List of Topics


Writing Feedback

by Ron Kurtus

Readers have sent in a total of 141 comments and questions on Writing issues. They are listed according to date.

You can read them to further your understanding of the subject.

List of next 15 letters




Comparison of various dictation programs Dictation USA
How many pages is a typical script? Screen Paradigm USA
Does knowing more words help in language? Vocabulary Cuba
Reading with professional vocabulary Vocabulary Saudi Arabia
Business Writing versus Academic Writing General USA
I don't know much about book reports Book Report USA
How will we teach writing? General Jordan
Looking for lessons on fables General USA
Wants to write a journal of trip to France for new Journal UK
What is the best way to start my book? Esteem USA
Wants to write chidlren's science articles Esteem Malaysia
Wants to improve vocabulary Vocabulary China
Writing a report on public health Book Report Ethiopia
Wants to start a publishing company Get Paid for Fiction USA
How do you start write the first sentence? General Malaysia

Next 15 letters


First 15 letters


Comparison of various dictation programs

October 15, 2005


Where can I get an unbised comparison of various dictation programs? I purchased
Xpressions Media Talk It Type It. Its accuracy is disapointing even after extensive training.

Leon Weiss

Leon - USA (8566)


ScanSoft at owns the two leading speech recognition software packages: Dragon Natural Speaking and IBM ViaVoice. Dragon is slightly better, but they are both good. You can get the basic version for a relatively low price.

Since they are not very popular, I haven't found much in the line of comparisons. PC Magazine may have reviews on these products.

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Screen Paradigm

How many pages is a typical script?

October 12, 2005


Yes, I was curious. Im writing a screenplay that is an epic. Now how many pages is an epic usually? How many pages is a typical hollywood script (like a movie thats 90 minutes).

Eric - USA (8528)


Hollywood agents and producers like to see a script that is 120 pages long. That fits well into their format. A longer script or something like an epic can be a hard-sell unless it is from a book.

The big thing you need is to be able to summarize what your script or story is about in two short paragraphs, one page and six pages. The paragraphs are for a verbal pitch of your idea. The 1-page and 6-page summaries are used in selling the project.

Best wishes in getting your screenplay made into a movie.

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Does knowing more words help in language?

October 9, 2005


Hi, my name is Daniel Reyes, I am a teacher of English a foreign language in Cuba. Several times I have heard some people saying that "The more words you know in a language, the better you know the language" is a misconception. I would like to hear other opinions about this statement. Thank you.

Daniel - Cuba (8466)


I think it is important to have a good vocabulary in commonly used words in a language. But there is a point where increased vocabulary does not help you know the language any better. It seems to mainly be more impressive.

For example, in teaching your students English, it is important for them to learn the words commonly used in everyday conversation or writing. Also, it is important for them to learn the rules of grammar and the possible different sentence structures than are used in Cuba. If a student is going into a specialized field or wants to speak and read on a higher level, then those more difficult words can be learned. Note that the same is also true for English-speaking students, wishing to specialized.

An interesting area in teaching young people concerns the slang expressions used by young people in the other language. Most seem to pick up on those expressions on their own.

To answer your question, I feel that common vocabulary and rules of grammar are important in knowing a language, but specialized and more advanced words do not really help in "knowing the language."

Best wishes in your classes.

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Reading with professional vocabulary

October 4, 2005


i am using the interet in learn how reading with professionlly vocabulary and i need all the help i can get. thanks

saynab - Saudi Arabia (8383)


Go to our section on Famous Speeches at:

The speeches have sound, so you can read along while listening to the words. This is a good way to learn to speak English better.

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Business Writing versus Academic Writing

September 27, 2005


How does Business Writing differ from Academic Writing?

t - USA (8318)


Often academic writing is research-based and requires many references. You have to prove just about everything you say and give a reference on who said it and what the resource was. Unfortunately, it also can lead to boring reading.

Business writing is meant specifically to communicate information to other workers or to the customers. Clarity is what is important. Some business writing is meant for marketing purposes to sell the product. Seldome are references included, except in technical reports.

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Book Report

I don't know much about book reports

September 21, 2005


Please help I don't know much about book reports this is my first one.

Benjamin - USA (8225)


Pick 3 main ideas from the book and tell something about them. The easiest way to get started is to use our Aid for Writing a Book Report that will guide you through the process and get you started.

Also, do not be afraid to ask your teacher what is expected in a book report. Often they assume everyone knows, but they should explain it.

Best wishes on your report.

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How will we teach writing?

August 6, 2005


how will we teach writing?

ad - Jordan (7733)


The best way to learn writing is to write short articles on many topics. Then have someone evaluate the writing. Often comparing with more professional writing, the student can see examples and have a goal to achieve.

Thus, to teach writing, you must encourage the students to write as much as possible, so that it is not an effort for them. Then let others read it and give positive criticism.

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Looking for lessons on fables

August 4, 2005


I was looking for lessons on fables and I really liked what I read here. But, I couldn't find any information on how to get the lessons. Is there a book for sale?

Susanna - USA (7717)


We have a short lesson on "Interpreting Aesop's Fables to Teach Values" but it really doesn't give much information. The book is cute, but unfortunately out of print.

Are you looking for examples of fables, how to write them or how to use them in teaching?

We plan to have something in those areas in the future.

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Wants to write a journal of trip to France for new

August 1, 2005


Hello, I'm twenty yrs. old and currently studying French and English Literature at Lancaster University, and am bored at work and just searching some sites. I'm interested in journalism, but I'm afraid I have very limited experience in getting material published. However, next year I am spending a year abroad as a teaching assistant in France (it's part of my course), and we are instructed to keep a diary. Further to this, I wanted to embellish the diary (similar to what you've suggested) to create a more acute, humorous sense of being a foreigner. I am aware that this has been done before (Bill Bryson, etc.), but cannot recall ever having read a sort of travelog from a young female students point of view. Do you think that there is a potential market for this? I was thinking of getting at least an excerpt from the actual diary published in a couple of the course books, and then trying further afield to get the fictional version published. What do you think my chances are without having any previous 'real' experience? Sorry for being so long-winded, I'm English...Thanks in advance!

Gaelle - UK (7684)


If you are interested in journalism, perhaps you should shift your major over to that subject. Although French and English literature may be interesting, most jobs with that major consist of teaching French and English literature.

Your year abroad is an excellent opportunity to break into journalism. You can approach some local newspapers and ask if they would be interested in occasional articles on your experiences and observations. The best place to start is a small newspaper or weekly magazine in your home town. They often are looking for stories--especially if they are free. Also, they like to have material about a local person, as a human interest story. You may get a number of rejections, but don't give up. It also can be a door-opener to future assignments.

You can also put your material in a blog. You can set up a free account with It is the rage, but unfortunately, many people now thing they are writers.

The big thing is to write, write, write. You can then put your material in many different formats.

Best wishes in your adventure, and let me know how things turn out.

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What is the best way to start my book?

July 29, 2005


I have not yet begun to write my book. I have so many ideas that are running through my head that it seems like my brain is scrambled. What is the best way to start writing and to get my ideas down on paper?

Tia - USA (7653)


Make a list of your ideas. Otherwise, you may forget them. The big thing is to define what the book is about. That may take much refinement. Finish the sentence: "This is a book about..."

Some people write a book a page at a time, just letting the ideas flow. Others will outline the plot, and even name the chapters before filling in the details. Do what works best for you, but DO start writing. Once you have material on disk, you can always cut and paste and juggle things around, as you refine your story.

Best wishes on writing your book.

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Wants to write chidlren's science articles

July 13, 2005


I want to take up writing as a part time career. I am interested to write non- fiction for children. Being a former marine scientist, I thought of introducing children to the underwater world. But I do not have much ideas to go about it. So I am contemplating on taking up a course in writing from The Writers Bureau LTD of Manchester. But I am very sceptical if they are genuine because their claims seems to be too good. Please advise what I should do or how I should go about my writing carrier.

Thank you.
Jay, Malaysia

Jay - Malaysia (7527)


Typically a writing course will give you practice writing. You may get some advice on style and grammar, etc. But the real part of writing non-fiction for children is in finding outlets for your writing.

I suggest that you seek out magazines for children that have science information articles, and then study them for the type of writing used. Check with your local schools to see if they subscribe to such magazines for the students or their library.

The book Writer's Market usually has listing of magazines for each group. Unfortunately, most magazines in the book are based in the U.S. You really need to start with magazines in your area.

Another possible source is a local newspapers. Often they would be glad to get a short article on a scientific subject for children and students.

If you can find some magazines that have similar articles, you can check with them for their requirements and then submit a short article. Short and simple is the initial route to go. Don't expect much--if any--financial return at first.

One good thing to do is to find a photographer or illustrator to work with on your articles. The combination of good information with some pictures or drawings will readily sell.

After you get enough material published, you may be able to put it all together into a book for children.

Try to get a copy of the Writer's Market book. It gives good tips on getting published.

Best wishes in your new career. It should be satisfying. The first step is the hardest.

Let me know how things turn out.

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Wants to improve vocabulary

July 10, 2005


I don't have very good vocabulary, but if I really try to learn the words, I
can't memorize them. That will effect my in writing, and I won't be in a gifted and talented class. Therefore, I'm in China now and my vocabulary is the best NOW. What should I do?

Alice - China (7508)


The most important part of you vocabulary is to use words that other can understand. Some people with large vocabularies sound smart, but many people don't understand what they are talking about.

A good way to improve your vocabulary is to keep a small, pocket dictionary with you. When you are reading and run into a new word, you should look it up to see what it means. It is also a good idea to write down the word in a notebook of new words. Then try to use that word again in conversation or something you write. It is much easier to remember a word if you write it down and then use it.

Having that habit, you will gradually improve your vocabulary. Also note that you are learning words that are useful to you and not obscure words.

Best wishes in improving your vocabulary.

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Book Report

Writing a report on public health

June 18, 2005


Dear Sir,
I am doing my master in public health and i am wrting report on the give texts for the course.
I just wanted more information o how i can write good book report in my text books. I espcially have concern on how i can accomodate differet concepts in diferent chaprers. The concept i see in the texs are not as few as 3 but they are many.
thank you in advance

abdurahman - Ethiopia (7306)


You can use our program as a guide to get started. Outlining your material with the major headings and key points is a good method to organize an extensive report.

See: and for information on outlining.

I hope that helps in writing your report. Best wishes in your efforts and I hope you get a good grade.

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Get Paid for Fiction

Wants to start a publishing company

June 2, 2005


Hello. I am a screen/fiction/poetry writer and am starting an independent off/on-line magazine and an independent publishing company. Any helpful hints or directons you can point me in? Content and non capital resources are set and ready but I come mainly from the film world and am somewhat new then to the production, distribution and legal aspects of the magazine/publishing world.
Thank you

B - USA (7154)


Most people who self-publish do so by formally starting a publishing company. Check out some books on self-publishing for details on forming a publishing company. One good one is "The Publishing Game" by Fern Reiss.

Just like any website, the online magazine or e-zine business has a revenue problem. People don't want to pay for subscriptions, and you can't make enough from ads.

If you have a hot niche for a magazine, you might be able to get funding. You could produce an e-zine for free and later offer a hardcopy version, if your ideas take off.

I think the best thing is to start by looking over some self-publishing books. They also cover distribution and legal issues. The business is very parallel to what you want to do.

Best wishes with your ventures, and let me know how things turn out.

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How do you start write the first sentence?

May 30, 2005


Hi, Thanks to helping people. the question i do know how to start write the first sentence, spelling wrong sometimes. for overcome the problem what i should to do.

krishnan - Malaysia (7124)


In the first sentence, you can write: "This article (or story) is about.." and then finish that thought. You can speak the sentence to yourself first and then write it down.

If you use a word processor to write, you can quickly check your spelling. If you are writing by hand, keep the words simple. Perhaps have someone look at what you have written before passing it on.

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Next 15 letters


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