Prepared by: Rhéal Nadeau
Posted on: Sun, 11 Dec 2005
I believe that writers must know how to do
research, in order to
obtain any information they might need for their writing.
I also believe that writers must
continually learn more about the
language (or for some of us, the languages) they use.
This exercise combines both these
None of us has a perfect mastery of
grammar and other aspects of
language. In fact, most of us have only an instinctive knowledge - we
know what sounds right, but can't explain why (or if) it's actually
So the exercise this week is this: pick an
aspect of grammar (or
style, or any other aspect of writing) which you would like to know
more about. Using any reference books at hand, your local library or
bookstore, and on-line sites, study this topic to gain a better
understanding of it. (By the way, don't disregard your favourite
dictionary!) Discussions on the writing list suggest a number of
potential such topics: passive voice, those pesky "ing" verbs, etc. How
much do you know about verb tenses, or the various tropes available to
us? What are dangling participles, and why are the wrong? When is it
right to use a comma, or a semi-colon, or a dash? When should we
hyphenate compound adjectives? What are the rules concerning
capitalization? Whatever topic you choose, spend at least an hour or
two researching it, using at least two references.
Your submission should describe, as
clearly as possible, what you
learned. Give examples, please, including if possible examples of the
problems that can occur if this aspect is not done correctly! As well,
your submission should include a pointer to at least one useful
reference: a book, a web site, whatever.
When critiquing, point out anything that
isn't clear to you (and if
possible, do extra research to clarify it). Add any knowledge or
references you can on this topic.
Send your submissions to the list today
through Friday with the
Subject: SUB: Going to grammar's house [your name]
Critique each other's submissions (today
until the next exercise is
with the subject heading:
Subject: CRIT: Going to grammar's house [writer's
For discussion directly related to the
exercise, use the subject
Subject: DISC: Going to grammar's house
Want critiques on this exercise after the
exercise ends? Request
critiques with the subject header:
Subject: OFFER: Going to grammar's house
(Respondents must reply off-list).
The current and previous exercises are
Web site created by
Rhéal Nadeau and
the administrators of the Internet Writing Workshop.
Modified by Gayle Surrette.