Writing Resources


Castel del Monte (UNESCO World Heritage Site)


 Idea Maps for Technical and Creative Writing

  1. Start with a blank sheet.  In the center of the sheet write down a word or phrase that is central to your Big Idea. 
  2. A simple drawing of the concept may do.  Around the Big Idea place Eight Key Points. 
  3. Allow room for writing, and for adding another level of Detail Points.  Use a Priority List to help select your Key Points.  Label these. 
  4. If you have more or less than Eight Key Points, fit them in. 
  5. Consider each Key Point.  List Eight Detail Points for each Key Point.  
  6. Look for Points of Coincidence.  Draw lines joining these Aligned Points, and then add an off-shoot branch for notes. 
  7. Repeat this process to explore or expand any Idea or Point.



Essay Writing Under Pressure:  A Strategy

1. Say what you are going to say.
2. Say what you have to say.
3. Say what you have said.


  1. List as many points as possible in sixty seconds.

a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z….

  1. Number these points according to their relative importance.

13a, 14b, 8c, 2d, 9e, 3f, 5g, 7h, 15i, 10j, 11k, 16l, 12m, 1n, 6o, 4p, 17q ….

  1. Sort related points into groups, for paragraphs.

(5, 8, 1)    (7, 2, 13)    (6, 10)    (4, 3, 9)   (11, 12, 17) ….

  1. Organize these paragraph plans to tell a story: beginning, middle, end.

A (5, 8, 1).   B (6, 10).   C (4, 3, 9).   D (7, 2, 13).   E (11, 12, 17) ….

  1. Order the points for each paragraph, from most to least important.

A (1, 8, 5).   B (10, 6).   C (4, 3, 9).    D (2, 7, 13).   E (12, 17, 11) ….

  1. In point form, state your conclusions based on this story.
  • This, that, and the other thing together is a problem for all of us.
  • Six of one, plus half a dozen of another, does not equal twelve.
  • There’s good and evil in everyone, but it can’t always be seen.
  1. In point form, rephrase your conclusions to craft an introduction.
  • On the topic of good things happening to bad people, I believe that:
  • There’s good and evil in everyone, but it can’t always be seen.
  • Six of one, plus half a dozen of another, does not equal twelve.
  • This, that, and the other thing together is a problem for all of us.
  1. Write paragraphs following the points you have organized.
  1. Double space lines, and leave wide margins, to have room for insertions.
  1. Read each sentence aloud (sub-vocally) to hear punctuation points.
  1. Read each sentence aloud (sub-vocally) to hear the sense of it.
  1. Insert punctuation, words, phrases, and sentences as required.
  1. Submit ALL of your written notes with your finished essay, as part of it.




Plagiarism:  Just Don’t Do It.

“Subject: the time I laughed the most.

I was 16 watching my little brother’s elementary school play with my parents.
Earlier that day I had overheard some kid in my history class say that a dog would have made a better Chief than Darrell.
I barely knew who Darrell was but still found this funny as hell,
and it kept popping in my head during the play.
I know it doesn’t sound that funny, but I just kept picturing a dog actually running for Chief.
I pictured a dog participating in the debates and news analysts debating his performance,
the dog giving his victory speech, just barking while the audience looks confused as to why a dog got elected. I pictured the secret service following him around all day to the pointless places a dog would go, picking up his poop, football games being interrupted with an important message from the Band Office, but it’s just a dog panting and slobbering for 10 minutes.
I was fairly high at the time, so that’s probably what made it so funny.
Anyway, I couldn’t contain it and ended up bursting out laughing during a quieter scene,
and my dad immediately dragged me out by the arm to the parking lot and beat the living shit out of me with jumper cables.”

The actual author of this piece is unknown to me.  It was submitted for a writing development task.  An internet search revealed it has been around for a while.  Good stuff, as a piece of writing — but someone else’s work.