Grissom's Grammar and Composition

This blog is for any student writing papers for college, for current and former students in my Communications Cluster at Lindenwood University, and my students at St. Charles Community College.

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I write for myself, for the web, and for everyone who gets me. I've been on a fasting liquid diet, traveled to Europe, and raised 2 kids. And I'm directionally challenged - I get lost a lot.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Assignments for Saturday Class and First Weekly Class

Read the assignments before you come to the class date they are listed on, and
be prepared for discussion. This schedule is subject to change according to the needs of the class. Stay informed about these changes by contacting me or another student for notes when necessary.

You are responsible for the work listed if you are absent. There will be additional assignments and readings as necessary.
(S/S refers to the book Subjects and Strategies)

June 30 Class Orientation and Overview
Journal 1: Answer the question “What do you want to learn from this class?”
Reading S/S p.1-44

Reading: A Writer’s Reference, Sections G and P- as needed with on-line exercises
Next week do online interactive grammar exercises under the headings
Basic Grammar and Grammatical Sentences (skip sentence types) in the next two weeks. Go to: and click on Grammar Exercises or click on the link to Writer’s Reference Website on our class blog.

First Weekly Class

Journal 2: Use this journal to brainstorm for Short Paper 1 using the listing technique.
Turn this in with your first four journals a few weeks from now. Journal due date is listed in bold later in the course outline.

Reading: Finish reading listed for the Saturday class.
Paper Types: Narration S/S p. 157-170; 186-189
Description S/S p. 105-118; 151-152
Definition S/S P. 382-398; 420-422
Review Revising and Editing S/S p. 33-37
Short Paper 1 Draft Due

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Four Questions That Help You Find a Topic

Sometimes students are so anxious to start a writing assignment, they don’t take the time to choose a subject that works well for them. It may take a few more minutes to come up with a topic you like, but that time will be more than made up in how much easier it is to write about something you care about. It's much harder to write on subjects you aren’t interested in. Here are some questions that lead to topic ideas that work.

1) What Do You Do Every Day?
Explore your daily activities for topics to write about. If your job is to wait tables at a restaurant, you are an expert in those skills. Classify the customers you wait on according to their personalities, or explain the steps the restaurant uses to fill orders quickly. List the subjects you have up close and personal knowledge of, and share your expertise in various papers.

Caution: If you don't like any of these subjects, then don't use them! But consider taking a humorous angle and you might find something you want to write about.

2) What Are You Passionate About?
Make a list of all the subjects you love to think, read, and talk about. Music, comic books, reality television, animals – whatever you are passionate about. Then explore what attracts you to the subject. Do you love saltwater aquariums? Why does this topic fascinate you? Sharing what makes it appealing to you, makes the paper interesting to us.

3) What are Your Pet Peeves?
The things that annoy you in your world can be opportunities to explore the issues and come up with real solutions to make your world better. Don't offend your audience with attacks on your opposition, but calmly explain your view. Did your health insurance company refuse to pay for a family member's medical treatment? Turn your outrage into a research paper on managed care.

4) Who are You?
Among other things, I am a wife, mother, sister, granddaughter, employee, teacher, Star Trek fan, writer, reader, American, driver, sleeper, dieter, and volunteer. Focusing on issues related to any of these areas gives me several potential topics to write about. As a Star Trek fan, I could do a comparison and contrast of the old generation’s Captain Kirk to the new generation’s Captain Picard. Figure out all the labels that apply to you, and investigate connected issues that you can write about.

Five Writing Myths That Scare Beginning Writers

Are you paralyzed with fear when you write? One of these common writing myths may be getting in your way. Read on and learn how to become a fearless writer.

1) Writers are Born, Not Made
Literary giants like Faulkner, Hemingway, and Twain were born with the talent to leave a lasting legacy with their writing. But communicating clearly in writing is different from creating an eternal piece of literature. Writing well is a learnable skill for those willing to work at it.

2) I Haven’t “Lived” Enough to Write
Not all writing has to be done by struggling artists who have deep experiences to draw on. A sixteen-year-old can have valuable things to say about everyday life. Many writers expound on death, illness, love, and disaster. Talking about the meaningful events of daily life is often overlooked, so everyday topics come across as more original and authentic than papers on suicides or car accidents. Suffering is not required for writing.

3) Writers Know What They Want To Say
Plenty of authors muddle through their first draft without knowing where they are going with it. Many writers find themselves interested in a topic, but until they sit down and write about it, they may not know why. Starting to write without any idea of what you will say gets you a lot farther than waiting for a fully formed paper to appear in your brain.

4) It’s Too Hard to Remember All the Grammar Rules
You didn’t come out of the womb talking, but after burbling a bit and imitating other speakers, you got the hang of it. Every new subject has a learning curve, and writing is no different. Continue to learn about writing, and eventually you won’t have to stop and think about where a comma goes because you will unconsciously remember. Then you can breeze through the task like any other you have come to know well.

5) More is Better
Babbling on to extend the length of a too short paper will not get you a better grade. It usually lowers the grade because your instructor must get through the babble. It also prevents them from helping you learn to develop content. Instructors aren't sure if you think you needed the extra content and thus need help focusing your ideas, or if you are filling space because you can’t come up with examples and need content tips. So ask the instructor to help you before you babble your grade away.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Five Tips for Starting the Communications Cluster

1. Fear Not
Many of you have been out of school for years or even decades. This is not necessarily a disadvantage. You are here to learn how to write papers. So if you aren't sure how to do that, you are in exactly the right place.

2. Polish Your Skills
Some of you are already effective writers, but even the best writers can stand to review the rules once in awhile. So if you have a basic understanding of writing for college, use this class as an opportunity to make your writing even better and more polished.

3. Stock Up
You will need at least four folders: Two for turning in assignments, one for class handouts, and one for storing research paper sources/info. You will also want a notebook for notes and plenty of pens.

4. Take Notes
Part of your participation is taking notes and staying informed on deadlines and other class details. Because you are allowed to use notes on our tests, clear and comprehensive notes can be a big advantage. When you start taking notes, put the class date at the top of the page and mark important/major points with stars or underlining to help keep them organized.

5. Read the Instructions
Many of the questions you might have can be answered by the handouts you get in class. I absolutely do not mind answering questions, but why wait for a response from me on an assignment if you already have it at your fingertips in a handout?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Featured Poet April

Here is April's class poem. I like the sharp rhythm and the use of alliteration in "Did I blunder/Did I blink". Nice work, April.


I sit and I wonder
I stop and I think
Did I blunder
Did I blink
What have we put asunder
I fear we may never see
The results of our actions
In present company

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Featured Poet Heather

Here is the first poem I'm featuring that was written for class. This is Heather's poem.

I like the rhyming couplets throughout, and my favorite line is: "To be alone is what you want,/And to that - I make a grunt."

A Love not in Vain

My love for you is not in vain,
Though it sits on clouds and rain.
The good times with you make me high,
The bad times without, make me cry.

Your words and touch are so real,
That another can’t make me feel,
As close as we two are,
Because you are my Northern star.

To me, you do not belong,
But for another, I do not long.

Down the sandy beach we walk,
Though we do not have to talk.
I can see your sparkling eyes,
Like a beacon in the sky.

It tells me what you feel inside,
Which you normally like to hide.
Your emotions kept so locked up,
They must be freed from their cup.

It must be hard for you to hide,
All those things you feel inside.
All the fun and happy times,
Yet you still leave them behind.

To be alone is what you want,
And to that – I make a grunt.

Because happiness can’t you see,
Is precisely what you bring to me.
Loneliness, you took away,
Like making clouds turn from gray.

Emptiness I will not feel,
Because I know that you are real.
My love for you I can not hide,
Because it’s what I feel inside.


Friday, June 08, 2007

Last Class

All remaining assignments are due on Monday.

Remember I must have all assignments turned in by the last class. I will not accept assignments after the last class has concluded unless you have applied for an incomplete and been approved.

Bring a self-addressed, stamped envelope if you want me to mail back the last assignment you turn in. Put your address as the return address so if the postage is insufficient, it will still get to you.