Up to Snuff #60: Trochee


Up To Snuff #60:  Trochee

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu



“A metrical foot of two syllables of which the first is long, the second short.”


The Consolidated Webster Multi-Pictured Encyclopedia Dictionary



Trochaios  running, run

Akin greek wheel

A metrical foot consisting of one long syllable followed by one short syllable  (as in apple)


Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary

Up to Snuff #59: Rhetoric

Up to Snuff  #59:  Rhetoric

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu



The art of speaking with elegance and force, declamation: oratory; the art of skillful use of language in prose writing.

The Consolidated Webster Multi-Pictured Encyclopedia Dictionary


Rhetorical as in rhetorical problem solving

“Effectively communicating the results of that work.” “Communicating effectively the technical problems that they solved.”

“Rhetoric, however has more general, less negative meaning than its popular connotation suggests, defined most simply it means “effective communication.””

“Effectively communicating the essentials of technical problem solving.”

“Communication refers to activities ranging from writing formal technical reports to running a meeting”

“Effective is something that an audience can understand and deal with significantly.”

“To upper management, peer experts, subordination or the public outside all need to have the results of the technical problem solving explained to them clearly so that they can act upon what they learn in ways appropriate to their positions.”

Technical and Professional Writing by George E. Kennedy and Tracy T. Montgomery


“Art of Oratory, to say, to speak, orator, more at word, the art of speaking or writing effectively, the study of principles and rules of composition formulated by critics of ancient times, the study of writing or speaking as a means of communication or persuasion, skill in the effective use of speech, a type or mode of language or speech”

“Rhetorical question, given to speech, grandiloquent, asked merely for rhetorical effect with no answer expected.”

Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary



Rhetoric Aristotle

Rhetoric A Very Short Introduction

Rhetorical Devices a Handbook and Activities for Student Writers

Rhetorical Devices

Rhetoric Alive Principles of Persuasion

Rhetoric for Writing Program Administrators

Rhetorical Theory Second Edition Borchers


Up to Snuff #52 Writing Basics, Getting Started with a Simple 5 Paragraph Essay

Up to Snuff #52:  Writing Basics, Getting Started with a Simple 5 Paragraph Essay

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu


-Think of your hand and a basic 5 paragraph format that includes:

  1. Introduction
  2. Body paragraph one
  3. Body paragraph two
  4. Body paragraph three
  5. Conclusion


**Always include that skeleton of five paragraphs.  If your paper does not have that much then sometimes it is not even a paper yet because it lacks development.

-Before you start writing mentally note your basic “plan” then thread your document with cadence

What should be in a plan?

Start by summarizing in one statement a clear thesis.  A thesis statement should be your choice of one statement that sums up your whole paper that is your controlling idea.  Your thesis statement is your helm that will guide your whole document.

Then create a short roadmap of what will be included in your document with descriptive language to form your introduction.  You may add things like rhetorical questions to build your document.

Think of linking all your paragraphs with good transitions and progression.  Build your body paragraphs with sophisticated transitions.  Research language you may use for transitions in magazines, books and newspapers.  Avoid using language that is too redundant or simplistic like first, second and third.

When your essay is scored, readers will look for three main areas:

  • Organization
  • Elaboration
  • Conventions

When readers are looking for organization they will look at:

  • Your thesis statement
  • Transitions
  • Introduction and conclusion, and generally your 5 paragraphs
  • Progression
  • Variety

When readers look at your elaboration they are looking for “evidence” that supports your thesis in your body paragraphs that should not be vague or general but specific, factual, and cited.

It is very important to use citations in all of your writing.  It is important to learn how to write a short bibliography, to use in text citations and quotations or to cite the source within your sentence with quotations.

It is important to write in your own words and to read the source material and organize and pull from it without text copying.


When scoring your paper readers will look at the density of errors, the number of errors and the kinds of errors.  They will look to see if you have a partial command of grammar, usage, capitalization, basic sentence structure of subject and verb, no run on’s, no comma splicing, spelling, proper nouns capitalized, first letter of the sentence capitalization, correct contractions, correct tense, correct punctuation, and no grade level errors.



-Put meat on the bones into your essay.  The more you write the more opportunity you have for development and elaboration.  Shorter essays get lower scores.  You have to write a progressive, tight, longer essay to get the highest score.

-Use your domain specific language to help you with spelling.

-Avoid confusion, avoid off topic or tangential writing, be creative, but not too creative. Be precise.

-How to build your vocabulary is by reading a variety of writings including books, newspapers, magazine articles and journals.

-Build your library of writing reference books, see list.

-Make sure you know what goes into a basic sentence and see books like “Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences” by Janis Bell

-Make sure each sentence is strong and warranted as some Professors grade sentence by sentence and look for truth in your writing.

-What is indicative of a higher scored writing is very often “maturity,” length that suggests development, good understanding and organization, good grammar is an easy good grade, good mature transitions, all five paragraphs,  a plan you thread through, nothing missing, no shortcomings, want the highest score and get it


Notes extracted from” Writing in the Disciplines” pg. 31 (Harcourt Brace)

-“Make certain introduction catches readers attention and establishes thesis of your argument”

-“Make certain statistics and other data are derived from respected sources.”

-“Make certain you have not used unfounded emotional appeals.”

-“Make certain your rational appeals are logical and valid.”

-“Make certain your conclusion follows logically from the evidence you have presented.”

-“Make certain you proofread carefully.”















Up to Snuff #50: Winter Reading List 2018 with emphasis on African Writers

Up to Snuff #50:  Winter Reading List 2018 with emphasis on African Writers

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

Put together a box of books, cover your coffee table with books,  light a fire or head to a cottage or good “reading city” and read, read, read and maybe practice piano, throw in a few page turners, some classics and what I call “kb” or knowledge based books, stash articles, research a nice PHD read, check for Nobel Laureates in Literature and don’t forget to take your child to the library once a week to satisfy a young readers consumption, maybe 2 books a night, maybe even take a book run vacation and collect foreign language books to build a linguistics profile, buy or build some book shelves and build your families library, read, read, read.   A good hobby to have is researching books or getting good classes with good book lists or go to a school with a good library or asking colleagues for a book list, read, read, read.


Sommerset Maugham –all books


Nikolai Gogol

D.H. Lawrence

Daphne Du Maurier

Jane Eyre

Nathanial Hawthorne

Alice Walker



Falun Gong

Find some good Latin books

Spanish novels or newspapers or little pamphlets

Try to read/earn a few skills

Read across an area all you can get your hands on or a writers complete collection

Carlos Casteneda

T.S. Elliot

Aga Kahn

Prentice Hall books (Publisher)


James Baldwin

Jose Saramago



E.O. Wilson

Oscar Wilde

Read Recipes

Fareed Zakaria

Pablo Neruda

Octavio Paz

Rosario Castellanos

Paul Ricoeur


Aleksandr Dugin

Jurgen Habermas

Nick Land Alt Right

Bill Gates

Complete Guide to Sewing, Readers Digest 1995

Designing Apparel Through Flat Pattern Fifth Edition, Fairchild Publications

How to Draft Basic Flat Patterns, Fairchild Publications

Ross, B.H., This is Like That:  The Use of Earlier Problems and the Separation of Similarity Effects.  Journal of Experimental Psychology:  Learning, Memory and Cognition

Schank, R.C., Tell Me a Story:  Narrative and Intelligence, Evanston, Ill, Northwestern University Press

Schank, R.C., & Abelson R., Scripts, Plans, Goals and Understanding:  An Inquiry into Human Knowledge Structures, Hillsdale, NJ, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Spiro, R.J., Coulson, R.L., Feltvich, P.J., & Anderson, D.K (1988) Cognitive Flexibility Theory:  Advanced Knowledge Acquisition in Ill Structured Domains, Tech Report No 441, Champaign, Ill:  University of Illinois

Center for the Study of Reading, Sternberg, R. J., & French, P.A. (Eds.) (1991) Complex Problem Solving:  Principles and Mechanisms, Hillsdale, NJ, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Voss, J.F & Post, T. A. (1988), On solving of Ill Structured Problems, IN M. T.. H Chi, R, Glaser, & M.J. Farr (Eds.), The Nature of Expertise (PP. 261-185), Hillsdale, NJ:  Lawrence Erlbaum Associates


The Complete Greek Tragedies

MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing

Writing Your Dissertation In Fifteen Minutes a Day:  A Guide to Starting, revising and finishing your doctoral thesis/Joan Bolker

Sicily by Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi

The Italian Baker by Melissa Forti and Danny Bernardini

Mozza at Home by Nancy Silverton and Carolyn CArreno

Henry and June

Tropic of Cancer

Cities of The Interior, Anais Nin


The Rhinoceros  by, Ionesco

A good almanac

Collect Maps and study them



Some African Writers

Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

Peter Abrahams, Mine boy, This Island Now, A Wreath for Udomo ( South Africa)

Chinua Achebe (Nigeria)

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Jose Eduardo Agualusa

Mohamed Naseehu Ali (Ghana)

Germano Almeida

Elechi Amadi

Ayi Kwei Armah (Ghana)

Sefi Atta

Ayesha Harruna Attah

Mariama BA

Nadifa Mohamed

Chris Barnard

Mongo Beti

Andre Brink

J.M Coetzee

Mia Couto

Tsitsi Dangarembga

Mohammed Dib

E.K.M. dido

Assia Djebar

  1. Sello Duiker

Daphne Williams

Buchi Emecheta

Daniel Olorunfemi Fagunwa

Nuruddin Farah

Athol Fugard

Nadine Gordimer

Alex La Guma

Bessie Head

Moses Isegawa

Rayda Jacobs

Tahar Ben Jellouon

Cheikh Hamidou Kane

Yasmina Khadra

Camara Laye

Naguib Mahfouz

Charles Mangua

Sarah Ladipo Manyika

Dambudzo  Marechera

Darlene mattee

Zakes Mda

Thomas Mofolo

Bai Tamia Moore

Meja Mwangi

Ngugi wa Thiong’o

Lewis Nkosi

Flora Nwapa

Nnedi Okorafor

Ben Okri

Deon Opperman

Yambo Ouologuem

Alan Paton


Sol Plaatje

Nawal El Saadawi

Tayeb Salih

Wilton Sankawulo

Karel Schoeman

Olive Schreiner

Benjamin Sehene

Ousmane Sembene

Wole, Soyinka

Amos Tutuola

Marlene van Niekirk

Yvonnne Vera

Jose Luandino Vieira

Joseph Jeffrey Walters

Birhanu Zerihun

Ama Ata Aidoo

Georges Andriamanantena

Jared Angira

Kofi Anyidoho

Kofi Awooner

Sahesillasse Birhanemariam

Breyten Breytenbach

Dennis Brutus

Glynn Burridge

Abena Busia

John Pepper Clark

Jose Craveirinha

Viriato Clemenete da Cruz

Getinet Eniyew

Tsegaye Gebremedhin

Abbe Gubenga


Ingrid Jonker

Jonathan Kariara

Joseph Kariuki

Susan Kiguli

Ahmadou Kourouma

Antjie Krog

Jack Mapanje

Eugene Mapanje

Eugene Marais

Don Mattera

Bai Tamia Moore

Togara Muzanenhamo

  1. Moses Nagbe

Arthur Nortje

Gabriel Okara

Nii Parkes

Chrisotpher Okigbo

Okot P’Bitek

Lenrie Peters

Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo

Jacques Rabemananjara

Elie Rajaonarison

Ny Avana Ramanantoanina

Pierre Randrianarisoa

Jean Verdi Saloman Razakandraina

David Rubadiri

Tijan Sallah

Leopold Sedar Senghor

Debede Seyfu

Bewketu Seyoum

Warsan Shire

Adam Small

Veronique Tadjo

Dagnachew WERku

Armenio Vieira

Patricia Jabbeh Wesley



Credit:  Wikipedia African Writers List (see for more detailed list)




Up to Snuff #48 A Life with Writing or Key Writing Areas or Genres

Up to Snuff #48 A Life with Writing or Key Writing Areas or Genres

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu


Non Fiction

Novel Writer


Crime Fiction


Mystery Writer

Creative Non Fiction

Creative Writing

How to

Memoir or Family or Personal History Writer


Short Story




Grant Writing

Business Plans

Copy Writer

Ghost Writer



Magazine Writer

Niche or Specialty Writer

Research Writer

Social Scientist Research Writer

Science Writing

Divine Writing

International Affairs

Technical Writing

Business Writing

Professional Writing

Non Profit Writing

Song Writing

Government and Leadership Writing

Speech Writer


Financial Writing

APA Formatted writing and Research Proposals

Variety of Template Styles Writer

Art Writing

Communications Writing

Press Releases

Public Relations Writing

Promotional Writing

Field Studies


Film Screen Plays


Theatrical Writings

Prosperous Zero’s or Performance Art based writing, Living Arts Writer

Medical Writing

Medical Profiles:  Psycho Social and Psychological Writing

Architectural or Realty Profiles

Culinary Writers or Food Writers

Sports Writers

Arts and Entertainment Writers



News Writers

Features Writers

Sunday Quin Writers

Obituary Writers

Classified Writers

Job Postings, Titles and Human Resource Writing

Weather Forecasters

Technology Writers

Text Book Writers

Elementary Education Writer

High School Writer

ESL Writer

Language Writers

Historical Writer

Radio Show Writer

Script or Lines Writer/Producer

Packaging and Label Writer

Program Writer

Web Writer

Software Engineer

Bills, Treaties, Public Policy and Manuals Writer

Love Letter Writer

Romance Writer

Self Help Writer

Professional Journal Writer

Article Writer

Business Proposal Writer

Teaching Materials Writer

Brochure and Catalog Writer

Music Writer or Composer

Academic Writer

Writing Student

Professional Book Editor, Indexer, or Cover Designer

Cultural Writer

Genre Subculture

Digital Publishing


Analytical Research

Resume Writing

Computer Aided Publishing

Multimedia Writing

Popular Culture

Idea Development

Philosophical Writing


Story Teller

Fable Writer


Fairy Tales


Personal Essayist

Fact Based Writing or Justified True Belief




Science Fiction



Persuasive Writing


Food Critic

Art Critic

Descriptive Writer

Historical Fiction



Problem Solving

Critical Thinking


Expository Writing




Comic Book

Health and Human Sciences




Literary Journalism

Digital Longform

Book Seminar

Arts and Culture

Social Networking

Theater Critics Association

Historical Society

Foreign Policy

Data Journalism


International Journalism

Documentary Journalism

Investigative Journalism

Multimedia Journalism

Business Journalism

Audio Journalism

Arts Journalism

Photo Journalsim

Science Journalism




Up to Snuff #47: Nice Ways to Prepare to Write a Book

Up to Snuff #47:  Nice Ways to Prepare to Write a Book

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

  • PHD Research and Dissertation and becoming authority on a subject
  • Engage in Academic Research
  • Engage in Independent Research
  • Build a Database
  • Design a software for your book or books, study software development
  • Design a set and build from set, plot and theme, with questions
  • Journal
  • Collect or compile: poems, articles or recipes or emails or build anthology of many writers
  • Start with an APA Format Research Proposal, build a bibliography, then research , then write book
  • Blow up a dot
  • Investigative methods, even international or at libraries or with surveys or online or in databases like a legal database for example, or in newspaper archives, or in historical records, or by asking questions and attending events, keeping notes  or with tape recorders
  • By going to school in general and accessing good libraries and papers including dissertations
  • By working or gaining expertise in an area via some particular access to knowledge
  • Use of technology and programs to aid in generation of information like for humor
  • Kinds of scripting or plays or performative writings built from readings, staging, or movement
  • Design a book of images such as from photography or art in an art catalogue or musical compositions or get culinary degree and create specialized cook books
  • Documentary photo and journalistic stories
  • Create historical documentation archive of one’s job, city, family, state, organizations, save clippings over time
  • Teach something or heal something
  • Field Studies
  • Use filing systems to build books (some have built from note cards)
  • Record a book



Up to Snuff: Back Cover

“Up to Snuff” was something said to Ms. Osei-Bonsu by a newspaper in Chicago as a rookie getting into journalism young.  What “Up to Snuff” came to be for her later was the design of a “ladder” in writing, to climb up and grow as a writer by teaching herself and to use that research to be a wise guide for other writers.  “The writing education I longed for did not exist yet,” so Ms. Osei-Bonsu became one of the pioneers of it.  The challenge was how do you really thoroughly teach a writer to be “wielding” and instill a deep talent for the field?  Up to Snuff came to be a column on the www.revolvingstream.com  blog/database that is planned for publication as a print edition text book for use in schools around the world.  The ultimate goal for the “Up to Snuff” column and book is to found “The Snuff School of Writing,” based on the research from the book.

Things discovered while compiling “Up to Snuff,” were that a writer needs lots of book lists; a writer needs to be well read and should develop a private library.  A writer needs “templates” for many different kinds of writing. A writer needs a good desk top reference book list.  A writer needs to study syntax.  A writer needs to know about conventionality in writing.  A writer needs to test their range.  A writer needs to use precise words.  A writer needs wisdom.  A writer, especially a writing teacher, should study in a variety of programs and even engage in interdisciplinary studies for a broader knowledge base from which to write. With Social Science or research based writing or “data rich” writing or academic writing are all very good ways of achieving sophisticated work.  Creative writing may benefit from tested techniques such as taking a sampling or writing non-stop.  A writer can plan as a basis for later books, crafting dynamic PHD’s or dissertation research or advanced studies to become an authority on a subject area.

Ms. Osei-Bonsu is studying in two interdisciplinary programs at Eastern Michigan University and at the Vermont Military School, Norwich University.   She studied design at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art And Design in London.  Ms. Osei-Bonsu has written for three newspapers including Afrique Newsmagazine where she was an arts columnist.  She received an Irene Little Wallace Award from the Dept. of English Literature at EMU.  She got started in writing with an informal audit of a personal essay class at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York where she was formerly on staff.   Ms. Osei-Bonsu is the author of two books of poetry including, “Magic 8 and the Bone Marrow Sucker,” and “The Pearl Reader,” which are available on http://www.trafford.com and http://www.amazon.com.



Up to Snuff #46: Writers Voice, Subculturalization and the Allure of Academic Writing

Up to Snuff #46:  Writers Voice, Subculturalization and the Allure of Academic Writing

By Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

A writer’s “voice” may be indicated by several key components.  A writer’s voice may be impacted by first or third person, by the tense they choose, the strength of research that informs their content, positive/negative voice, wise voice or polished and clean voice.  Writing may in fact be a practice of wisdom-in order to be wise and needing of wisdom.

It may be noted one’s attention to grammar and language, whether big words or precise words are chosen.  How deep, how engaged or how lean may impact a writer’s voice as well as how practiced. How much value, how much service and how relevant will also impact a writers voice. How sweetened or how beautified can impact one’s voice in writing.  Perhaps a female voice or an older or younger voice or cultural or dialect voice may be chosen.

What also impacts the reader of one’s voice are the chosen template for one’s work, whether or not it is a threaded work-“prayer bead style,” or from a specific template that uses for example a thesis statement then supporting sentences or evidence or a specific frame work.  It impacts a writers voice how they build their content and what mechanics they employ.  A writer may expand their voice by testing their range on a variety of writing projects.

A writer’s voice is also impacted by their specific experience while working in the field of writing especially those who have worked as journalists or written for newspapers where writing in first and third person is often forbidden.  A writer with a journalism background may utilize a “truth based” or fact orientation and disregard personal opinion, unless they are an opinion writer.

A writer may use modern approaches to design their voice using eg. “development sessions”-where a writer uses writing itself for development to gather knowledge via the building of writings.

One’s writing voice has often to do with their speaking as well, how well- spoken they are.  A writer can enrich their writing by engaging in research based writing that is data rich.  Another interesting angle to take as a writer that impacts their voice is academic writing which carries bars and conventionality.  Academic writing is usually done while connected to academia either as a student or an employee or a researcher.  One often needs access to academic papers and libraries for research and in some cases briefs or specific assignments or groups of researchers. In journalism one is often feeding off current events, connecting research and using investigative methods.

An interesting voice to develop as a writer may be when one chooses a subculture.  For example one may write about horror or mystery within a writing group that is tuned into perhaps a “gothic” subculturalization or the culturalization of a writing genre.  In a gothic or horror subculture one may use gloves or eyeliner or hair dyes or black attire to fashion ones group for example.  One may choose also to inform their voice via a subculture like “naturalist,” or a subculture like “Victorian,” or even a specific “tribe” of their choosing. Culturalization may be done with attire, graphics or specific music of an era or instruments.  It may be wonderful to enjoy these subcultures as groups, even seasonal groups or annual groups or groups that meet in specific countries or universities, or good old local writing groups.  It may be challenging to fashion and outfit one’s group or create an aesthetic, even an aesthetic to one’s dissemination.

A writer may utilize film techniques like “thumbnails” or story boards to achieve clarity in their writing and improve their voice.  Pictures fall easily from words.   It is easy to illustrate a written book.  What do words fall from?  Writing seems to be built and threaded using templates.  For example, a fiction writer may want a beginning, middle and end.  What seems to be really chief in writing is how clarity or the power of understandability-to be really, really understood- and use of template impact one’s voice.

Sometimes before one begins a practice of writing they may undergo a period of clarifying their own brain and even maturing themselves.  It is as if without a heavily engaged writing practice one’s brain may not have order from its thoughts and dialog which impacts ones initial and later voice.

Some writers are the composite of all the places they have travelled or lived and employ accents within their writing voice or voices.  You can hear the actual voice and sensitivity of a writer when you read their work and it becomes the soul of the writing.  Writers utilize technology running programs over writings or designing graphically writing eg. bucktooth letters, to emotionalize their writing, which impacts how it is heard.

A writer’s voice may not be pioneering enough and may stick to status quo or may not have enough sensitivity within the public media.  A writer’s voice may be delicate or strong or wielding or even aggressive or overly assertive.  A writer may be supremely aware of their power as a writer to inform, influence, suggest and perhaps foster change, sometimes large scale.  A writer may have a historical perspective within their writings.  Many designs and choices impact the voice of a writer.  Many professions, travels, doings and practice develop a writer’s voice.




Up to Snuff #29: Notes for Writing

Up to Snuff #29: Notes for Writing

Notes for Writing Classes:


Language Studies


Negative Reversal to Positive

Quepine (QPN) Question, Proverb, News

Development Sessions

Art History

Eg. Writing about art that is mixed with art making notes, art theory and analysis

Maintain teaching notes


Historical value

History to words


Rigorous Development




The makers of noble gentlemen and ladies