A free, comprehensive, peer-reviewed, award-winning Open Text for students and faculty in college-level courses that require writing and research.

How to use Writing Commons?

Welcome to Writing Commons, the open-education home for writers. Writing Commons helps students improve their writing, critical thinking, and information literacy. Founded in 2008 by Joseph M. Moxley, Writing Commons is a viable alternative to expensive writing textbooks. Faculty may assign Writing Commons for their compositionbusiness, STEM/Technical Writing, and creative writing courses. 

Writing Commons houses seven main sections: Information Literacy | Research Methods & Methodologies | Writing Processes | Collaboration | Genres | New Media | Style 

The two best ways to navigate through Writing Commons are using the top menu navigation, called Open Text, or the left-hand navigation menu system.  


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Writing a Short Story

By: Julie Nichols 

We tell stories every day of our lives. “What did you do last week?” “What happened with your cousin and that girlfriend of his?” “How did your mom break her leg?” –the answers to these, and a million similar questions that make up our everyday conversations, are stories, narratives with a beginning, middle, and end. Usually there’s some kind of static situation at the beginning; then complications happen, with unexpected turns for the better or worse, so that things as they were at the beginning more or less fall apart. But then, because of someone’s ingenuity or good (or bad) luck, everything refashions itself into a brand new state of being, one we might never have imagined. Often it’s in some way the reverse of the state of things at the beginning.


 The principal difference between our chatty, enthusiastic narratives in response to everyday questions and a fine written short story lies in the shaping.

Short stories, or fictional prose, can vary in length from the six-word short story (Hemingway’s famous “For sale: baby shoes, never worn” tells a complete and poignant tale) to upwards of 20,000 words. Many literary magazines ask for somewhere between three and five thousand words. So part of the joy and challenge of writing a fine short story is knowing what to leave out without leaving out too much.  If “show, don’t tell” and “provide sensory detail” are fundamental tenets of good short story writing, “select, select, select” is their emphatic caveat.


You-Centered Business Style

by Angela Eward-Mangione, USF


Considering the rhetorical aspects of any writing situation, such as purpose, stance, and audience, is an essential part of adapting the style of a message for any audience. Adopting a you-centered business style can help you achieve your purpose, choose a stance, and analyze your audience.  A you-centered business style employs the you view and an audience-centered tone to choose particular words and adopt a targeted tone in a message.




The “you view” analyzes and emphasizes the reader’s interests and perspectives. Because the reader’s interest or benefit is stressed, the writer is more likely to help the reader understand information or act on a request. Adopting a you view often, but not always, involves using the words you or your rather than we, our, I, and mine. Consider the following sentence that focuses on the needs of the writer and the organization (we) rather than on those of the reader.


Professional and Technical Writing Processes: Composing

composingby Angela Eward-Mangione, USF


Overview: This article will discuss the role of assembling and organizing relevant research and/or data in order to compose correspondence or a document that solves a writing problem.


Learning Outcomes

  • Compose an evidence-based solution for a writing problem by assembling and organizing relevant research and/or data
  • Explain what the EPA is doing about fluoride in drinking water
  • Define what fluoride is
  • Explain how fluoride gets into drinking water
  • List some of the effects of fluoride
  • Include specific data
  • Refer to Safe Water Drinking Act 


Professional and Technical Writing Processes: Planning

by Angela Eward-Mangione, USF


PlanningLearning Objectives


  • analyze a writing problem and outline a plan for solving the problem that illustrates and analyzes audience while creating various professional/technical documents with a sophisticated awareness of audience as a reader and a writer.
  • operate current technologies in order to produce effective documents. 





Photos on this page courtesy of University of Pennsylvania, University Communications.

Plugs Play Pedagogy Blog


Kyle Stedman is assistant professor of English at Rockford University, where he teaches first-year composition, digital rhetoric, and creative writing. He studies rhetorics of sound, intellectual property, and fan studies. On QuizUp, his highest scores are in Lost (the TV show)..."

Attack of the Cloned Teaching Statements
Plugs, Play, Pedagogy Podcast
  Welcome to Episode 2 of Plugs, Play, Pedagogy: Attack of the Cloned Teaching Statements! As always, you can listen here at Writing Commons, subscribe on Stitcher or iTunes, or download in multiple formats from Podigee.  Produced and recorded by Kyle Stedman (; @kstedman), assistant professor of English at Rockford University, in cooperation with KairosCast and Writing Commons. In search of answers to why teaching philosophy statements bother me so much, I share i...
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