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blog | June 19, 2015

Five for Friday: Resources for the Right Paragraph

By David Hopkins

You won’t be surprised to know I had a difficult time finding resources related specifically to writing great paragraphs. (If you find any you would recommend, please post in the comments.) So instead, this week, I’ll provide some general writing resources from a range of places. I’m offering a book, a conference, a desktop app, a handout, and my favorite word processing program. Hint: It’s not Microsoft Word.

1. The Sound on the Page by Ben Yagoda — My loyalty belongs to A Writer’s Coach by Jack Hart, which I say is the only writing book you really need. And I stand by that. But this one is good too. The focus here is on style and voice. Ben Yagoda explores the discovery process that happens when writers start writing.

2. AWP Conference & Bookfair — The Association of Writers & Writing Programs is truly wonderful. Not only do they have a great magazine, but they also have an incredible writing conference or so I’ve heard. I’ve always viewed writing conferences with skepticism. The thought of being in a large room with hundreds of other writers makes me nervous. But I’ll give this one the benefit of the doubt.

3. Hemingway App — This app is fairly cool. It will rate the readability of your work, highlighting hard to read sentences, pointing out your adverbs, passive voice, and phrases that could be simpler. The app is not a replacement for good judgment, but it may help you be more mindful about your writing. (For example, this blog post was listed with a “good” readability at a grade 7 level and zero sentences that were “very hard to read.” One instance of passive voice. Hooray for me.)

4. The Writing Center for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — Ha! I found a handout on writing paragraph. The Writing Center is quite thorough with several example paragraphs. They go into using transitions; something I didn’t really dig into with my post on writing paragraphs.

5. iA Writer — I love this word processing program. For a writer, it provides a clean and uncluttered canvas. If you need to write and only write, this program does it without getting too fancy or complicated. I adore the “focus mode” and the ease of importing and exporting to and from Microsoft Word.

These resources dabble with some varsity-level writing guidance. Do you need special apps and a conference? Not really. But if you want to challenge yourself as a writer, you might want to take the plunge.