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Overcoming Common Writing Problems

Professional and student writers alike can overcome common writing problems in three key areas: organization, clarity, and punctuation.

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Overcoming Common Writing Problems

  1. 1. Jason Covington, Communications Chair University of Phoenix
  2. 2. <ul><li>Organization </li></ul><ul><li>Clarity </li></ul><ul><li>Punctuation </li></ul>Overcoming Writing Problems
  3. 3. <ul><li>Prewriting comes before drafting </li></ul><ul><li>Prewriting includes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Brainstorming </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reading/research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Outlining (sketch outline) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>E.G. Topic, main idea, thesis statement, </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>topic sentence 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. </li></ul></ul></ul>Overcoming Writing Problems
  4. 4. <ul><ul><ul><li>Can readers easily follow the structure? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Do topic sentences signal new ideas? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Are ideas presented in a logical order? </li></ul></ul></ul>Overcoming Writing Problems
  5. 5. <ul><li>Tighten wordy sentences (conciseness) </li></ul><ul><li>Prefer active verbs </li></ul><ul><li>Balance parallel ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Add needed words </li></ul><ul><li>Untangle mixed constructions </li></ul><ul><li>Repair misplaced and dangling modifiers </li></ul><ul><li>Provide some sentence variety </li></ul>Overcoming Writing Problems
  6. 6. <ul><li>Semicolon </li></ul><ul><li>Colon </li></ul><ul><li>Dash </li></ul><ul><li>Comma </li></ul>Overcoming Writing Problems
  7. 7. <ul><li>Joins two independent clauses (complete sentences) </li></ul><ul><li>Does NOT use coordinating conjunction </li></ul><ul><li>(and, but, or, nor, so, for, yet) </li></ul><ul><li>Joins two sentences that are inextricably linked (tied together with a connecting idea) </li></ul><ul><li>Is never used between elements of unequal rank </li></ul><ul><li>Should be used sparingly </li></ul>Overcoming Writing Problems
  8. 8. <ul><li>Injustice is relatively easy to bear; what stings is justice. --H.L. Mencken </li></ul><ul><li>He swallowed a lot of wisdom; however, it seemed as if all of it had gone down the wrong way. --G.C. Lichtenberg </li></ul>Overcoming Writing Problems
  9. 9. <ul><li>Between an independent and a subordinate clause: </li></ul><ul><li>America has been called a country of pragmatists; although the American devotion to ideals is legendary. </li></ul>Overcoming Common Writing Problems
  10. 10. <ul><li>Used after an independent clause to call attention to words that follow it </li></ul><ul><li>Indicates that something will follow </li></ul><ul><li>Can precede </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A list </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>An appositive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A quotation </li></ul></ul>Overcoming Writing Problems
  11. 11. <ul><li>The grocery list included the following: sprouts, lima beans, celery, and a case of Pepsi. </li></ul><ul><li>There are only three seasons here: winter, July, and August. </li></ul><ul><li>Consider the words of John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” </li></ul><ul><li>Dear Sir or Madam: </li></ul><ul><li>Boston: Bedford, 1997 </li></ul>Overcoming Writing Problems
  12. 12. <ul><li>Between a verb and its object or complement </li></ul><ul><li>Some important vitamins found in vegetables are: vitamin A, thiamine, and vitamin C. </li></ul><ul><li>Between a preposition and its object </li></ul><ul><li>The heart’s two pumps each consist of: an upper chamber and a lower chamber. </li></ul><ul><li>After such as , including , or for example </li></ul><ul><li>The trees on campus include fine Japanese specimens such as: black pines and cutleaf maples. </li></ul>Overcoming Writing Problems
  13. 13. <ul><li>Sets off material for special emphasis </li></ul><ul><li>Introduces a list, a restatement, an amplification, or a dramatic shift in thought </li></ul><ul><li>Shows interruption in dialogue </li></ul><ul><li>Sets off parenthetical material </li></ul><ul><li>Does not need space before or after </li></ul><ul><li>Should not be overused </li></ul>Overcoming Writing Problems
  14. 14. <ul><li>Along the wall are the bulk liquids—sesame seed oil, honey, and half-liquid peanut butter. </li></ul><ul><li>Consider the amount of sugar in the average person’s diet—104 pounds per year. </li></ul><ul><li>Overusing the dash makes sentences look fragmented—or at least sound choppy to the reader. </li></ul><ul><li>Everything that went wrong—from the car accident to the toxic waste in the neighborhood—was blamed on our move. </li></ul>Overcoming Writing Problems
  15. 15. <ul><li>Seeing that our young people learn to use computers makes good sense. Herding them—sheeplike—into computer technology does not. </li></ul>Overcoming Writing Problems
  16. 16. <ul><li>There are around 10 rules for using commas. Learn them! Don’t use commas in a sentence simply because they look like they belong there. </li></ul><ul><li>Use a comma: </li></ul><ul><li>Before a coordinating conjunction (and, or, nor, but, etc.) joining independent clauses. </li></ul><ul><li>After an introductory word group of three or more words. </li></ul><ul><li>Between items in a series. </li></ul>Overcoming Writing Problems
  17. 17. <ul><li>Between coordinate adjectives (patients with severe, irreversible brain damage). Adjectives are coordinate if they can be connected with and: severe and irreversible. </li></ul><ul><li>To set off a nonrestrictive (not essential or minor) element. For camp the children needed sturdy shoes, which were expensive. </li></ul><ul><li>To set off transitional and parenthetical expressions, absolute phrases, and contrasted elements. </li></ul>Overcoming Writing Problems
  18. 18. <ul><li>To set off nouns of direct address, the words yes and no, interrogative tags, and mild interjections. </li></ul><ul><li>To set off direct quotations introduced with expressions such as he said. </li></ul><ul><li>With dates, addresses, and titles. </li></ul><ul><li>After a salutation or closure in a letter. </li></ul>Overcoming Writing Problems
  19. 19. <ul><li>Professional as well as student writing can always be improved with better </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Organization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Clarity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Punctuation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Contact: [email_address] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mobile #: 314-606-6642 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>References: Diana Hacker’s Writing Style Guide </li></ul></ul>Overcoming Writing Problems