Summer 2022


Welcome Students!  

Welcome to English 1121. This is an asynchronous on-line class that has no in-person meetings. I will, however, hold weekly office hours on Zoom (Tuesdays 4-5 pm) if you wish to speak with me about the course (attendance is optional).

We begin on Wednesday (July 6).

I can be reached at:

Professor Mark Noonan


Here are your duties for the first week:

  1. Watch my welcome video.

2.  Sign up for your OpenLab account with your name and a profile photo.  Log in, then join our course.  If you need  help,  contact the OpenLab Community Team

3. Look around our course site to familiarize yourself

4. By Monday, July 11, please post your self-introduction.

Here are directions for writing and posting your self-introduction:

To write a new post, click the + sign at the top of the page. (It’s a small icon next to the class title and message box icon at the very top of the page). Fill in the subject heading with your name, then add your info and photo below.  After your work is complete, scroll down and check off OUR COMMUNITY under Categories (right side of page), then click Publish.

  • Paragraph 1: Include how you would like to be addressed, your pronouns, and any other info you’d like to share. This could include where you are from, where you reside now, your academic interests or major, any hobbies or NYC activities you enjoy, how you feel about writing. Feel free to be creative!
  • Paragraph 2:  Include a photo of something (place, space, person, pet, object, etc. ) meaningful to you, and tell us about it.  You can paste the photo into the body of your message, or Add Media  to upload it to your post.
  • Be sure to also check back to read your classmates’ responses and reply to a few. Getting to know each other, we start building our community.

5. Read William Zinsser   On Writing Well (Part One: Pages 3-46)

Post a comment on a section you found useful and/or interesting (by Monday, July 11). Try not to repeat what another student has posted.

To post a comment, go to top of site right below “Welcome Students”, click on “comments,” type your comment in box, and “post.”

Welcome Aboard! 


  1. Lira Dauti

    While reading the chapters on Simplicity and Clutter (especially Clutter) “On Writing Well” I found myself feeling almost personally attacked, and I started asking myself why that was and why I was interested and intrigued but almost mad at what I was reading. I think it’s because I haven’t really worked on decluttering my work and I felt called out. Most of my life I have read and written in a language that is not English, in which elaborate long sentences with many synonyms that each hold their own importance were my ultimate goals. Switching to English, I was then asked for short sentences, clearly defined paragraphs, less frivolous words, so I am still trying to get used to this new way of looking at things. It is difficult for me to do so, although I like the simplicity and directness of certain authors, I still find myself liking getting lost in longer sentences, full of adjectives and synonyms. I guess I should start rewriting things more, putting words in brackets (this sounds like a great tip), and not get lost in the flow and end up spending more time looking up words and synonyms than actually writing them down.

    Lira Dauti

    • Mark Noonan

      Excellent reply Lira. I agree that the central point of Zinsser is to achieve simplicity and directness in writing. It’s also worth keeping in mind that this is his view on writing and that long, elegant sentences too have their place in writing — so long as they too are carefully woven and selected.

  2. Kehinde Bello

    William begins by discussing some qualities of simplicity. He demonstrates how individuals might have sloppy thoughts and write phrases that don’t come out the way they intended. He underlines that writing is a difficult activity that requires time and attention. William goes on to remark that when writing, it’s all too easy to become sidetracked. He informs us that we must all devote our complete concentration to writing while keeping the reader in mind. When he talks about how much clutter we use in language nowadays, he gets it perfectly. His examples demonstrate how we strive to make something more attractive than it is, or, as he puts it, how we try to conceal something. When it comes to clutter, we could all learn a thing or two from him. William makes a great parallel between writing and carpentry. We must first construct something before adding the finer elements.

    • Mark Noonan

      Exellent discussion Kehinde. I particularly like your pick-up of Zinsser’s useful carpentry analysis and his point “that writing is a difficult activity that requires time and attention.” It is indeed a “type” of work.

  3. Kofil Uddin

    When I was reading the section called “The Transaction”, I found the part where the two people were talking about their vocation to be very interesting as writing is a subject that everyone has mixed feelings over. I enjoyed how they went back and forth with their opposite answers to the various questions. It shows how everyone has different methods to do their own, unique form of writing as it doesn’t have to always follow a strict code. People have their own ways of being creative and creating their own stories and I believe that to be true.

    • Mark Noonan

      Great point Kofil. It’s true we all need to develop a style that works best for us and the type(s) of writing we pursue. “One size does not fit all.” At the same time, no matter one’s style, achieving clarity and persuasive is always the writer’s aim — as your post demonstrates.

  4. Tamjeeda Uddin

    After reading part one of the On Writing Well, the section that stood out to me the most was section 2 called Simplicity. William Zinsser talks about how clutter makes sentences weak. Clutter includes unnecessary words, and he explains that getting rid of words that serve no function makes your writing better. I related this to my own personal experience in writing, because whenever I have papers to write for class, I always try to add more words thinking it makes the writing sound more informative, but in reality without all those words you can still write a good paper . I also agreed with the end of that section where he explained that writing is hard. There’s a lot of people that may say writing is simple and anyone can do it. However, good writing is hard and takes time and effort.

    • Zulma A Ordonez (Cruz)

      I completely agree since I also tend to add extra words to sound more “professional” but now I would like to apply his advice and simplify as much as I can.

    • Mark Noonan


      Agreed: good writing takes “time and effort.” Your pick-up that everything we put on paper (or a screen) should serve a purpose (or should be removed) is also spot on.

  5. Dabin Tang

    While I was reading a section called “the Audience”, I remembered what my high school teacher had said about “writing for other people,” which implies taking the perspectives of my readers and trying to understand and appease their preferences. The author of On Writing Well, however, presents a different perspective: the writer should write for himself. To put it another way, the writer makes it essentially to please himself, and if he does it with pleasure, the readers who are worth writing for will be entertained. It is useless to be concerned with the reader’s likes or dislikes because we cannot force people to relate to our sense of humor or our outlook on life. The writer’s craft is really important. There is no reason for losing readers due to shoddy work regarding craft.

    • Mark Noonan

      You make an astute pick-up here Dabin. Great writers really do first and foremost write for themselves and really sink in to the process. It will be interesting to hear your thoughts on this week’s writers, who follow this creed: Olivarez, Orwell, and especially Didion (I highly recommend you watch the documentary of her life and career if you can).

  6. Jose Bocio

    In the part one of the reading, I found “The Audience” interesting. According to the author, when you write for the public, you have to “work hard to master the tools.” The tools to which the author refers are those mentioned above, a very important one of this simplicity. This can make it more direct and easier for the audience to understand what you’re trying to say word for word. When writing to him it is of the utmost importance that you have the confidence that he is writing it for you. Why? I agree with the author of “On Writing Well” that one should focus on writing for oneself, because trying to write for an audience that doesn’t have a defined taste is stressful and can even harm what you’re really trying to do.

    • Mark Noonan

      Excellent point Jose. Write for yourself first and let the reader come to your enthusiasms and interests. And yes it’s also useful to learn the various “tools” of the trade different writers use.

  7. Vasyl

    After reading On Writing Well by William Zinsser, the sixth section “Words” was most useful to me. Each passage revealed different practices that can be used to form refined writing. Normally I’d find myself generalizing the definitions of words and not being unique when I structure sentences. After reading the last section, I concur with Willaim Zinsser, that everyone should sound unique. This can only be achieved with better knowledge and diversity in our vocabulary. Every scenario is different, so no two scenarios should be written the same. It was a helpful and interesting section because it inspired to use a thesaurus more to achieve a more accurate depiction of what I’d like to convey.

    • Mark Noonan

      Excellent point on the importance of word choice and a strong vocabulary, Vasyl. This point is often not discussed enough. It would be interesting to hear what you have to say on the vocabulary use of this week’s writers. Note also that I offer a college vocabulary list at the top of our site, for students to review.

  8. Thandeka Morgan

    While reading William Zinsser’s “On Writing Well,” I found section five, The Audience, to be the most interesting. This is because I was conditioned to believe that a paper should be tailored to its intended audience. However, Zinsser advised that one must write for one’s self and to not worry about whether or not a reader will want to continue reading. He believed that every reader is a different person with their own tastes and chances are they’re already searching for new material to indulge in. By keeping this perspective in mind, a writer is able to maintain their identity while exercising their craft. If an author is able to enjoy writing their works, then they will be able to entertain the audience it was truly intended for.

    • Mark Noonan

      You make an essential point here Thandeka on maintaining the individuality of the writer’s style. Your own sentences are well-crafted and expressive, especially this one:

      By keeping this perspective in mind, a writer is able to maintain their identity while exercising their craft.

  9. Monique Farquharson

    I found the section simplicity useful because the author showed us how he Identifies which words are unnecessary and gets rid of them, and I can start to do this in my own writing. In the clutter section he also pointed out common mistakes like a sentence being the same as the sentence before. He gave examples of being able to take out words and the sentence still being clear. I agree when he said that teachers giving students a word count causes them to write with clutter. The students are mostly focused on meeting the word count instead of explaining themselves clearly.

    • Mark Noonan

      Excellent point Monique on the value of straightforward writing and simplicity in language.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2023 ENG1121-OL12

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑