Common Sense Writing Tips by HC120914151932


									                            Common Sense Writing Tips
The following rules should be followed when writing essays, test answers, or formal
papers—in this class, and for the rest of your life.

1. First impressions are always important.
        When typing, double space.
        When writing for formal compositions, double space. Remember, though, that
           required length is doubled for handwritten papers.
        When writing or typing, write on one side of the paper only. Write neatly. A clean,
           well-presented paper that actually looks good on the page gives the first impression
           that your thoughts are organized.

2. Title essays, papers, and formal works exactly.
   A title is not the same thing as the name of the assignment. A clearly stated title will indicate
   the name of the assignment. You may not use the title of the work you are writing about for
   the title of your paper. If your paper is titled Julius Caesar, a reader would expect to see a
   five act play following the title, not an essay about the characters or themes in the five act
   play called Julius Caesar.
   Appropriate titles:         Good and Evil in Julius Caesar
                               Dimmesdale’s Evil Nature
                               True Love

   Inappropriate titles:      Thesis-Support Paragraph
                              “The First Snowfall”
                              The Scarlet Letter

3. Punctuate and place titles correctly:
       Short works = quotation marks
              Poem: “The Seafarer”
              Short Story: “The Fall of the House of Usher”
       Long works = underlined or italicized. Remember that handwritten papers can only
         use underlining.
              Long Poems: Paradise Lost
              Novels: To Kill a Mockingbird
              Plays: Julius Caesar
       Your work = centered in the middle of the page. Period.

4. Use formal language.
      Always avoid slang, contractions, and personal language (first and second person).
      Because your name appears on the first line of the first page, and in the margin of every
      page thereafter, your reader can be certain that every idea within those pages comes
      from you. Therefore, you do not have to included phrases such as “I believe that…” or “I
      think…” or “to me…” If a work of literature has given you an opinion, and you have
      examples to support that opinion, you have the authority to think and believe anything
      you want to think or believe.
              Instead of: “I think Cassius is evil.”
              Say: “Cassius is evil because…(give actual reasons here)…”

5. Write for your audience.
      When writing about literature, unless you have been asked to summarize a work, there
      is no need to summarize it. Assume the reader has already read the work you are
      referring to; most people will not read an essay titled “A Psychoanalysis of Macduff” if
      they have not read the play Macbeth first. The only exception here is for a review, in
       which case the summary should be brief, as possible and the critique should be

6. Literature lasts forever.
       Therefore, refer to it in present tense.

7. Authors are important people.
      Use their entire name the first time you refer to them. Thereafter, refer to them only by
      their last names.

8. Keep your reader informed.
      Mention the author’s name and the title of the work within the first couple of sentences of
      the paper.

9. Stay focused.
      Keep your thesis or main idea in mind at all times. Every single sentence in your paper
      should support that thesis or some part of that thesis. All quotations or references to
      literature should be examples of the thesis.

10. Maintain your balance.
       Do not spend too much time on one part of a thesis and not enough time on others.
       Give every part of your thesis ample support so that no points are underdeveloped, but
       no points are rambling.

11. Support your answer.
       Whenever possible, use other sources to make your point clear. These may be from the
       literature itself, or from what other people have written about the literature or author.
       This makes your work believable. It also makes you seem to know what you are talking
       about. This is the same technique as the “You can ask _________!” theory.

12. Document accordingly and clearly.
       ALWAYS give credit to the outside sources in #11 by stating the name and work you
       used to support your opinion. In formal papers, put these works in a works cited page at
       the end. Document directly quoted material and material that is just “referred to”
       (paraphrase material). There is absolutely nothing wrong with using someone else’s
       work (in fact it is encouraged!) as long as it supports what you are saying and you give
       the original person credit.

13. Follow your assignment guidelines.
        Answer the question you are asked. For example, do not give your opinion of a book
        (review) if you are asked to analyze it. Do not write a five-paragraph essay for a thesis
        support paragraph.

14. Outside references are weak – without your support, that is.
       They need to be introduced to the reader. Lead in to a quote or paraphrase. NEVER let
       it stand alone—it is too weak all alone! Work in the leader and the material so that it
       reads smoothly and forms a complete sentence.
                “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun.” Shakespeare says this to show
                   his lover’s flaws.
                Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 “I grant I never saw a goddess go…”
                Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130: “I grant I never saw a goddess go…”
    In Sonnet 130, Shakespeare displays the flaws of his love when he says, “My mistress’
      eyes are nothing like the sun” (II.1)
    According to Jones, Shakespeare sees true beauty in his love (31).

15. Punctuate correctly lines of poetry.
       Put quotation marks (of course) around directly quoted lines of poetry, and mark the
       separation of lines between one line and another in the original poem with a slash.
 Spenser begins his poem with an unfortunate incident when he says, “I wrote her name
    upon the strand, / But came the waves and washed it away” (1-2).

16. Use common spacing and placement on the page.
 There are no extra lines between paragraphs.
 There are no extra lines anywhere in the paper.
 The entire paper is simply doubled space.
 There are no extra lines between the heading and the title.
 There are no extra lines between the title and the first paragraph.
 Paragraphs are indented.
 Every single line of a page begins with a letter or word. A punctuation mark will never, ever,
    ever start a line on a page.

17. Apostrophes show possession or a contraction. They do not show pluralism. (e.g. The
    Browns went to school, not The Brown’s went to school.)

18. Do not personify books or objects:
       Only animate (moving and living) objects can perform actions of verbs.
 The book presents scholarly ideas in a clear manner.
 The author presents scholarly ideas in a clear manner.

19. Avoid casual or colloquial language.
       English is a rich language full of wonderful descriptive words. Don’t be lazy and use teen
       or country slang in formal papers. Take the time to think of or look up a more descriptive
       or picturesque word.
       Words to Avoid:
       a lot                                                 gonna
       wanna                                                 thing
       greatly                                               kinda
       get                                                   sorta
       kind of                                               dunno
       there (as a subject)

To top