Cover-best Great news! The S.O.S. Writing textbook is nearing completion and should be available on Apple iBooks very soon. Please write to me if you would like a personal alert when the book becomes available!


P.S.: More wonderful news is that the book will be able to be read not only on an iPad, but also on any Apple product that is using the newest operating system, OS X 10.9, also called Mavericks. You will just need the free iBooks app.

Get ready. You are about to learn how to write better—far better.

Whether you are a student, a teacher, an aspiring novelist, a freelance writer, or simply a lover of the written word, the S.O.S. Writing program will show you the secrets that professional authors use to achieve clarity and style. You will learn how the magicians of writing—writers like John Updike, E. B. White, J. K. Rowling, and Michael Crichton—do their tricks. And best of all, these techniques apply to all kinds of writing, including fiction, academic essays, blogs, journalism, even poetry. All good writing has Style, Organization, and Specifics.

Let’s take a moment to get oriented. There are two components to the S.O.S. Writing program, this website and the textbook. As you see at the top of this page, there are several links that will help you further understand the lessons from the textbook. In the Samples section you will discover dozens of sentences by real authors that illustrate the techniques presented in each chapter of the book. The Exercises link provides worksheets that will allow you to try your hand at writing like those authors.

The Forums link will take you to the discussion board, where you can exchange ideas, ask questions when things aren’t clear, and make suggestions that will benefit future learners. Both students and teachers are welcome to join in the discussion, in the spirit of exploration and collaboration. Your participation here is very important.

The S.O.S. Writing textbook contains nine Chapters and twenty-five Sections, each Section beginning with a brief video lesson followed by text that offers interactive pages, more examples, and review. This approach is perfect for the “flipped” classroom, as well as for any learner traveling the road independently. I am hoping that the textbook will be available at Apple iBooks bookstore early in 2014. Also great news is that, with the newest Apple operating system, Mavericks, it will be viewable on any Apple device.

As mentioned earlier, the S.O.S. Writing program wants to teach you how real writers write, so you will immediately notice that we use real sentences from those real authors to demonstrate each new technique. Think of it as learning a few bars of a Beethoven symphony, or a riff by Jimi Hendrix. By studying how the masters do it, a little piece at a time, you will learn how to do it too. Imitation is not only the sincerest form of flattery; it is also the fastest way to learn something new.

As you make your way through the course, you might come across in your own reading a wonderful sentence or paragraph that demonstrates one of the techniques that we are discussing. It might be from a newspaper or a magazine, or from a novel or an essay, even a travel brochure. It does not matter. Great writing is worth noticing, and we want you to share your discovery with others. So drop it into the Discussion for others to appreciate, and maybe we’ll even add it to the Samples.

So, that’s it. Are you ready? We hope you will have fun, learn a lot, and share your new writing discoveries with the entire S.O.S. Writing community.

Don Stewart

Here are some nice comments people have made:

Comments (10)

  • Looking at this explanation, I realized that you guys have been doing a great work. Thanks.

  • alain ades

    Miss you from my Belmont Hill days! Just ordered the three book set. I truly believe that the CRP taught me how to write, and have been trying to find it for my 13 yr old Sam. I am so pleased that you have modified and maintained this incredible work.

  • Cannot wait.

  • Thank you for your site. I took a class in the early 60s from Dr. Christensen, understood little, but not his fault, and now teach writing to aspiring journalists and public relations students. My previous approach, advocated by E.B. White, or George Orwell in his “Politics and the English Language,” will be scrapped now that I have rediscovered Dr. C’s teachings, now challenging me to change my approach, with your site to greatly aid me and my students as I intend to refer them here often. Thanks for your work.

  • Tom Mathews

    It’s wonderful to see Francis Christensen’s work alive and well and up to date in your book. You clarify and expand beautifully on points that are sometimes difficult to follow of Notes on a New Rhetoric. Please let me know when The Book is ready and where I can buy it.

  • Ramesh G

    Your work will liberate words that are buried in us, I am sure.

  • You have more useful info than the British had colonies pre-WWII.

  • Sherry Saylors

    Don, I’m very interested in the book and would like to incorporate these techniques in a composition class for college Freshmen.

  • Tim Monaghan

    I almost went past your site, thinking the keys were nouns, verbs, pronouns, etc. I’m a writer-in-progress with a few published stories and Yes, Yes, Yes — it’s the phrases/clusters that are the real keys, basic building blocks, the stuff of well-written sentences. At least that’s how I parse out the example sentences I like from Conrad, Fitzgerald, etc

    So bravo, “S.O.S.” team!

  • ddsharper

    Excellent, excellent comment and site! Long time looking to find this. Should be a book and you should be getting paid for this.