Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Scheduling Appointments: The How-To Edition

by Abby Ponder 

We’re beginning to get into crunch time, and so now, more than ever, we strongly encourage students to schedule their appointments with the Writing Center in advance.

If you’re struggling with scheduling your appointment online, follow this step-by-step guide to scheduling success!

Step One: Visit our website at

Step Two: Once on our website, scroll down until you see the option to “Schedule an Appointment.”

Step Three: Once you have clicked on the “Appointment Scheduler” link, you will be taken to the login page for TutorTrac. On this screen, you’ll enter your WKU NetID (not your 800#) and password.

Step Four: Once you’re logged in, move your mouse to hover over the “Go To…” tab. From there, you’ll click “Make Appointment.”

Step Five: Once you’ve clicked on “Make Appointment,” you’ll be taken to a screen where it will ask you to request a Center on the right side of the page. You might have to scroll down a little bit to see the Writing Center option. Once you see it, click on it and then hit “search.” (Don’t worry about looking at the options to select tutors and dates that are located on the lefthand side of the screen.)

Step Six: Once you have hit “Search,” scroll down to the bottom of the page. You will see all the names of the tutors, as well as the times they have appointments available. If you are able to click on a time slot—success! You’re well on your way! If the time you would like is not a clickable link, then that time is not available for appointment. 

Step Seven: After you have clicked on a time, you'll be taken to a screen where you schedule your appointment, and then you’re all set! You should immediately get an email confirmation from us that your appointment was scheduled.

Step Eight: Show up for your appointment! The day before your scheduled time, you should get a reminder email that your appointment is approaching. Students should bring with them a draft (or any work they have completed thus far) and, if they have it, a copy of the prompt. 

If you have any additional concerns about scheduling an appointment, we also have a handy dandy tutorial video to help guide you through the process. 

If you have any additional questions, you can email us at or give us a call at (270) 745-5719. 

We look forward to seeing you at your (newly scheduled) Writing Center appointment! 

Happy Writing! 

Monday, November 10, 2014

STEPS: Making a Difference in Literary Analysis Papers

The WKU Writing Center would like to announce an up-and-coming resource for students to utilize when writing literary analysis papers. 

STEPS (Students Teaching English Paper Strategies) is a web site designed to help students write good papers about literature. This site is constructed for students, by students, and provides a doable process for analyzing literature and writing about it. STEPS helps students identify literary devices, determine the themes of literary texts, develop thesis statements, and produce successful essays. The site is filled with sample essays, peer reviews, and processing notes for each step. Students will also find a helpful glossary of literary terms, with examples from various works, and links to additional writing resources. Please visit for more information.

For students taking English classes (both in or out of the major), STEPS provides relevant information for the various stages of the writing process. Sometimes, as a writer, you just get stuck and there's no real conceivable way to get out of the writing funk. However, just searching through some of the tabs on the site, I've found them to be very helpful at finding ways to propel the process along. Sometimes just reading about writing can get you ready to start writing. It's funny how that works sometimes...

There are two tabs that I found particularly helpful, as well. The "Process and Methods" and the "Resources" (the "Archives" section especially) tabs are both excellent tools to utilize. The latter section, the Archives, even has example papers and the writing process therein. Every person has their own writing (and editing) style(s), and it can be beneficial to see what works for someone else, and then try to apply similar techniques. 

The STEPS homepage.
So, whether you're stuck finding a starting point, or if you're just looking to improve your writing, we definitely encourage you to check out STEPS. The site is still in its beta-form, too, so be sure to leave any feedback you think might be helpful. 

Happy Writing! 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

11/6 Update: Adjusting Hours

Happy Thursday, folks! We hope you've been having an excellent week thus far! It's Homecoming and almost Thanksgiving Break. Life is good. 

In between all your Homecoming festivities and class assignments, we do have a couple of announcements we would like to share with you: 

Starting next week, we will be offering more appointment times in our Cravens location. On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, students will be able to schedule appointments at times between 4-7:30 (compared to the previous option of only 4-5). After 7:30, drop-in appointments will begin and continue until 9:00pm. 

Another new development is the fact that there will no longer be an option to schedule hour long appointments. All sessions will remain at the standard thirty minute length. 

Thank you all! Have a great rest of the week!

See, this dog heard about all these exciting things, and he just couldn't contain his excitement! We feel the same.
(Photo courtesy of

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The 2014 Writing Center's Costume Contest and Open House = SUCCESS!

by Abby Ponder

Happy (belated) Halloween and Happy (almost) Thanksgiving, folks!

It is officially November now, and that means we're beginning to enter the season of final research papers and looming projects. But it's still early November, so don't sweat just yet. (Though maybe start looking at those assignments now instead of later...)

However, before we move full-force into November, let's first take a look back on our final days of October. Or, more aptly put, Halloween!

As you all might've known, the WKU Writing Center hosted its first Costume Contest and Open House on Halloween this year. The festivities were open to all who were interested in attending, and we had an excellent turnout!

This photo and all the ones following it are courtesy of Jacky Killian.

Our costume contest included a variety of fantastic costumes that ranged from the elusive Carmen San Diego to a dead priest. The sky was the limit for these party-goers! 

Callie Compton as Carmen San Diego, here to bring your childhood front and center. 
Zach Puckett as Roxas from Kingdom Hearts
Lauren Witty as the Ram Zodiac from Fairy Tail
Sol Govin as the devil herself! 
Sasha Hardin as Misa from Death Note.

Travis Lewis as our resident dead priest. 
Chris Nealis as a stop sign, with his trusty dog... who pees on the stop sign. 
Our photographer, Jacky Killian, as Link from Legend of Zelda.
Brittany Moster as the fabulous Hermione Granger.
Marissa Tompkins as our second, but equally fabulous, Hermione Granger.
Dori Norman as the face of the rebellion, Miss Katniss Everdeen. 
Brianna Stewart and Andi Nealis (your wonderful coordinator of the day's festivities) as the in-conquerable Dynamic Duo.
The judging panel was composed of Dr. Jane Fife, Megan Siers, and myself. We definitely had our work cut out for us when it was time to pick our winners! Though we had winners in various categories, first place overall went to Jacky Killian (Link), second place to Callie Compton (Carmen San Diego), and third place to Dori Norman (Katniss Everdeen).

In addition to the costume contest, we also had a Two-Sentence Horror Story contest. First and second place went to Andi Nealis and Brittany Moster respectively!

Overall, the Writing Center's Costume Contest was an overwhelming success. For more pictures of the festivities, be sure to check out our album on Facebook (and maybe give us a "like" while you're there)!

Above all else, we hope you all had a wonderful (and safe) Halloween! Feel free to share your own costume designs in the comments section, or tell us what you hope to do next Halloween. (Stopping by the 2015 Costume Contest better be on your agenda, too!)

And, as always, don't forget that as we move into this admittedly stressful season, the Writing Center is here to help! You can start by scheduling an appointment by clicking here and selecting a time that works well for you. We are also available for drop-in appointments, but those function under a first come, first serve basis. 

Happy Writing! 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Trick or Treat!

Happy (almost) Halloween, folks! 

While planning your holiday festivities, don't forget to stop by the WKU Writing Center Costume Contest and Open House! On Friday, 10/31, at 1:00pm in Cherry 123, come and meet our tutors and see some amazing costumes! A prize will even be awarded for the best costume, as decided by our exceptional judging panel.

There will also be food provided, and all students, faculty, and staff are invited to participate in the costume contest!

We hope to see you all at our very own Monster Mash! (If you dare!)

Monday, October 20, 2014

"Red, the blood of angry pens; black, the marks of mistakes past..."

by Abby Ponder 

For almost all writers, editing is a fundamental aspect of the writing process. Without it, mistakes can be glossed over and points can remain unrefined. And while in a lot of cases editing is no one's idea of a good time, it certainly doesn't have to be the nightmare most people make it out to be.

Whenever I'm writing, my first draft is, to put it rather bluntly, a bit rough. Actually, it's more than a bit; it's generally so rough that I almost always refuse to let anyone else even glance at it. My first draft is usually a compilation of various outlines (a step outlined in a recent post) that have been tossed together into an assortment of paragraphs that are usually long and rambling with very little cohesion. It's something resembling a paper, but it's not there yet. Like I said, these initial drafts are rough--but that's okay.

Anne Lamott, most known for her novel Bird by Bird which highlights tips for successful writers of all genres, has a chapter in the aforementioned novel called "Shitty First Drafts." In the chapter, Lamott explains that a first draft is just that: a first draft. It doesn't have to be perfect, but it is a starting point. The whole point of the first draft is to get words and ideas on paper, after all, and that is almost always the hardest part of writing: you have all these fantastic ideas, but you might not have a specific place to start or a way to tie them all together. However, between the help of your outline and your "shitty first draft," you'll begin to have an idea come together and slowly but surely that idea will begin to blossom.

So, after you've written that first draft, some people write another one... and then maybe another one after that. I know that I usually go through several drafts before I am finally satisfied.

My British Fantasy Literature paper rocking some Les Miserables lyrics, as one naturally does. 
For example, I took a class last fall where I had to write a paper breaking down the concept of love in works of British Fantasy Literature. (Harry Potter was, unsurprisingly, incorporated into this assignment.) However, even though I intimately knew the subject matter, there were still a number of changes that needed to be made. A friend of mine helped me to put the editing process in perspective, made me take a step back and laugh at it, and the break from the seriousness was a tremendous help. 

Editing, in my experience, is mostly about taking that step back and examining what the words staring back at you are trying to say. It's akin to reading another person: they're trying to say something, but it is up to you to decipher the meaning. 

There are two things that I have found incredibly helpful in the editing process: (1) printing off the paper, and (2) reading it out loud. 

While it is easy enough to edit a paper on the computer (and, admittedly, it does save some on printing costs), there is something about editing a paper on, well, paper that makes a huge difference. People tend to be more inclined to skim when reading online, and consequently it can be very easy to skip over the small mistakes--especially when you're not on the hunt for a misplaced pronoun or a comma splice. When you print the paper out and literally put pen to paper, you'll be surprised at how many things you see. And, like with my paper above, there is a sense of accomplishment that comes from seeing a marked up paper. Sure, it means you still have a ways to go, but it also symbolizes progress, and progress is never a bad thing.

Next, reading the text to yourself (or another person) can alter your perception of the words. Reading aloud forces you to interact with the paper and actively think about both the content and the style. Additionally, most people have a tendency to catch any misplaced words or confusing phrases when they're hearing or speaking them. What sounds good in your head may not always work out loud, and this step can do a lot in terms of drawing attention to that. 

Just make sure that whenever it seems like too much, and you feel as though you can't make sense of the words anymore, take a break. Sometimes you need to give your brain some room to breath, and then you can come back ready to get back to work. 
Comic by Debbie Ohi
When you feel like you're finished, though, or even if you're stumped along the way, don't forget to utilize the WKU Writing Center. While we are not an editing service, we will help walk you through any bumps in the road you may be having. Sometimes it's nice to have a second opinion on things, too. 

As always, you can schedule an appointment by clicking here and selecting a time that works well for you. We are also available for drop-in appointments, but those function under a first come, first serve basis.

Happy Writing! 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Understanding Your WKU Library and the Looming Research Project

by Abby Ponder 

Well, we're all back from Fall Break now (or, at least, most of us are) and that can only mean one thing: those mid-term and final deadlines that initially seemed so far away? They're approaching--fast. And for a lot of students, that final project will be coming in the form of a research paper. (But have no fear, the Writing Center is here!)

So, you're staring at this blank slate of an assignment with no clue what to do next. You have a topic, maybe, but all that supporting research? Where are you supposed to get it? Well, my friend, the library is your new best friend when it comes to getting started on your research. There are floors upon floors of shelves upon shelves, and lots of friendly people there to assist you along the way. Books are unfortunately becoming an underutilized resource so make sure you take the time to utilize them; you can find a lot of great information in between the lines.

Remember these guys? They knew to search between the lions.
Photo courtesy of Mississippi Kids Count (
If you haven't paid a visit to WKU's very own library yet (Helms-Cravens), it is located in the center of WKU's campus between Grise and Garrett. If you've ever visited Java City for a quick caffeine fix, you're in the right place! Just travel through the Confucius Institute and you're in library territory. (Or enter through the Commons at Cravens, located between FAC and Grice.) If you're not on main campus, though, the regional campuses each have their own libraries, too.

However, we know that getting into the library isn't always an option. In that case, the WKU library has extensive online databases at your disposal. On the library homepage there is an option to explore Electronic Resources. In most cases, students will use the Databases option, though there are a variety of others to explore, too. Once you're in the Databases, you can opt to use EBSCOHost, Jstore, Newstand, etc. (If you are not using a university computer you may be prompted to enter your NetID and password, but from then on you'll have complete access.) From that point, you'll be able to search to your heart's content. 

The search engine for EBSCOHost, which can be found here.
After you have found your treasured resources, whether they be books from the library or journals collected via some of the databases, there are a variety of citation formats to be aware of that depend on the style guide in question (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc) and the source that you're using (online journals, novels, newspapers, etc). For a quick look at the more common style guides, the Purdue Owl has some great guides to MLAAPA , and AP, while the Chicago Manuel of Style has its very own guide available on its website.

Throughout the whole process, though, don't forget that the WKU Writing Center is here to assist you along the way! We encourage you to schedule an appointment with us at your convenience, but we are also available for drop-in appointments on a first come, first serve basis.

Happy Writing!