taken for one competence. (Wednesday)

Naperville Campus Offerings

LL 150
Academic Writing for Adults
Muller, William
L4 13077 (Wednesday)

LL 140
Writing Workshop
Navarre Cleary,
H3J 13125 (Wednesday)

Oak Forest Campus Offerings

LL 150
Academic Writing for Adults
Wozniak, Kathryn
HYBRID. Meets on ground 9/6, 9/13, 9/27,10/11, 10/25, 11/8 (Thursday)

FA 247
Thinking and Writing about Work
Muller, William
A1E 14786
A2X 14787
A5 14788
FX 14789 (Tuesdays)

O’Hare Campus Offerings

LL 140
Writing Workshop
Weidner, Diane
H3J (Wednesday)

LL 150
Academic Writing for Adults
Morris, David
L4 (Wednesdays)

SNL Online Offerings

LL 150
Academic Writing for Adults
L4 13330
Schmidt, Kathleen

LL 150
Academic Writing forAdults
L4 13332
Gilbert-Levin, Renee

LL 150
Academic Writing for Adults
L4 13334
Triller, Steffanie

LL 150
Academic Writing for Adults
L4 13336
Kutty, Nina

AI 176
Creative Writing
A1C 11698
A2A 11699
A5 11700
Dumbleton, Molia

FA 133
Editing Yourself and Others
L7 16094
H3D 16095
FX 16096
Greenberg, Michelle

FA 339
Professional Business Writing
FX 12007
H2X 12005
H3X 12006
Schmidt, Kathleen

LL 140
Writing Workshop
H3J 14204
Fitzpatrick, Kristin

LL 140
Writing Workshop
H3J 14206
Hemmerling, Joseph

Writing and Editing a Newsletter
FX 16093
Murphy, Douglas

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Do You Have a Story To Tell? Seats Remain Open in Two Fall Writing Courses that Provide Unique Opportunities to Work on Your Writing and Earn Necessary Competencies

Writing Together – Writing Well (Academic Writing for Adults)

Loop Campus, Thursdays
Competences offered: L4, A3A, H1X, H2X

In this special 6-credit hour section of Academic Writing for Adults, students will complete the work for the required L4 competency and get extra writing practice (and an extra competence) by participating in or leading a community writing workshop. Reading and writing topics for the course will ask the questions: What is literacy? How can education empower or disempower individuals or groups? What is the value of our stories? How can our stories teach others and ultimately change the world?

This is an excellent course for students looking to take just one course in a quarter that can fulfill the minimum credit hours necessary for financial aid. It is also an excellent course for anyone interested in writing, education, issues of power, democracy and class, and storytelling.
Faculty: Steffanie Triller and Janise Hurtig

WriteNow: National Novel Writing Month

Late Start, Loop, Wednesdays
Competences offered: A5, A2X, FX
Do you have a story to tell? If so, October/November is the time. In honor of National Novel Writing Month, SNL will premiere “WriteNow,” a 5-week course that invites students to write at least 25,000 words toward a novel, memoir, ILP, Advanced Project, or other long writing assignment. Beginning on October 10, students will have five weeks to reach their 25,000 word goal. Writing will happen both in class and as homework. Additional writing assignments will inspire reflection upon the creative process, and students will be required to present during the final week as the culminating project for the class.

Class meets Wednesdays in the Loop 10/10, 10/17, 10/24, 10/31, 11/7
Faculty: Steffanie Triller

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Incomplete/ Writing Bootcamps - Aug 22 and Aug 29!

Do you have an incomplete grade? A final project that is dragging on? Finish your missing assignments, ILP or AP through SNL’s Writing Boot Camps.
Attend one or more free, faculty-led sessions.

This program is designed for SNL students who currently have an incomplete grade on their transcript or students working on writing assignments.

Sessions offer a supportive academic environment, writing assistance, and help with library services so that students can get assignments completed.

Session Dates:

Wednesday, August 22, 5:30pm-9:00pm
Wednesday, August 29, 5:30pm-9:00pm

Session Location:

Loop Campus, Daley Building
14 E. Jackson Blvd., Room 1325, Chicago, IL
Refreshments will be served!

To Register: Email your name, DePaul ID number and the incomplete course title(s) you wish to work on to at least 3 days prior to your desired sessions (messages to this email are reviewed by DePaul / SNL college faculty and staff only).
Items to Bring to Session(s):  Please bring a flash drive, your copy of the incomplete contract, all
prior assignment preparation, including research material, assignment instructions, and assignment writing format (APA/MLA). Please let your faculty mentor know you plan to attend.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Publishing Panel Discussion in Elgin - Saturday, 8/11/12

Are you interested in publishing? If so, consider attending the upcoming panel discussion, "The State of Publishing," this Saturday, August 11th, 2012. It will be held from 1 - 4pm at the Gail Borden Public Library, 270 N. Grove Ave., Elgin, IL. This is a free event; light refreshments will be served.

The advertisement reads:

Book publishers have historically shied away from the City of Broad Shoulders. But the last couple of years have seen a growing number of small presses taking root in Chicago. Learn why these literary entrepreneurs are defying the sentiment that book publishing is a dying art and what they're doing to stay in the game. The talk, moderated by Elgin publisher George Rawlinson (State Street Publishing), will feature the creative forces behind four Chicago small presses: Victor David Giron (Curbside Splendor), Rick Kaempfer (Eckhartz Press), Mike O'Mary (Dream of Things), and Emily Victorson (Allium Press).

Following the discussion there will be an opportunity for attendees to "Meet the Presses" during a social networking "Writers Block Party." This free event is co-sponsored by the Chicago Writers Association, In Print and Author! Author! Book & Author Marketing Network.
The Gail Borden Public Library provides library meeting space as a community service. The library neither sponsors nor endorses this event nor the presenting individual(s) or organization(s).  

In order to reserve your spot, please visit here.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

When Zombie (Nouns) Attack!

In her NYT Draft editorial, “Zombie Nouns,” Helen Sword explores the overuse of nominalizations, or nouns formed from other parts of speech by adding a suffix like ity, tion, or ism. Sword postulates that while some people (read: attorneys, bureaucrats, academics) believe that nominalizations sound impressive, their use makes writing overly complicated and hard to understand, and thereby weaker. She calls them ‘…“zombie nouns” because they cannibalize active verbs, suck the lifeblood from adjectives and substitute abstract entities for human beings.”

When it comes to verbs, if to be or not to be is the question, then the answer is not to be! Strong writing avoids being-verbs and employs action-verbs, but nominalizations often relegate verbs to their being forms, i.e. the simple “indicate” becomes “may be an indication of.”  Also, Sword advises that structuring sentences around human subjects versus abstract concepts helps readers stay connected to the writing.

Sword writes,

        "At their best, nominalizations help us express complex ideas: perception, intelligence,   epistemology. At their worst, they impede clear communication. I have seen academic colleagues become so enchanted by zombie nouns like heteronormativity and interpellation that they forget how ordinary people speak. Their students, in turn, absorb the dangerous message that people who use big words are smarter – or at least appear to be – than those who don’t."

How often do you find yourself tempted to add an “ity” or “ism” to adjectives, verbs, or even other nouns? Find out if you are guilty of overusing nominalizations with this interactive tool, the Writer’s Diet test. The test allows you to input a sample of your writing and then gives automated feedback about which parts of speech need to be excised for more “fit” sentences.