Here’s the basic formula. READ + REPORT + WRITE + TALK + REPEAT = Improved Writing. Here’s how I break that down:
1) READ — Read good writing wherever you find it. Newspapers. Blogs. Online. Magazines. Broadcast. Fiction. When you read, think about what works and what doesn’t. Highlight what works for you. Ask why. Read Roy Peter Clark’s Writing Tools, or Jack Hart’s A Writer’s Coach.
2) REPORT — The sine qua non for writing at CUNY. It means: If you don’t do the reporting, the writing will never save you. Report, report, report! (BTW, it’s usually best to avoid showy Latin phrases in your writing.)
3) WRITE — Ledes. Nut grafs. Best quotes. Kickers (endings). Structure. Sentence length. Active verbs. Strong words at beginning and end of sentences. Front-end editing (talking/thinking out your story before you write). Edit/read over your story before turning in. We deal with all this, and more.
4) TALK — Talk to your professors, editors, coaches, classmates about your writing. Learn what works, what doesn’t, and why. Some of your best writing ideas can come from this.
5) REPEAT — Do it all over again. The more you do it, the better you’ll be. That’s a key part of the CUNY experience.
6)* ENJOY — Don’t ever forget, it’s fun, it’s informative, it’s why we’re all here.