USF Writing Studio

Archive for February, 2017


Working a Writing Center Front Desk: A Personal Perspective

Monday, February 27th, 2017 | Posted in Uncategorized by dmfarrar | No Comments »

Jakob Bloc PicBy Jakob Hartung, USF Academic Success Center Ambassador

The Writing Studio is not just another paycheck for its employees but rather a great environment with the opportunity to help students in need. Throughout my personal workday, I find that being a successful student at the university is all about troubleshooting. Much like a programmer works through their code making adjustments, a desk staff employee (what we call Academic Success Center Ambassadors) like myself, has to work through a student’s schedule, conflicts in class, and make sure they are not turned away without help in order to “troubleshoot” their unique academic or professional obstacle they wish to overcome.

I have to constantly make sure I am offering every service that not only the Writing Studio has but anywhere on campus that can assist a student to achieve the academic standing they desire. The Writing Studio is a welcoming home filled with many dedicated consultants and great employees to help you find your way. I love that the Studio does not restrict any USF student from trying to access our services. At any moment, you can find engineering grad students to First-Year Composition students working toward improving either their assignments to “ace” the class or a résumé to “get the job.” For me, the Studio has allowed me to help and meet many new faces and hear various unique stories, and, for this, I cannot wait to continue to be a part of the ASC Ambassador team. I encourage all students to give us a try because I know all the immense help that we can deliver to each individual student and hopefully reduce a lot of unnecessary stress.

Hope to see you soon!


Thesis Statements: Changing One Sentence to Fit Your Paper

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017 | Posted in Uncategorized by dmfarrar | No Comments »

Will Blog Pic3By Will Forde-Mazrui, Writing Studio Consultant

As writers, many of us believe that a piece of writing must be written in chronological order: from start to finish. Not only do we struggle to put the first word onto a blank page (for help with this specific issue, see the advice from Lesley Brooks on January 23rd, 2017), many students think they have to choose a thesis at the end of that first paragraph and stick with it. Many years into my academic career, I was given this piece of advice:

Why change your paper to fit one sentence? Change one sentence to fit your paper.

This was the best piece of writing advice I ever received; however, while writing a paper, it IS important to have a thesis in mind, as this will give the paper a central argument that makes each part work together. I call this preliminary argument the working thesis, as it helps keep each section of a paper working together, without the pressure of THE thesis. Accomplishing the change from a “working thesis” to a final “thesis” can be managed in a few “simple” steps.

Step 1: Create a “working thesis,” or, what you expect your paper will argue.

Step 2: Write the rest of the paper, essay, or assignment. (If only it were this simple!)

Step 3: Read through each section of the essay, except for the introduction.

Step 4: Ask yourself, what does this paper argue, prove, show?

Step 5: Re-write your introduction and thesis to ask THIS question. Often, the “working thesis” is similar to THE thesis, but this may not be the case.

By following these steps, students can prevent receiving feedback like “This essay claims to answer _____; however, it answers _____.” Or, “This essay is well organized and argues ______; however, the introduction and thesis claim to investigate _____.”

A working thesis is something that many Writing Studios believe can be an invaluable addition to the writing process for students, regardless of their level. For additional advice on how a “working thesis” can help throughout the research process, visit East Tennessee State University’s Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Writing Center’s great tips about “Arriving at a Working Thesis.”


Grammar: The Dreaded “G” Word

Monday, February 13th, 2017 | Posted in Uncategorized by dmfarrar | No Comments »

Seth Blog Pic SPR17By Seth Spencer, Writing Studio Consultant

Nobody likes talking about grammar – it’s just one of those subjects that causes massive outbreaks of narcolepsy among students. As unpleasant as this topic may be, “good” grammar is a cornerstone of effective communication. It’s one of the building blocks of language, and it could mean the difference between sounding like an authority on the subject of your writing and sounding like a total buffoon.

Recently, several YouTube channels helping writers tackle this tricky topic have sprung up. If you’re struggling with a particular grammar question or you just need a quick refresher on “who” vs. “whom,” take a gander at these channels. Your fear of the dreaded “G” word will fade, and you’ll master this aspect of writing with the help of these resources!

Grammar Girl

Grammar Girl, primarily known as a website devoted to answering various grammar questions, now employs YouTube as another medium to spread its message. The lengths of the videos vary, ranging anywhere from 15 seconds to 15 minutes, and they cover just about every topic under the sun. Not only do they address pretty standard topics like passive voice and contractions, some even address literary terms like irony, and others talk about the craft of writing dialogue for plays and screenplays. One of the handiest features is the “Quick Tips” series. These videos, in 15 seconds, address common grammar questions many students have in an entertaining and informative way.

Check out Grammar Girl’s YouTube channel here. You can also find Grammar Girl on Facebook as well as many other sites.

Comma Queen

Mary Norris, AKA the Comma Queen, is a copyeditor who has worked for the prestigious magazine The New Yorker for 24 years. Recently, she has released a series of videos addressing some of the most frequently asked grammar questions posed by writers. Most of them are quite short, ranging from one to five minutes. Her videos, with amusing titles such as “The Semicolon; or, Mastering the Giant Comma” and “Excuse Me! Your Participle is Dangling,” educate writers on these diverse topics while maintaining a light-hearted, accessible tone.

Check out her video series on The New Yorker’s YouTube channel here.


engVid is a fantastic resource used by writers for whom English is not their native language. Not only can you learn basic sentence construction and tackle complex grammatical issues, but the channel features eleven different “teachers” you can choose from depending on your preferred learning style. engVid even hosts videos that help English language learners in certain social situations, such as how to start a conversation, how to tell a joke, and the correct lingo to use while texting! The videos also feature a mixture of traditional “whiteboard” lectures and eye-catching graphics that reinforce the lessons. Most of the videos are short, lasting around five minutes.

Check out engVid’s channel here.

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