Category Archives: Guest Post

Students’ advice to students: Buch Method Revision

by Nigel Graham

This is a special guest blog from a student in the Fall 2015 Revising and Editing (WRIT 152) class. His assignment was to write advice for other students about a specific writing or revision strategy.

While there are many revision strategies to choose from, I have found one in particular that works well for me. This is the Buch Method Revision strategy. This method has worked so well for me because it has helped me develop the content and details of my writing. These are areas that I have previously struggled in. I have found that using the Buch Method Revision (BMR) strategy has helped me to improve my writing. This strategy helps add depth, which makes my writing a lot more persuasive and clear. I think using this strategy can greatly improve your writing as well.

BMR starts by focusing on a certain paragraph. From there you will add a new sentence after each sentence in the paragraph (starting after sentence #2). The new sentence should expand on the previous one. Then, you repeat this process for each sentence until you have a paragraph that is much more detailed than the original one. Lastly, look at the paragraph as a whole to see and remove any sentences that are redundant. Not only will the paragraph be more complete in terms of factual content, but it’s likely you’ll find ways to add needed analysis.

I have used this particular method in writing my grant proposal in Revising and Editing. This was an important strategy to use for the proposal because the assignment required my writing to have lots of detail and be very clear for the reader. BMR helped me make my sentences say what I wanted them to while making clear to the reader what the message was. I have also used BMR in non-persuasive pieces. When reading the final version after BMR had been applied to my proposal, I found that my writing had a much nicer flow and was also more interesting to read since the details made the paper easier to understand. I recommend that if you use BMR, you should also do a peer review session. By doing a peer review session, my partner and I were able to pick out and remove the weaker, redundant sentences.

Nigel Graham is a senior majoring in business administration and minoring in sustainability and management information systems. His grant proposal focused on his great passion of waterskiing.

Students’ advice for students: Issue trees

by Stuart McFall

This is a special guest blog from a student in the Fall 2015 Revising and Editing (WRIT 152) class. His assignment was to write advice for other students about a specific writing or revision strategy.

I think that when it comes to revising and editing, a writer should have a strategy that works well for them to structure and develop their ideas. I think it is important to have a well-organized piece of writing so that the content is more easily understood. A great strategy that writers can use is called an issue tree. Issue trees make it easy for a writer to expand on their ideas, revise their content, and organize their work into a well-structured piece of writing. It is important for a writer to have a well-structured piece because it makes the reader’s job a lot easier. It also helps a writer expand on the main idea to write a fully developed piece of writing.

Making an issue tree is very simple. Take out a sheet of paper and a pencil. (You’ll need a pencil with an eraser to make any changes to your issue tree.) Draw a small circle at the top of your paper large enough to fit the topic of your paper in it. Write your topic, or your thesis if you have one, in that circle. Now draw more circles below your topic for each of your main points. Once you have done this, expand on each topic by drawing more circles underneath each main idea-circle. Fill this third tier of circles with specific statements, ideas, or questions you have for each main point. Continue to expand each idea and sub-idea into more circles until all your topics are expanded to your satisfaction. Finally, organize your tree into a structure that makes sense for the topic of your paper. If this means you need to take out parts or move parts around, do so.

I have used this strategy before in an assignment for Fiction Writing class. We had to write a personal story from someone else’s perspective. I built my issue tree, organized it, and then wrote my paper from that issue tree. It helped me organize the plot of the story really well so that it was easy for the reader to follow. It also helped me expand each of my main plot points for the story. I felt the issue tree really helped me write something great, and that’s why I use this strategy for a lot of my papers. I hope you try this out with your own writing and see how well it works for you.


Stuart McFall is a junior majoring in business administration and minoring in economics.

Writing for the Christian Science periodicals

by Jeff Ward-Bailey

Writing a testimony or an article for the Christian Science Sentinel or Journal can be a lot of fun — because you’re sharing a healing that really made a difference in your life, or a spiritual concept that has spoken to you deeply. But it can also be challenging to feel like you’re describing your inspiration accurately, and in a way that will be easily understood by other readers.

I’ve been working as a staff editor at the Sentinel for a little over four years, working with authors — everyone from long-time Christian Science teachers to new Christian Scientists writing their first articles — to publish in print and on the web. I do a lot of work with teen authors, as well, and as you might imagine I sometimes get submissions from Principians sharing their experiences! I’ve found there are a few elements that really make articles and testimonies sing. So if you’re struggling to write about a healing, you might find these points helpful:

  • It’s okay to sound like you! It’s easy to assume that “writing spiritually” means “writing in the style of Mary Baker Eddy” — using flowery language, liberally sprinkling phrases like “malicious animal magnetism,” and employing words like “illume” and “infinitude.” There’s nothing wrong with these conventions per se, but a testimony or article is often much clearer if it’s written in a more straightforward style. Think of the way you’d describe a healing to a friend who isn’t familiar with Christian Science. You probably wouldn’t drop a buzzword like “chemicalization” without explaining what it means, right? Simplifying your writing — and not feeling the need to conform to 1880s-era literary conventions — often makes for a stronger piece.
  • There’s no quota on quotes. Sometimes people assume that there need to be a certain number of quotes from the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures in their piece. By all means, if a certain passage jumped off the page at you, you should talk about it in your article! But you should never feel pressured to shoehorn a quote in to your piece if it really doesn’t apply.
  • Try to strike a balance. Many successful articles and testimonies include both a narrative (a healing or experience) and solid metaphysics. If your piece has both these elements, think about using the narrative as a framework and weaving the spiritual details in — in other words, maybe you could talk a little bit about a healing or experience you had, then use the spiritual lesson you learned from that experience as a jumping-off point to make a broader metaphysical argument. Feel free to include whatever details you want to communicate with the audience!
  • Don’t sweat it! All the editors at the magazines are happy to hear from contributors. You shouldn’t feel nervous about sending in a piece, even if you don’t feel that it’s perfectly written. The editors are happy to work with authors one-on-one to get a piece sounding just right. And you wouldn’t believe how many strong pieces I’ve received from people who really didn’t think of themselves as writers!

The wonderful thing about Sentinel and Journal articles is that they’re all written because the author had an amazing experience or insight and wanted to communicate it with others. If you let that desire to share be your guide as you’re writing, you can’t go wrong.

This guest post is from Jeff Ward-Bailey, who was a Principia College writing tutor before he became a staff editor at the Christian Science Sentinel about four years ago.

Remember who’s the author!

by Heather Libbe

Every single experience we have, be it academic or otherwise, provides opportunities to learn more about the allness of God and our oneness with Mind. Remembering who is the author is the best writing “advice” I can give!

During spring quarter of my junior year at Principia College, I learned a very valuable lesson that has stuck with me ever since. I found myself very overwhelmed by a personal situation with a friend off-campus, and this caused me to quickly fall very behind in my work. I felt like I was just digging myself deeper and deeper into a hole looking at all my assignments piling up. One afternoon I couldn’t even get myself out of bed. As I was sobbing to myself and hit a point where all I could think was “I can’t do this,” I heard an angel message that I will never forget: “You know, Heather, you’re right—you can’t do this.”

I’ve found that idea to go really well with this Bible passage: “I can of mine own self do nothing” (John 5:30). At the time, I was trying to do it all on my own, which, of course, seemed overwhelming. So I was very grateful to be woken up to the fact that I was not doing the doing. God was!

Needless to say, I was humbled.

Four years later, I was in a similar situation with a graduate school paper that needed to be written. I just couldn’t seem to make any progress with it. I had read the entire book that I needed to in order to complete the assignment but felt as though I didn’t even know where to begin. I was overwhelmed by the topic, length, deadline, and so on.

I explained all this to a friend who asked how things were going as we randomly ran into each other in a Boston crosswalk that afternoon. He shared an idea from Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy that I’ve held to ever since: “Mortals are egotists. They believe themselves to be independent workers, personal authors, and even privileged originators of something which Deity would not or could not create. The creations of mortal mind are material. Immortal spiritual man alone represents the truth of creation” (262). Those four statements really woke me up to rediscover that divine Mind was completing the assignment and I was just there to reflect. As I prayed with that idea and sought to be Mind’s scribe as opposed to thinking of myself as a creator, the heaviness of the assignment just lifted and I completed it with joy. I think I even got a high mark on it, too.

Now, whenever I need to write something, be it in correspondence, an article for the Christian Science periodicals, or a piece for an organization, I continuously remind myself—before, during and after—who is really the Author. As the image and likeness of Mind, I am at one with the source of all creativity and intelligence.

Moreover, how wonderful it is to know that

  • Perfect grammar reflects Principle
  • Creative new ideas reflect Mind
  • A well-thought-out format reflects Soul
  • Different punctuation marks reflect Spirit
  • Diversity of word choice reflects Life
  • Proper citing reflects Truth
  • Editing an assignment before handing it in reflects Love

Starting and ending with prayer, with some prayer in between, has helped me over the past few years complete assignments with ease. Writing has also become even more enjoyable because it is exciting to see how the final product reflects all those beautiful spiritual qualities such as order, intelligence, logic, right reasoning, knowledge, and flow.

Happy reflecting, everyone!

This guest post is from Heather K. Libbe, CS, who was a writing tutor before graduating from Principia College in 2011. She is a Christian Science practitioner who is currently in Australia.