February 2011 -->

Walden University Writing Center

Where instructors and editors talk writing.

Calling All Grammar Groupies!

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By Writing Center Staff

Do you ever get really annoyed with grammar and spelling mistakes you see in advertising? Do you ever just wish you could fix them? Well, back in 2007, friends Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson traveled across the country in search of mistakes, misspellings, and typos in public signage. Once they found a problematic sign, they actually corrected it—with permanent marker, Wite-Out, anything that was on hand—in the name of the greater good. Last fall, Deck and Herson released a detailed log of their journey as The Great Typo Hunt (read more about it here).

With inspiration from these guys, we at the Writing Center are embarking on a little project, but we need your help. When you’re walking down the street, visiting a new town, or otherwise going about your day-to-day life, look around you at the signs. If you notice a misplaced apostrophe, unnecessary quotation marks, misspelled words, confusion of there/their/they’re, or any other grammatical error, snap a picture with your digital camera or phone. Send it to writingsupport@waldenu.edu, and each month we’ll post the best photograph on our blog (with proper credit to the author, of course). Just remember that in doing so, you agree that (a) you are the photographer and (b) we can do what we wish with your image. No snagging from another website; we want real-life snapshots from your surroundings! And please don’t correct the typos yourself. As Deck and Herson discovered, you can get into a lot of trouble for that.

We’ll post the first photograph on March 15th. Let the hunt begin!

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An Interview With Jessica Barron, Writing Tutor

The Walden University Writing Center is expanding. In the past few months, in fact, we've added five new tutors and editors to better serve the student population. And we are now assisting undergraduates as well as master's and doctoral level scholars. To keep our services personal during this time of change, we're presenting a series of blog posts about our writing consultants--both tutors and editors. Here they talk about their favorite words, books, and writing techniques. In this particular installment, Tutor Jessica Barron, a native of Minnesota, lets loose.

Jessica, what is your favorite...

word in the English language?
Currently, I enjoy the word prowess, though I can rarely find a sentence in which to use it properly. I am also a fan of all homophones.

foreign language word?
I love the Japanese word oishii, which means “delicious.” Whenever I hear it, I know that either I or someone nearby is eating something scrumptious.

first line from a novel?
I can’t think of one – suggestions other than anything from the Harry Potter novels?

last line from a novel?

My favorite novel’s conclusion is George Orwell’s (1949) last line of 1984: “He loved Big Brother.” The book could not end in any other way, but rereading that line still makes me so sad.

My favorite author would be a tie between David Sedaris, Kurt Vonnegut, and Tennessee Williams. Their styles and genres are so varied that my mood depicts whom I enjoy reading on a particular day.

thing to do while writing?
When I write, I always need a beverage (typically sparkling water) and white noise. I can block out anything when I get in a writing groove, though a fan is usually less distracting than a Law & Order marathon.

topic to write about?
I love to write about myself. It’s a topic I know well, and it’s always fun to pretend to be an outsider to experiences that were so personal.

writing rule to discuss with students?

The thing that I enjoy discussing with students the most is variety: word choice, sentence structure, and overall format. We all can get comfortable with one style of writing, and it’s fun to help students become aware of their favorite.

writing location?
My parents’ old library table that I use as a desk.

My husband. He forces me not to get too attached to any piece of text.

For complete bios of the tutors and editors, head to the About Us page of our website. To make an appointment for a paper review with Jessica or another tutor, see our Tutoring Center page.

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