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Feedback Q&A on Writing

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 10 letters




Dictation Comparison of various dictation programs USA
Screen Paradigm How many pages is a typical script? USA
Vocabulary Does knowing more words help in language? Cuba
Vocabulary Reading with professional vocabulary Saudi Arabia
General Business Writing versus Academic Writing USA
Book Report I don't know much about book reports USA
General How will we teach writing? Jordan
General Looking for lessons on fables USA
Journal Wants to write a journal of trip to France for new UK
Esteem What is the best way to start my book? USA

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First 10 letters

Comparison of various dictation programs

Topic: Dictation


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



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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How many pages is a typical script?

Topic: Screen Paradigm


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



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?

Topic: Vocabulary


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



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

Topic: 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



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

Topic: General


September 27, 2005

How does Business Writing differ from Academic Writing?

t - USA



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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I don't know much about book reports

Topic: Book Report


September 21, 2005

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

Benjamin - USA



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?

Topic: General


August 6, 2005

how will we teach writing?

ad - Jordan



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

Topic: General


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



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

Topic: Journal


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



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?

Topic: Esteem


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



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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