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Good Sentences: Good with Words

New with Patrick Barry! Good with Words - a series of courses through Coursera.

Writing and Editing: Word Choice and Word Order

This course will teach you how to use your written words to become more persuasive. You’ll learn creative ways to use syntax, effective techniques for telling stories, and a clever method for arranging a complex series of information. You’ll also get a chance to both professionalize your use of punctuation and add a bit of style and sophistication to how you craft everything from sentences to slogans.

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Writing and Editing: Drafting

This third course in the “Good with Words: Writing and Editing” series will give you a number of strategies to help with what is often the most intimidating, even paralyzing part of the writing process: getting started.

You’ll learn about the “planning fallacy” and “temptation bundling.” You’ll get a chance to experiment with “freewriting” and “writing before you are ready.” And you’ll continue to benefit, through our ongoing “Good Sentences” and “Takeaways” segments, from the models and advice of a diverse set of writers.

With all four courses in this series, you will get access to a wide range of books and other resources you can use even after you finish the course. These include:

  • the readings and exercises provided to the students who have taken the in-person version of this course at the University of Michigan and the University of Chicago
  • two digital libraries of excellent writing from a diverse collection of journalists, scientists, novelists, poets, historians, and entrepreneurs
  • a monthly “Good Sentences” email

Course Description

Perhaps the most important thing students and professionals of all kinds can do to improve their effectiveness is embrace the following advice: become good with words.

This series of courses targets the writing side of that recommendation. The skills it focuses on include everything from how to arrange a complex set of information in a reader-friendly way, to how to give and receive high-quality feedback, to how to consistently hit deadlines. This series features the following courses:

  • Writing and Editing: Word Choice and Word Order
  • Writing and Editing: Structure and Organization
  • Writing and Editing: Drafting
  • Writing and Editing: Revising

Part of Professor Barry’s proceeds from this course will be donated to the COVID-19 relief efforts of Ozone House, a shelter for homeless youth in Southeastern Michigan where he regularly conducts job-training workshops. These proceeds come from purchases of the version of the course that earns you a certificate. The course remains free for anyone who is simply auditing.

Writing and Editing: Structure and Organization

This second course in the Good with Words: Writing and Editing series will help you become an effective architect of information, both with your sentences and with your paragraphs. You’ll learn that the traditional advice to “Show, don’t tell” is incomplete and that skilled writers actually switch back and forth between showing and telling.

You’ll also learn more about the menu of time management techniques introduced in the first course of the series, including “deep work,” “studio time,” and “the Animal Farm Principle.”

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Writing and Editing: Revising

This fourth and final course in the “Good with Words: Writing and Editing” series will help you master perhaps the most important step in the writing process: revising. You’ll learn about the difference between editing and proofreading. You’ll practice “un-numbing the numbers” so that data and statistics you use are clear and compelling. And you’ll be introduced to a framework for giving and receiving feedback that helpfully systematizes what should be cut and what should be kept from each draft.