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.
  1. In point form, rephrase your conclusions to craft an introduction.
  • On the topic of good things happening to bad people, I believe that:
    • 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.


ELA10A Notes 2021 Fall




Deadline, 1860's US

Burial Detail at Andersonville, a Confederate prison for Union soldiers, August 1864. In the 1860s, a ‘dead line’ was a line within or around a prison. Prisoners would be shot for crossing the ‘dead line’.  (Merriam-Webster, Word History)

  1. Write an essay on the topic of:  “Deadlines”
  2. Write your Obituary.
  3. What is the saddest song on Earth in any language?
  • Song:
  • Artist(s):
  • Lyrics:
  • Video/Audio Link:
  • Artist Biography Links:

Tuco’s Torture (The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.  5:41)


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.



Early this morning, when the first glow of dawn was rising in the east and the full moon was hanging low in the west, hundreds of ravens flew over me – in twos and threes and tens, wave after wave – all heading to the south-east.  What are they going to, I wondered – or fleeing from?  What do they know that I do not – and should I be alarmed?

Shortly thereafter I noted that three had paused and perched on poles, and were watching me busy at my work clearing a path through the snow left by the recent storm.  Waiting for me to keel over and die, perhaps.  They, busy at their work, and I, busy at mine.  (T. D. Boyle, November 19, 2021)