What is Good Writing?

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.  So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”  Steve Jobs

This quote is dedicated to the prospective student of writing.  This course will help you to not only connect the dots when it comes to writing, but also, when you are finished with this course, you can look back at all you have learned and connect the dots and use them to continue your progress forward with your newly acquired writing education.

In this course, you will learn rhetorical concepts, argument, claims, evidence and discourse communities but most importantly you will gain confidence about the quality of the writer you are.  The professor will guide you through your assignments and will praise what you have done well and then offer gentle, constructive criticism on what needs to be improved.  Here is one such quote from him to me, “I like the organization of this post because each graf has a loopback to the previous part of your theme.  It’s easy to follow that theme as a result of that organization.  Of course, you could totally rearrange the organization to capture each moment in time more.  For example, you could have done something like…….”  Professors like him don’t come around too often so treasure his words of advice because they  will be a crucial component of the writing process.

“How do I get started?” you ask.  Well, for starters, here are some supplies you will need in order to be a good, prepared writer:  a notebook, writing tools, a reliable computer/laptop, a good dictionary, an open mind and a good attitude.  Once you know what the topic you will be writing about, *TIP*, write out an overall outline of what your paper will look like:

  • Title:  A catchy one
  • Introduction
  • Thesis, part of  the introduction
  • Topic sentences, 3-4, that prove your thesis
  • Elements of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos
  • Conclusion, restate your thesis
  • Work Cited

Do this for every essay you write.  It helps to see it and to write it out.  Then, as you begin the research portion of your writing, you can begin to fill in your outline with short passages/annotations.  Then in your notebook, start writing out your notes and start to develop your essay. *TIP* Don’t be afraid to use your dictionary to look up words you don’t know.  It makes life easier!

As you are writing, you will need to move your sentences around or insert new ones or delete other ones.  Before you know it, you will see an essay start to form right before your eyes? *TIP* Always go back to your outline and align it with your paper so that you know you have met all the requirements.  Do a check list of all the things you are required to have.  Now that you know the basic blueprint of writing, I think you are ready for me to break it down a bit more.

WHAT IS RHETORICAL CONCEPT?  Rhetoric means, “The art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing.”  The rhetorical concepts are the ways you, the writer, appeal to the reader through:  ethos (credibility/trustworthiness of the writer), pathos (emotional) and logos (logic).

EXAMPLE OF ETHOS: From my article, “Academic Writing”

In “Men’s Search for Meaning:  The case of Legos,” the title is clear and the source is stated.  The three authors’ names are front and center wit their schools right under their names.  The date this article was received, revised and accepted is under the academic information of the authors.  Appealing to the ethos, all this information supplies the read with the necessary information to establish credibility.

EXAMPLE OF PATHOS: From my article: “Red, White and Blue”

Hilary’s politics are liberal and although she has not stated an official political stand as candidate, it can be expected that she will have a lot of things to say about women’s pay, time off for family or even sick pay for the lowest paid workers.  Appealing to the pathos, now women will be looking at her a serious contender.

EXAMPLE OF LOGOS:  From my Essay #2

He uses logos  when he mentions that corporations have set a goal of 1/1/1, meaning corporate giving is indeed one percent of profit but it is not the only target of CSR, corporations claim their contribution is multiplied by employee welfare and employee contributions to the community.

Now that we have that out of the way, “What is an argument?”  Your essay will have an argument–a statement (your interpretation) of something you want to prove or disprove.  Then you will use claims to convey your interpretation (argument) and make sure that your claims can be backed up with evidence (facts).

EXAMPLE:  From an essay I wrote that shows my argument and my three claims.  I will use the body of the essay to write one solid paragraph for each of the claims I am making and then I will back them up with evidence.

“In this paper I will argue that the epidemic of childhood obesity must be stopped because currently 18 percent of children in the United States are obese, because overweight and obese children and teens are at risk for developing Type-2 Diabetes and because the physical side effects of childhood obesity are bullying , low self-esteem, depression and suicide.”

*TIP* Always use quotation marks when using someone else’s work to give them credit for it.  Never use someone else’s words as you own.


Their message to managers, “Managers who wish to have motivated employees must recognize the work people perform.”  So the purpose of the experiments and the results show managers what they can do to increase employee production.

The different types of writing that we had in this course helped us to learn how to write each type.  One of the assignments we had to do, which I found to be fun and informative, was the discussion/forum writing.  Click on the link below to view it:

My favorite writing assignment was the Discourse Community.  I get to describe a particular club that I am a member of that not only is helping me with my goal of becoming an author, but also it cements what I want to do for the rest of my life.  It was an honor to share it with the class.  Please click on the to view:

All of the writing assignments were infinitely valuable to me because I learn to write and the writing assignments were personal.  It was a win-win situation.

What is good writing?  Good writing is good thinking.  Good writing is good preparation.  Good writing is communication.   Good writing makes sense to the reader.  The reader should not have to decipher what you as the writer are trying to convey.  Writing is used in emails, reports, documents, texts, letters, presentations, essays, websites, and social media.  We need format and structure.  We need good grammar, spelling, punctuation.  Good writing is the first impression you make on other people.  Our thoughts are in that writing.  In essence,  we are the writing.  Own it.  Communicate.   Last *TIP* Have Fun!  Now, I pass the baton on to you.  Take it and run with it!

Here is a Youtube video you can watch and get some extra pointers:


Book It!

                    Follow the Map to Become an Author!

START HERE: How to Become an Author of Children’s Books

1st STEP: Become a Member of Writing Children’s Books Club

2nd STEP: Establish Clear Goals

  • Learn the Craft
  • Love for Books
  • Joy of Thrilling Kids
  • Job I love

3rd STEP: Learning the Craft

  • Nuts & Bolts
  • Deciding Your Writing Style
  • Finding Illustrators
  • Dealing with Editors
  • Copyrighting
  • How to Get Published


Writing children’s books is not easy even though children’s books contain less words or simpler words than adult books.  I discovered books at the age of 4 and fell in love.  As I continued reading through my childhood and into my teens, I knew that I wanted to write children’s books one day.  I wanted children to love reading as much as I did.

I came across a club for anyone wanting to become an author of children’s books.  I have been a member since May 2013.  The club meets once a week and conducted by someone who teaches us the steps in writing, editing, and publishing.  We develop our creativity by drawing a few pictures then we start structuring a storyline.  It is important to create a plot. Sort of like an outline.  Then we proceed to deciding the style of our writing-begin the actual writing of the dialogue.We map the characters, procure the setting, set up the relationships in the story and find our viewpoint.  We pay close attention to what tense we are using ( I have problems with straying from the present to the past).

Writing a children’s book involves making many decisions.  What is my view?  Is the book going to be fiction, fantasy, science fiction, drama? We need to decide what age group we are writing for. What is the tone?  Once we have all of these things mapped out, then we can begin our first draft.  We have a whole session on what type of mistakes to avoid that will make the editors happy.    We learn how to copyright our stories and how to look for the right publishing company.

It is a complicated process but if you love what you are doing and you are determined that one day, children will be reading your books and finding joy in doing so, then this process is worth it.  I am lucky I am a member of this club.  I have learned so much and I am grateful that I have this opportunity.  GET READY, GET SET, BOOK IT!





Academic Writing

Academic writing contains an argument that is credible.  It’s argument is logical and has evidence and reasoning that backs up the argument.

In, “Men’s Search for Meaning: The case of Legos,” the title is clear and the source is stated.  The three authors names are front and center with their schools right under their names.  The date this article was received, revised and accepted is under the academic information of the authors. All of this supplies the reader with credibility.  The reader is now privy to an, “abstract,” which gives the reader a short preview of what is to come with a result to back up their study.  The paper is written in outline style using Roman numerals.  The purpose of their study is clear, “In this article, we focus on minimal perceived meaning by the labor producing force and investigate how it influences labor supply in controlled laboratory experiments.”  Their intention is stated, “Our intention is to compare situations with no meaning (or as low a level of meaning as we can create) with situations having some small additional meaning.”  We immediately know that they are going to focus their study on, “The least common denominator of meaningfulness that is shared by virtually all compensated activities.” They then focus on, “Recognition and Purpose.”

In their evidence presentation they quote other sources that they used for their findings, “Frankl, Loewenstein, Preston and Leete,” who have done other studies on the same topic.  they explain in detail, the three conditions for their study so that the reader has a clear picture of what is happening.  The results are presented in each experiment.  They provide a colorful bar graph to expound on what their experiment entailed.  The results of each experiment are revealed along with numerical formulas, “The Spearman correlation between the number of Bionicles produced an average speed of building them is 0.838 (p<0.001) in the meaningful condition and 0.251 (p=0.29) in the Sisyphics condition.”  In their conclusion, they sum up their findings with data.  They  end their article with acknowledgements and a long list of references.

This news release has a title that is catchy, “What Managers  Can Learn from Legos,” but there is also credibility established by telling the reader that there is a, ” News Release,” and it comes from the, “Duke, Fuqua School of Business.”  Enough credibility has now been established for the reader.  The team of Ariely, Kamenica and Prelec state their purpose, “Set out to understand how perceived meaning affects a person’s willingness to work.”  They define meaning so that the reader fully understands what is happening in their findings.  The experiments are explained in detail with results being explicit.  Their message to managers, “Managers who wish to have motivated employees must recognize the work people perform.” So the purpose of the experiments and the results show managers what they can do to increase employee performance.  This news release does not meet the criteria for academic writing.

By establishing the purpose and presenting the evidence, the credibility of this experiment was proven. In the video, Dan Ariely: “What makes us feel good about our work? ” has interactive talk and is presenting to a local audience.  The written introduction tells us, “Behavioral economist Dan Ariely presents two eye-opening experiments that reveal our unexpected and nuanced attitudes, towards meaning in our work.”  The credibility is presented and established.  The viewer wants to learn about what makes us feel good about our work.  Ariely goes on to explain exactly what makes us feel good with the evidence and findings on the experiments conducted.  He takes the audience through the results, thus providing evidence. In the TED video, we can only imagine and visualize the experiment.  It is not academic writing and doesn’t meet the criteria to qualify as academic.

Specifically pertaining to academic writing, the News Release is not near the caliber of the Academic Journal.  The news release is more for entertaining purposes. The news release did not provide the credibility that the academic journal did.  The news release did not clearly state its purpose.  Evidence was not fully provided and it did not back up the intent.  the academic journal, even though it was lengthy, provided credibility and had all the elements necessary of academic writing.  It stated the purpose and appealed to the ethos by providing sufficient statistics.  Its results were provided.   According to an article on academic writing, by L. Lennie Irvin, professors at George Mason University were asked to outline three major characteristics of academic writing.  This is what they state, “Clear evidence in writing that the writers have been persistent, open-minded and disciplined in study.  The dominance of reason over emotional or sensual perception.  An imagined reader who is coolly rational, reading for information and intending to formulate a reasoned response.”

My Heart Will Go On…..

Arriving at middle school was  scary.  That was my introduction to America and  English.  I arrived at school and knew I was in trouble when everyone was just staring at me.  I knew that I would have to open my mouth and let my English come out, or lack of  English rather.  I had learned to speak and read and write English in China but now it was the real thing.  We would  practiced over and over again.  But no matter how much we practice, we can’t say the letter, “r”.   And no matter how many songs we listen to, we can’t seem to make English sound like English, it still sounds like Chinese.

You would be surprised to find out that we learn much of our English by singing American songs.  I like Celine Dion.  Not only for her singing voice but also because it’s easy to follow her English.  When I’m not singing I will be down at the grocery store.  No not buying groceries, I’m walking down the aisles reading as many labels as I can.  Nouns.  That’s how I learn them. Milk, beans, carrots, cookies, bread.  I also work on labels and brands.  Borden, Carnation, Swanson, Heinz.  Then  over to the produce.  Then over to the bakery.  Back at home, I read Chinese and then I have a CD in English so that I can follow along with the English.   For some unknown reason, I sing English better than I can speak it.

Back at middle school, a girl named Amy came over to me and smiled.   She welcomed me and told  not to worry because she would  be my friend.  I smiled back but I knew  it was the smile of a coward.  Did I mention I was scared?  In the classroom the teacher welcomed me and asked me to introduce myself.   I didn’t   know enough English to put together a sentence let alone a story.  So I said, “Hi My name is Xinting pronounced like this Chinting.”  Then I’m blank.  Nothing would come out of my mouth.   Everyone was  staring.  Now what?  Well, I opened my mouth again and talked, not sang, the words to Celine Dion’s song, “My heart will go on,”  from the movie, Titanic.  Now, they were really staring, even the teacher.  That’s how my brain is wired.  I have learned to say many English words by singing them.  So I did the next best thing and I spoke the words to her song.  My palms were sweaty and I thought I would throw up but when I was done, they clapped for me!  Wow was I surprised.  The kids wanted to know if I knew other songs and I said yes that I did, all of Celine Dion’s songs.  The teacher said it was okay if  we didn’t hear them all today.  I became friends with many of the kids and at recess time and at lunch time we would sing songs.  That was the best practice of speaking English that I could have gotten.

Of course, at home  only Chinese is spoken so it has taken me a long time to get the pronunciation correctly.  There were many Chinese kids at my school so there really wasn’t the need to speak English because we had our safety net.

I practice English as much as I can.  I have to.  One day I want to be an author of children’s books.  I want children to love books as much as I do.  I want children to read about adventures of Chinese children and how hard they work to learn English. My goal for my books would be to have the content in English and in Chinese.  I write English better than I speak it.  But that’s because I have spent hundreds of hours writing it.  I have journal upon journal where I write everyday happenings in both Chinese and English. And you know, I can sing English better than I can speak it.  One day I will meet Celine Dion and I will be able to sing with her.  Well maybe, just speak the words because did I mention I can’t carry a tune?  But that’s a different story.

Please feel free to click on both of the following links.  One link is about me and my favorite book that is in Chinese but comes with an English CD that I listen to and follow the Chinese words together with the English pronunciation.  Even though I have reviewed this book and Cd many times, I always go back to it because it is a very special part of who I am and who I am becoming.

The other link has a video that shows a girl telling us how she learned English.  This is very similar to what I did as I was growing up.  Both of these links represent a girl who was born in China but is here in America now.  She is Chinese-American with a thirst for knowledge and a big heart.





My photograph shows that for women voters, Hilary Clinton is not only the best choice, she is the only choice.  Hilary is the preferred choice for this group of voters who have been waiting for 30 years to see a female candidate win the White House.   Hilary  is constantly in the public eye and her popularity has not lessened in spite of several scandals that happened when she was the first lady and when she was the secretary of state.  She is very popular with gay and lesbian voters of all ages.  She appears to be the front runner even before she declares her candidacy.  Placed in front of the American flag,  there is no other candidate.

Hilary’s politics are liberal and although she has not stated an official position as a candidate, it can be expected that she will have a lot of things to say about women’s pay, time off for family or even sick pay for the lowest paid workers.

Disappointed voters may be looking forward to her candidacy for these reasons and because they have been waiting so long to see a female candidate that actually has a chance of winning and becoming the first female president of the United States.



YouTube link/Teaching Chinese

Hello everybody!  I am excited to publish my first video to YouTube!  I have never done it before.  It took me a long time to get it uploaded (I’m terrible at 2 things: English and internet).  What I am doing is teaching the audience how to say several things in Chinese.  Unfortunately, my video was not long enough so I may have to do 2 of them to satisfy requirement.  The words I am teaching you to say in Chinese are: Communicate, writing, literacy, blog and visual argument.  Those are important to us but not to anyone else so my audience would be anyone who wants to learn those words and anyone who wants to laugh at me for my pronunciation.  Yes, English is hard.  In my next blog I will tell you how we learn English.  It may surprise you.

YouTube link:


I decided to add another video because the other one, not good enough!  Too short!  I’m excited anyway to even have a video.  So please click on the link and you can watch me teach you to say Hello, thank you and a few other important terms, in CHINESE!  Have fun, I did!




Discussion boards/Forums

Black, White and Jewishis the book I purchased at and after I read it I posted a review on the book.  Great reading for people who come from racially mixed background and also for people who don’t quite know where they belong in life.  Here’s what caught my attention, “She doesn’t fit into the white world and she doesn’t fit into the black world so she decides that she is a child of the movement.”  I knew right there and then that I had to find out what a child of the movement was.  Rebecca Walker, the author, takes on a journey of finding herself with a black mom and a white dad and then they get divorced and live on opposite sides of the United States.  Her life with her mom involves black and hispanic people.  However Rebecca is a copper color so she is questioned about her belonging there.  Then when she goes to her dad’s house and he has remarried a white woman, she is questioned by everybody if she belongs there.  This story definitely appealed to the Kairos because it is the right timing for such a topic.  More and more people are inter-mixing racially and many kids will wonder what world they belong to.   The audience for this book isn’t just for racially mixed people.  It is for anyone who is coming into their own or who are experiencing peer pressure to do drugs.  Rebecca also lets us in to her account of her early sexual encounters and getting an abortion at the age of fourteen.  This narration is done realistically and insightful as it appeals to the pathos.  Rebecca Walker’s description of not knowing which of her two worlds she belonged to appeals to the ethos of children who are born from two different races.  Rebecca describes in such detail that we feel we are part of a room full of black people listening to poetry being read and then we are part of her dad’s life as she walks down the street in an all white neighborhood holding her little sister’s white hand.

The following is my actual review but you can see it live at:


Verified Purchase
This review is from: Black White & Jewish (Kindle Edition)
“Rebecca grows up being the daughter of a black mother and a white, Jewish father. She has a wonderful family and experiences love all around her. One day her world comes crashing down as she is told by both her parents that they are getting a divorce. Rebecca and her mom move out of their wonderful home and into an apartment. Her life now changes drastically as she begins to notice that she is different from other kids. She doesn’t fit into the white world and she doesn’t fit into the black world so she decides that she is a child of the movement. Her mother lives in San Francisco and her father lives in New York. They decide that she will spend 2 years with one parent and 2 years with the other one. Her life changes drastically and she finds herself alone and lonely. Where does she belong? Is she black? Is she white? Her father marries a white lady and they have a white child. Her mother dates a black man. Rebecca ends up having white friends, black friends, hispanic friends and also finds herself being sexually active at a very young age because she seeks comfort. Her mother leaves her alone at home and she has to fend for herself. Her father ends up being disconnected to Rebecca and so that leaves her not knowing where she belongs. She experiments with drugs and finds herself pregnant at fourteen. When she tells her mother, they both agree that an abortion is the best thing to do. Her struggles to find who she is and where she belongs prevail throughout the book but in the end she says, “I exist somewhere between black and white, family and friend. I am flesh and blood, yes, but I am also either.”
This book is worthwhile reading material. It allows the reader to go back and forth between cultures and races. We identify with Rebecca no matter what our race is. We feel what she feels and we understand what it is like to not know where you belong. Rebecca takes us on a journey to look inside of herself, her life, her love and her soul.”
     After searching through a multitude of discussion boards/forums, I finally settled on one that not only caught my eye, but made me want to be part of it.  It is a site that has over 39 million experiences shared to date.  This is the world’s largest living collection of life experiences, personal stories and it’s about the people who go through these experiences.  There is even an app that anyone can download to their phones for free!  Now that’s what I’m talking about!  The audience for this discussion board/forum is anyone, any age and it’s for, “People who get you.”  There are 24 categories for social conversation.  This site was launched in 2007 and describes itself as, “A comfortable and supportive place for individuals to share and connect.”  Appealing to the ethos, we find out this site has received praise from ABC’s, “Good Morning America,” The San Francisco Chronicle and  Wired Magazine.”
     This site then let’s us know it appeals to the pathos because,”It’s for people who really get it!”  Of course we all want to be that person who gets it.  The question I posted to this site, “When children come from racially mixed parents, are they the dad’s race or the mom’s race?”  The reason for this question is of course because of the book review that I posted on Amazon,  Black, White and Jewish . Within seconds I had twelve replies.  Some were kind, some were intelligent and some were from another world.  My post of experience was, “I am concerned about the obesity epidemic.”  I followed this up by also posting, “Overweight children are now in danger of not living longer than their parents and are at high risk for Type-2 Diabetes.”  The obesity epidemic topic is highly relevant right now and so it appeals to the kairos.   In appealing to the ethos, my one other post was my high interest in the younger generation and technology.  We are accused of never having face to face conversations and that we can’t write because all we do is text and when we text, it’s 2 or 3 letters that stand for entire words.  In appealing to the ethos of this subject, I posted this topic, “Is technology hurting or helping the younger generation?”  That topic quickly snowballed and many young people jumped in to defend our generation.  As expected, some of the people who appeared to be older (moms, dads, business executives etc) defended their position of saying that while the younger generation caught on quicker to the use of technology, that we would not be good communicators face to face with other people.  You can also join this forum and be fascinated by how quickly people respond.  I had this visual in my head that people are sitting in front of their screens, drooling, just waiting for someone to post so they can jump on and comment right back.   Go to:

Blog 3: What Do Others Say is Good WRITING?

I found this excellent video on Youtube, “Why Writing Matters, Even if You Don’t Want to be an English Major.”  It is done by a guy named Fajardo and it starts us off immediately by capturing our attention with a Beatles song, “Paperback Writer.”  How appropriate is that?  He asked people everywhere a very simple question, “How do you use writing in your professional life?”  What he found out is that all positions, jobs, in life require writing.  My favorite quote he had on his video, “Wordsmithing is Everything.”  People write letters, reports, documents, memos, detailed work, notes, outlines, summaries and emails everyday in their life.  He shows people in all walks of life doing all kinds of jobs who use writing.  As the song comes to an end, he leaves us with this quote, “Writing is not just for English majors….Ask anyone.”   <<>>

Patty Limerick, a professor in Colorado who teaches Western American Studies, asks, “In the world of e-mail and texting, is good writing anachronistic?” (chronologically misplaced)  So she set out to find out.  She wrote a newspaper column in the Denver Post where she asked Colorado employers, “Do writing skills matter anymore?”  As a professor, one of her goals is for her students to have the ability to speak and write so that employers will be impressed and hire them.  Her personal link awaits the responses of employers.



What is good writing?

Of course good writing is more than spelling, grammar, subject-verb agreement and syntax.  Good writing tells a story.  A good story has a beginning, a middle and an end.  Good writing will normally find a protagonist who changes at the end of the story.  Good writing might have an antagonist.  Good writing for sure, has a plot and a setting.  You can look for a climax and a conflict.  There can be a theme or a message or even a lesson learned.  Good writing ultimately, makes the reader not want the story to end.  Good writing causes the reader to become part of the story.  Good writing causes the reader to think about the story long after they have finished reading it.  Good writing is all about making the writer and the reader feel good about words.


Greetings to all!  I was a bit lost out in the internet world but I found my way.  Thank you Professor Colby!  I am a bit on the shy side but I love learning and I love books, reading and writing.  I am a Chinese student and one day I hope to be a children’s book author.  I have a passion for reading and I want to pass that passion on to children.  I am here to develop my writing ability as much as I can so I am very grateful to be here and to get advice and critique.  I discovered books when I was three years old and have loved words and the images that words can form inside a person’s mind.  I love expanding my imagination and seeing where it will take me.  I look forward to this class and to all the writing assignments and to growing my writing ability.  I am a wanna-be author and someday I hope that all of you will say, “Oh, I know her.  She used to be in my writing class.”  Thank you again Professor Colby for presenting me with this unique opportunity to grow my writing abilities.  I will not let you down.