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


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 composition, business, STEM/Technical Writing, and creative writing courses. 

Writing Commons houses ten main sections: Academic Writing | Rhetoric | Information Literacy | Evidence & Documentation | Research Methods & Methodologies | Style | New Media Communication | Professional & Technical Communication | Creative Writing | Reviews

The two best ways to navigate through Writing Commons are using the top menu navigation, under Chapters, or use the site search field to the right of the menu.

The art of the short story resides in the heft of details, characters and scenes that must necessarily remain hidden from view, trapped beneath a surface comprised of approximately five thousand words. Let’s say you write a short story in which the protagonist, a woman, drives down a narrow country road that cuts through a fictional town in Connecticut. She is on her way to visit her father, who still lives in the house where she grew up. The woman is fleeing her past, one that includes a recent ex-husband. In the back seat of the car is their three-year-old son.

In January 2012, I sat in a second-floor classroom that rounded into a castle-like turret: Graves Hall at Hope College. It was my first creative writing class. Outside, snow was falling and inside my peers and I leaned forward in our rolly chairs. Dr. Heather Sellers stood in front of the whiteboard. She put her hands together in a bowl. She extended her arms toward my peers and me. “You’ve got to offer your readers your best whiskey.”

Stephanie Vanderslice's most recent book is Rethinking Creative Writing. With Dr. Kelly Ritter, she has also published Teaching Creative Writing to Undergraduates and Can It Really Be Taught: Rethinking Lore in Creative Writing Pedagogy. She publishes fiction, nonfiction and creative criticism and her work is represented by Pen and Ink Literary. Professor of Creative Writing and Director of the Arkansas Writer's MFA Workshop at the University of Central Arkansas, her column, The Geek's Guide to the Writing Life appears regularly in the Huffington Post. In 2012 Dr. Vanderslice was named Carnegie Foundation/Case Association for the Support of Education US Professor of the Year for the state of Arkansas.

Trent Hergenrader is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he teaches creative writing and literature. His research focuses on creative writing studies, digital writing, and game-based learning, which he brings together in courses where students collaboratively build vast fictional worlds using role-playing games as models for their writing. His short fiction has appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Realms of Fantasy, The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk, Best Horror of the Year #1 and other fine places, and he is co-editor of Creative Writing in the Digital Age: Theory, Practice, and Pedagogy.

Timons Esaias is a satirist, poet, and writer of short fiction, living in Pittsburgh.  His work, ranging from literary to genre, has appeared in fifteen languages.  He won an Asimov's Readers' Award and was a finalist for the British Science Fiction Award.  He has had over one hundred poems in print, including Spanish, Swedish and Chinese translations, in markets ranging from Asimov’s Science Fiction to 5AM and Elysian Fields Quarterly: The Literary Journal of Baseball.  His poetry chapbook, The Influence of Pigeons on Architecture, sold out two editions. He is adjunct faculty at Seton Hill University in the Writing Popular Fiction M.F.A. Program.

Maureen Seaton is the author of six poetry collections, including Cave of the Yellow Volkswagen and Furious Cooking. She is the recipient of the Lambda Award, the Audre Lorde Award, the Iowa Prize for Poetry, an NEA fellowship, and the Pushcart Prize. She is associate professor of English at the University of Miami, where she teaches poetry and literary collage.

Interview with Ms. Maureen Seaton

I am a poet myself and have taught writing for ten years and am always looking for ways to enrich composition essays with creative writing. My Ph.D. is in American literature so I work to bring this literary tradition into a composition classroom. My current research is concerned with women’s body issues, and I teach a Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) class along with my Composition classes at the University of Miami.

It is not uncommon to lament the widespread use of “textspeak”or what is perceived as the general decline of grammatically correct English. Enter Weird Al Yankovic’s “Word Crimes,” a parody of Robin Thicke’s controversial “Blurred Lines.” In the former, the lyrics denigrate the imagined listener for taking liberties with Standard English—but I would argue that that, too, is just as controversial.

In the same way that Thicke’s song denies women their agency, Yankovic denies the value of dialects other than “academese.” Indeed, he sings that ”Literacy's your mission,” which narrows the definition of literacy to a specific type—a type to which new literacy and community literacy scholars, for example, might object, since its emphasis is on reading and writing in a particular style.

Reviewed by Traci Zimmerman, Academic Unit Head and Professor, James Madison University

For scholars and educators, having access to knowledge and being able to share ideas is the bedrock upon which our entire educational and democratic enterprise depends. For Aaron Swartz, information access and dissemination was seen as a fundamental human right, a right certainly worth fighting for, and a fight that would ultimately lead to his tragic suicide at the age of 26. Brian Knappenberger’s film deftly tells the story of Aaron’s life as a way not only to illustrate and advance the cause for which he lived but also to catalyze questions and inspire change as we understand and examine the circumstances of his death.

Dan Melzer. Logan: Utah State University Press, 2014. 148 pp. $24.95 pbk.

Reviewed by: Jason Tham, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, MN

Writing assignments are one of the fundamental pieces of classroom discourse that contain rich information about the rhetorical contexts of writing across the curriculum (WAC). This book presents Melzer’s study of 2,101 undergraduate writing assignments in 100 postsecondary institutions in the United States.