Second, let's say that the chief virtue of good writing is clarity. While some kinds of writing prize being strategically elliptical, and others prize brisk and clever metaphor, most of my students aren't writing grant applications, patents, or poems. So metaphor, however brisk or clever, is out of place if it obscures its subject.
Third, this course is a cultural studies type, rather than a workshop. This means that the course has a topic of inquiry about which all of the students read and write for a semester and that, while being reasonably complex, the topic should accommodate students who are going to become accountants, math teachers, and advertisers. It's common for engineering students to wash out into the business school, and there's a significant contingent of humanities students as well. Anything other than a general interest topic (like the 1960s, ideas about the American West, or fairy tales) isn't an option.
So think back to your writing. What has made you more comfortable with your writing, or eager to improve what you've written? What inspires you to read outside of a classroom or mandated context? Was has impressed on you the importance of revision, or at least of reviewing your writing at intervals? Which parts of which college (or high school) curricula have helped you write better? Finally, which aspects of your students' or co-workers' writing do you find most troublesome?"