Judicious Sentencing

Dan Binkley, Tom Stohlgren


Even the biggest ideas in ecology are communicated by strings of relatively small, simple words. Clear packaging of ideas into word strings requires skill in designing sentences and paragraphs. This seminar will sharpen your ability to craft clear and graceful sentences and paragraphs. Each week we'll have a series of sentences (and later, paragraphs) for you to polish and share with other students. We'll discuss how the various revisions enhance clarity, and why. We'll try to learn from some of Limerick's Rules of Verbal Etiquette, including: "When the passive-voice verb tries to drain the energy from your sentences, you must rescue the sentences and bring them back to life with active verbs." "Words hate it when you ask them to convey unclear thoughts or not thoughts at all. They are very uncomfortable when readers ask them, 'What on earth are you trying to say?' and they have no answer to give." "Weak subjects and verbs tremble and strain to hold up under the weight of important content. Kindness often requires their author to relieve them of this impossible task and replace them with strong subjects and strong verbs." "When you ask a group of sentences to form a paragraph, they expect to arrive in the paragraph and find that they have a lot in common. They expect, moreover, to find that one sentence is in charge..."

Section: 5
Credits: 1
Restrictions: none
First Meeting: 1/19/2011
Meeting Times: W 11:00-11:50
Classroom: NESB B215
CRN: 10367
Cross Listed: none
Enrollment Limit: 15
Background: none
Course Text: none
Instructor Contact Info:
      Dan Binkley dan@cnr.colostate.edu 970-491-6519
      Tom Stohlgren toms@nrel.colostate.edu