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Gentle Writing Advice… Academic Writing Do’s
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Use ACTIVE VOICE Do:
CDo: Use Active Voice subject verb subject verb Active voice = the subject does the action: The cat shredded the toilet paper. The students planned the ceremony. Tonya cooked dinner.
CDo: Use Active Voice Passive voice = the subject receives action: The toilet paper was shredded by the cat. The ceremony was planned by the students . Dinner was cooked by Tonya.
Appeal to the audience Do:
CDo: Appeal to the audience Comedians make everyday topics appealing to an audience. Anticipate the reader’s reactions to each section of your essay.
Proofread your work Do:
CDo: Proofread for errors Errors hurt communication of ideas.
Run spell-check to catch typographical errors. Poor grammar will hurt your grade in most classes. CDo: Proofread for errors
C Do: Write Concise Sentences
CDo: Write concise sentences Use fewer prepositions (to, of, in, from, for) to of in from for
CDo: Write concise sentences Use fewer be-verbs (is, are, was, were) is are was were
CDo: Write concise sentences No? The type of student in ENG 112 class is one who writes essays that are formal and academic. Yes? An ENG 112 student writes formal, academic essays.
C Do: Vary Sentence Length
C Do: Vary your sentence length Use short sentences to emphasize important ideas. Long long long long long long long long long long long long long; long, long long long long. Short short short short. Long long long long long long long long long long long long. Give your audience occasional breaks from long sentences.
C Do: Follow Assignment Guidelines
CDo: Follow all assignment guidelines Instructors expect students to follow all assignment guidelines. I think I’ll just make up my own assignment! Bad idea!!
C Do: Use concrete, vivid descriptions
CDo: Use concrete, vivid descriptions The pigsty example…
CDo: Use concrete, vivid descriptions Imagine someone saying, “Wow, your place is a real pigsty!”
CDo: Use concrete, vivid descriptions Pigsty? What does that mean?
CDo: Use concrete, vivid descriptions People have different concepts of what a “pigsty” is.
CDo: Use concrete, vivid descriptions When writing, merely saying, “The room was a pigsty” is not enough to convince your audience that you do indeed have a true pigsty on your hands.
CDo: Use concrete, vivid descriptions Pigsty = the room had not been vacuumed or dusted in a week. Pigsty = 3 rumpled outfits on the bed and a spilled make-up bag on the dresser FACT: Not all pigsties are created equal.
Pigsty = Ten years of brittle, yellowed papers were piled on the floor. Pizza boxes created makeshift tables for stacks of moldy fried chicken bones. The furniture dancing with insects, and each drawer had a beard of dust. CDo: Use concrete, vivid descriptions
Academic Writing Don’ts Gentle Writing Advice…
D Do not: Use cliches
DDo not: Use cliches “Beating around the bush”
DDo not: Use cliches “Everything happens for a reason”
DDo not: Use cliches “Dead as a doornail”
DDo not: Use cliches Don’t judge a book by its cover Last but not least What goes around comes around Sick as a dog Sweet as honey Old as the hills (Many cliches exist… these are just examples)
D Do not: Make announcements to the reader
DDo not: Make announcements “In this essay I will…”
D Do not: Address the reader as “YOU”
D Do not: Use “you” Q: What’s wrong with “YOU”? A: It does not apply to everyone, and therefore writers exclude many of their readers.
D Do not: Use “you” Who, ME? When you put on your fluffy wings, you feel at peace. The snowflakes hitting your body make you feel pretty and sparkly.
D Do not: Use “you” Who, ME? Seeing a sign like this makes you wonder why people would dislike you just because you are a shaven head child pick pocket. Perhaps you should wear a disguise so you don’t look like the picture on the sign.
D Do not: Use “you” Who, ME? When you pose for a family portrait in Winnie the Pooh costumes, you may be surprised at the reactions people have to your photo….
YOU D Do not: Use “you”
D Do not: Use “There are”/ “There is”
DDo not: Use Weak Fillers Weak Fillers= There are There were There is There was This is This was It is It was
No? There are many different classes offered at TCC. Yes? TCC offers many different classes. DDo not: Use Weak Fillers
No? It is necessary for employees to lock their desks. Yes? Employees must lock their desks. DDo not: Use Weak Fillers It is
D Do not: Say “I think” or “I feel” or “in my opinion”
DDo Not: Say “I think” or “I feel” or “in my opinion” If your name is on the paper, your reader knows that any opinions expressed in it are yours.
DDo Not: Say “I think” or “I feel” or “in my opinion” No need to say? I think iguanas make great pets. Just say? Iguanas make great pets.
D Do not: Use 5th grade words
DDo not: Use 5th grade words AVOID the word: thing(s) (use a noun/say what you mean)
Thing / Things Many things in the room look dirty. I studied the wrong thing for the test. We learned many things in class. items information for the facts new ideas
AVOID the words: get /got (received, arrived, became) DDo not: Use 5th grade words
Get / Got John got many gifts for Christmas. The ambulance got here quickly. When I get back, we should talk. Sophia got her shoes online. received many arrived return, bought
AVOID the word: hard (difficult, frustrating, confusing…) DDo not: Use 5th grade words
Hard The final exam was hard. Algebra is a hard subject for me difficult. challenging subject for me. frustrating, perplexing, complicated
AVOID the words: alot (a lot) till (until) DDo not: Use 5th grade words
AVOID the words: stuff (possessions, boxes etc…) mad (angry, upset, enraged) DDo not: Use 5th grade words
D Do not: Use “very”
DDo not: Use “very” “Very” adds nothing to a description. In order to show intensity, use stronger words or figures of speech.
His skin was very dry. His skin was so dry that he looked like a shedding snake. dry skin very very DDo not: Use “very”
If someone is confused, he/she is confused. (Adding “very” does not change anything!) DDo not: Use “very”
Use a stronger word and avoid “very” Very tired Exhausted DDo not: Use “very”
And finally, avoid the worst opening line ever written… (unless your goal is to present yourself as a dull, unsophisticated writer…)
This one line will destroy any hope for impressing a college professor with your essay… It’s DOOM for any essay…
Ready…? (I had to force my fingers to type these words...cringe…)
In today’s society, …
Or worse… “In today’s society, there are many reasons why…”
Remember to apply these Do’s & Don’ts to your writing… Start today! End of presentation