I joined the NWACC Writing Center faculty after careers in the military, leadership consulting, and financial planning. Raised in Pine Bluff (AR), I completed my undergraduate work at the University of Arkansas, a master’s degree at the University of Missouri–Columbia, and my Ph.D. in English at the University of Texas–Austin.
In the Army I served as a public affairs officer for the army surgeon general in Washington DC. From 1987 to 1992, I was chief of the army writing program for the army medical department and was responsible for training over 5,000 officers in effective management writing. I completed a 21-year career in 1996 and moved with my wife Brenda to Rogers. We have a daughter and a grandson.
I have taught Composition II and Technical Writing and worked in the Writing Center for NWACC. I have also taught for the University of Texas–Austin, St. Leo’s College, Columbia College, and the San Antonio Art Institute. My published writing ranges from news releases to scholarly publications, radio spots to administrative and technical documents. I’ve also written poetry and fiction. Currently, I write a monthly column for the Morning News of Northwest Arkansas.
1. I try to write something in the first paragraph that compels the reader to read my essay. That something rarely comes to me during the first
draft. The last thing I write in the first draft is the introductory paragraph. My first effort is usually obvious and mechanical, so I know that I must change it. I then read the first draft to discover
what the essay should be about and rewrite a few sentences and jot down some notes to focus the paper more sharply. Then I try to answer these questions:
1. Why do I care about this topic?
2. What do I want the reader to do or think after reading my essay?
3. If I could tell the reader only one thing about
my topic, what would it be?
4. What motivation could I tap to entice the reader
to read beyond the first sentence? First paragraph?
5. What crucial information would be lost if I just eliminated the first paragraph? Too often, the answer is none.
6. Could that information be placed elsewhere
just as effectively?
Only after answering these questions do I consider the traditional introductory devices: a provocative quotation, a meaningful statistic, a poignant anecdote, a striking assertion, etc.
2. In revising an early draft, I repeat a key word (noun or verb) from the preceding sentence in the one I am writing. This practice can improve the unity of the essay without my even thinking about it.