Monday, March 2, 2015

Scrivener for poetry (link to Red Sofa Salon)

Hila Ratzabi of Philly's Red Sofa Salon recently posted a great piece: 10 Ways to Use Scrivener for Poetry Manuscripts. I've been curious about Scrivener Writing Software for some time and Hila's post really explains how it works. I hope you enjoy it!

Have you used Scrivener for poems, prose, plays or screenplays? What did you think about the program?

Click through for more pieces here by and about Hila Ratzabi

Monday, February 23, 2015

Upcoming Classes at Politics & Prose Bookstore

Take a class this spring at Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C. (and stay to shop like President Obama!) I'll be offering a four week Mixed Level Memoir Writing Workshop and a single session Memoir Writing: Possible Moral, Ethical & Legal Issues, co-taught with Martha Ertman. I encourage you to register for both together, since they are connected (although you can choose to take only one, if you prefer.)

Don't hesitate to email me with any questions about the classes (chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com.) The memoir writing workshop does fill up quickly; I encourage you to register today.

Class details below:

Mixed Level Memoir Writing Workshop
Four Tuesdays: April 14, 28, May 5, 12, 1 – 2:30 pm
Politics & Prose Bookstore (Washington, D.C.)
For more details and to register through the bookstore, click here

This class is for you if you are thinking about starting a memoir or have already begun writing. You are also welcome if you simply want to try a new writing genre.
This four session workshop will help you write a memoir by breaking it down into a collection of linked personal essays. Participants will respond to writing prompts, workshop one essay draft, and discuss on-going projects. We will consider issues of editing, revising, organizing research and chapters, and publishing. Students will receive feedback from peers and the instructor.

No homework is due for the first day of class. Please bring paper and a pen (or charged laptop) to every class. You will be writing in-class and at home after the first session. In-class writing prompts will change every session; you are welcome to take this class more than once.

As a supplement to this course, I encourage you to register for Ethics of Memoir: Possible Moral and Legal Issues, which I co-teach with memoirist and law professor, Martha Ertman.

Memoir Writing: Possible Moral, Ethical & Legal Issues
One Session: Tuesday, April 21, 1 – 3 pm
Politics & Prose Bookstore (Washington, D.C.)
For more details and to register through the bookstore, click here.

Writing about oneself inevitably impacts others. How do we morally, ethically and legally portray living or deceased people in our memoirs? Martha Ertman, memoirist, attorney, and professor and memoir writing workshop instructor Chloe Yelena Miller will discuss these issues. Come with questions for the Q&A session in the second half. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Nuts & Bolts: Writing Resources

Here are some of my favorite - free! - resources for grammar, punctuation and research documentation help.

Purdue Online Writing Lab
This is my favorite site for APA/MLA guides. 

A Writer’s Reference (Diana Hacker)
The online resources are great and include quizzes with exercises in grammar, punctuation and more. The explanations for correct and wrong answers are thorough and clear. (If asked to log in, simply click “cancel” in order to use the site.) 

“Grammar Girl” explains some challenging grammar aspects in clear, friendly language. Googling “grammar girl” and, say, “semi-colons,” is the easiest way I’ve found to search the  site.

What else would you add? 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Huh? Ask Questions Before Your Assignment is Due

My online students can fill in the "Comments" section when they submit an assignment. They usually write something like, "Here's my assignment. Enjoy!" Occasionally I'll read something like, "I didn't understand what you meant by X. What is a Y?"

Always ask questions. Keep in mind that the timing is important for your comprehension and, ultimately, grade. Start working early on your assignment so that is possible to ask questions before the assignment deadline. With email, of course, you can send the question at any time and instructors can respond when they are available. You might have follow-up questions, so start early.

Most schools have free in-person and online tutoring sessions available through a writing center. Most school libraries have librarians available to answer questions both in-person and online, too. Use all of the resources available to you, starting with your professor, to learn as much as possible and succeed in your classes.

Online Classes: Ask Questions
Composition Writing Classes: As Good As You Make Them
What Questions to Ask Your Professor 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Composition Writing 101: Revising Rough Drafts

It is that period in the semester when my composition writing students are submitting final drafts of essays. They write rough drafts, submit them for peer editing workshops and feedback from me, and then submit a revision for a final paper grade. Here are some tips for editing and revising your work.

Whether you are a beginning or experienced writer, writing anything requires many, many drafts. While you might be submitting two drafts to your writing teacher, you should be writing more drafts at home. The editing and revising process benefits from time: let your piece sit overnight (at least) so that you can read it more critically the next day. It is easy to fall in love with a first draft; after all, you spent so long thinking about it and laboring over each word, sentence and paragraph. What isn't easy is to cut out lines or rearrange ideas as you write that first draft. 

As you return to your piece, you'll have some distance to notice what works and what doesn't work. Start by reading your work aloud. Reading aloud slows you down. If your tongue trips over a sentence, there might be a grammar or syntax error. 

It is difficult to catch every possible error during a single reading. Make yourself a list of things you usually do well and those aspects of writing that challenge you. For example, perhaps you usually write strong topic sentences, but tend to overuse commas. Then, re-read your piece to ensure that you continue to write strong topic sentences and then again just for proper punctuation. This approach will help you to focus your editing eye as you revise and edit. 

A student once told me that her writing tutor suggested hat she read her paper backwards: the final sentence, the next to last sentence, etc. This trick will help you to focus on the grammar and punctuation, rather than worrying about the content. 

Of course, grammatically correct sentences are nothing without content. Use your outline to to keep your ideas organized. Play devil's advocate with yourself by writing an opposing thesis statement and opposing topic sentences. Ask yourself, "How would someone who disagrees with you write a paper on the same topic?" Find the holes in your argument - and fill them in - before the reader can. 

Here are some related posts you might find helpful: 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Woman Mother Writer

If you are a parent writer, I invite you to read my Woman Mother Writer blog. I share thoughts related to writing - and living - as a parent writer and include guest voices, too. My son is 20 months old and life as I once knew it has changed since pregnancy. Come over to read about the good, the bad, the ugly ... and the sweet.

If you would like to share something (advice, review of a book, resources, etc.) about being a parent writer, don't hesitate to email me with your submission idea (chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Plan for Summer (even if it is snowing!)

Applications for summer writing conferences are opening! If you're thinking about immersing yourself in a summer program, start applying today.

Erika Dreifus has a great piece on her blog about how to choose a writing conference. Another good place to start looking at programs is through Poets & Writers Magazine's amazing database here. AWP also has a searchable directory of Conferences and Centers.

In 2012, I had an amazing time at Bread Loaf Writers' Conference (read a quick summary about it here) and in 2009, A Room of Her Own's conference (read about it here.)

What summer programs have you enjoyed? Have you decided where you're applying for summer 2015?