Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Grammar for College Writing

By Kelly Bridgewater

As writers, we are always looking for advice to make our writing jump off the page and into the reader’s imagination. The writing book I’m want to talk about this month is not a writing instruction or advice book where you will find information about plot twists, characters, or how to revise your book. I came across this in grad school when I wanted to figure out how to pump up my writing and make it more sophisticated. Grammar for College Writing by Don and Jenny Killgallon is a great resource for anyone who wants to improve their sentence writing ability. 

From Amazon

How could a book that quotes J. K. Rowling, author of the famous Harry Potter series, who is a master at creating details with her sentences be bad? I knew that I loved the Harry Potter series, but I never actually focused on how she constructed her sentences. After doing the first section in Killgallon’s book, Noun Group: The Naming Tools, I was hooked.

They take simple grammatical words like appositives, gerunds, infinitive, and noun clauses and shows how to expand the sentences using these grammatical devices. She starts each section defining what each term means with at least three different examples from classic literature. Then the review section is usually pretty big. First, you will exchange sentences by switching up the infinitive or gerund with something closely grammatically related. Then you will practice expanding by adding an infinitive phrase or gerund phrase to the bold face section. There is matching. Multiple choices. More practice.

It really helped me to improve my sentences. While I was teaching college at Indiana State University in their English department, I would throw in some grammar on Fridays. Some of the exercises were from this book. I would start the exercise with taking apart one of Rowling’s well-written sentences and make it flow as a simple sentence: He ran. Sweat poured. Foot hurt. After putting the sentence back together, they learned how much better a variety of sentences in our writing can flow better. As much as I enjoyed improving my sentences, I believed my students didn’t like it, but I showed them how richer than writer can be by using these simple tricks.

This is a great book if you want to learn how to make your sentences have more variety. I also suggest looking at J. K. Rowlings famous series and observe how her sentences just flow off the page.

Do you enjoy learning how to grammatically better your sentences better? As a writer, grammar should be important to our lives as much as the creating of our stories.

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