College Success Workshop: 10 Ways to Improve Your Writing Today A Presentation given by the Mount Ida College Writing & Math Center
Number 10: A Way to Start: Know Your Role and Goal What is your role in this writing assignment? – Investigator --Explainer --Describer – Persuader --Analyzer --Synthesizer What is your goal in this writing assignment? – Consider your purpose – Consider your audience – Consider your tone
Number 9: A Clear Thesis Limit yourself to one sentence within the introduction. State your position on the topic. Tell what your paper will be about. Give an idea of the scope of your paper.
Number 8: Develop Strong Paragraphs--Organize and Exemplify Organize your paragraphs to best illustrate your thesis. – Chronologically – Problem/Solution – Cause/Effect – Reasons (Least to Greatest) Exemplify the main idea in each topic sentence with supporting details.
Number 7: Go With the Flow! Use Transitions Effectively Adding Things Up: – Additionally, – In addition to X, another reason is Y. – Also, Showing Contrast: – In contrast, – On the other hand, – However, – Although X is important, one must also consider Y.
Number 7: Go With the Flow! Use Transitions Effectively Showing cause and effect: – If voters don’t elect politicians who support environmental change, then global warming will continue to damage the earth. – When vending machines in public schools provide only healthy snacks, then children will make better food choices.
Number 6: Be Bold!Use Strong Nouns and Active Verbs Begin sentences with the most important idea in the sentence: – Instead of: ―It is critical that our country does whatever it can to lessen our dependence on foreign oil.‖ – Try: ―Lessening our dependence on foreign oil is critical for our country.‖
Number 6: Be Bold!Use Strong Nouns and Active Verbs Avoid unnecessary words at the beginning of sentences: – Instead of: ―There is special equipment that is required for his job.‖ – Try: ―Special equipment is required for this job.‖
Number 6: Be Bold!Use Strong Nouns and Active Verbs Use active verbs rather than passive voice: – Instead of: ―A meaningful plan needs to be offered by the strongest candidate.‖ – Try: ―The strongest candidate needs to offer a meaningful plan.‖
Number 5: Avoid Run-ons andFragments Keep simple sentence patterns in mind: – Subject Verb – S V Direct Object – S V, and S V – S V, but S V – S V; however, S V – S V; therefore, S V
Number 5: Avoid Run-ons andFragments For variety, begin a sentence with a dependent clause: – Because Joe practiced, he beat his competitors. – When I show enthusiasm, I find it is infectious. – Although she couldn’t offer a good explanation, Mary dropped out of the race. For variety, begin a sentence with a descriptive phrase: – Believing in his theory, the scientist continued on with his research.
Number 4: Show Good FormUse Parallelism Items in a series should be listed using the same part of speech: – The new vice-president is skilled, enthusiastic, and you can depend on her (try: dependable). – Taking the time to get to know the athlete will result in earning her respect, reduce (try: reducing) her anxiety, and gain (try: gaining) her trust.
Number 3: Keep it SimpleWrite Clearly and Concisely Use strong verbs instead of weak ones: – Not ―gave a summary of‖ but “summarize” – Not ―came to the realization‖ but “realized” Use concise phrases instead of wordy ones: – Not ―a lot of‖ but “many” – Not ―at a rapid rate‖ but “rapidly” – Not ―it is our opinion that‖ but “we think” – Not ―due to the fact that‖ but “because”
Number 3: Keep it SimpleWrite Clearly and Concisely Use concise prepositions instead of wordy ones: – Not ―with the exception of‖ but “except for” – Not ―in order that‖ but “so” – Not ―in the process of‖ but “during”
Number 2: Keep it ClearUse Pronouns Cautiously Pronouns have to agree in number and gender to the words to which they refer: – Someone left their book on the table. (incorrect—should be ―his or her book”) – I’m going to miss you like a child misses their blanket. (incorrect—try “like children miss their blanket”) The noun to which the pronoun refers must be clear: – Joe told Jim his car was stolen. (incorrect)
Number 1: Leave Time and Energy fora Great Finish Write a memorable CONCLUSION: – Summarize your paper but consider the BIG PICTURE. Remember to PROOFREAD: – Read your paper out loud to yourself or to someone else. Come up with a great TITLE: – Whether you write it first or last, a thoughtful title, gives your paper a polished look.
Other Things To Do . . . Write with someone from your class or with a group from your class. Read each other’s writing out loud. Call or email Christine McLaughlin, Director of the Academic Success Center/Writing & Math Center, if you need help with any of these tips: 617-928-7323 or firstname.lastname@example.org Visit the Writing & Math Center in ATC 306. Make an appointment at the Writing Center: 617- 928-7322!