How to build on ideas without being a ripoff artist

You can write about and extend other people’s ideas. You can come up with your own, independently. But even if you think you thought of it, you’re better off checking first. Because ripoff artists are the worst. This week, Amy Chua is publishing a new book, called Political Tribes. Here’s the cover, along with the … Continued

Could the five-paragraph essay be the reason we’ve forgotten how to think?

David Labaree published a devastating takedown of the five-paragraph essay, that pernicious container that’s corrupting the teaching of writing everywhere. He’s made me wonder about my own rules and advice for writers. In my mind, writing and thinking are two sides of the same process. Separate the two, and thinking ceases to be important, which … Continued

Coming to a better conclusion: how to end an essay, blog post, or paper

“What should I write at the conclusion of my paper?” a student recently asked me. Endings are hard. The best ones don’t let up; they build on what you’ve already written. Beginnings are more important than endings; you need to capture the reader’s attention with your title and first few words. But as hard as … Continued

Emma Gonzalez and the power of victims

Look at this amazing statement from Emma Gonzalez, a survivor of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Is there any question that this woman will be one of tomorrow’s leaders? This level of passion, logic, persuasion, and maturity in an 18-year-old is remarkable. Ms. Gonzalez has taken her status as a victim and turned it … Continued

Time to cut burdensome airline regulations? Or add some more?

The Wall Street Journal reports that Airlines for America, the lobbying organization for airlines, has asked the Department of Transportation to end some popular airline rules. Donald Trump is all about cutting regulations, which is why his DOT asked the airlines what to cut. Any business owner will tell you that regulations are a pain … Continued

The clarity and candor of Bill and Melinda Gates

Bill and Melinda Gates answered ten tough questions about their charitable foundation in their tenth annual letter. Their writing is in the first person, clear, and direct, and they do a great job of admitting their mistakes. All corporate communications should be as candid and straightforward as this. Let’s look at some excerpts. The questions … Continued