Traits of Effective Writing

Hello Warriors! This week, we are talking about traits of effective writing. Keep these in mind while you write to see your work improve!

  1. Stimulating Ideas:

Good writing includes important ideas, accurate information, and interesting details. It also has a clear message or purpose.

2. Logical Organization:

Good writing is well organized. The opening catches the reader’s attention. The middle is well developed and answers the reader’s questions. The ending ties things together and leaves the reader with something to think about.

3. Personal Voice:

In the best writing, you can hear the writer’s voice. Voice is the special way a writer expresses ideas and feelings. Voice depends on who you are writing to: the audience.

4. Original Word Choice:

Good writing contains well-chosen words, including vivid verbs, specific nouns, and colorful adjectives.

5. Smooth Sentences:

Good writing flows smoothly from one sentence to the next. Sentences begin in different ways; some are short and others are long.

6. Correct and Accurate:

Good writing is free of errors in capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and grammar.

 

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Outline Away!

Imagine you have a box full of Legos, but no photo or instruction manual to guide you. You may be able to connect those blocks into something decent on your own, but without knowing the end goal, chances are, you’ll end up with a plastic clunker rather than a Batmobile.

The same goes for writing your next essay: You probably have plenty of ideas, notes, and readings to draw from—but if you don’t know what order you’re putting them in, you may end up with a sloppy result. With essay writing, the equivalent to your Lego instruction manual is an outline. Creating an outline before you start writing not only will make the writing process easier, you’re likely to end up with a stronger, more cohesive essay when you’re finished.

Why Outline?

First, why exactly is creating an outline important? It keeps your thoughts organized and will help you avoid repeating- or forgetting- key points as you write. Second, you’ll be getting the most important and difficult parts of essay writing figured out early —creating a thesis statement and deciding on your key points. This will help keep you focused when you do start writing, and it will lower the risk that you’ll waste time going off on tangents in your essay.

And don’t tell yourself, “I don’t have time to do an outline.” Creating an outline can actually save you time in the long run! Yes, it takes time to make the outline at first, and it’s not always an easy process. But you’ll get that time back later because you’ll be able to write the essay more efficiently and make fewer major revisions.

What to Include in Your Outline

To polish your outlining skills, try following this format:

I. The Introduction – why you chose this topic or your premise /thesis and/or the conclusion you hope to prove in the body (A). Enter the points you will cover (B).

Essay Outline Layout

Title (Centered or left-aligned)I. Introduction
A. Premise/Thesis
B. Statement of points
II. Body
A. Point 1
1. Supporting Information
2. Supporting Information
B. Point 2
Supporting Information
Supporting Information
III. Conclusion/Summary
A. Summary of supporting information
B. Conclusion reached
(Restatement of premise)
IV. Citations

II. The Body – Use the points as subheadings. (A, B, C, etc.) Under each point, list the information that supports or elaborates on each point (1, 2). This information will make up your essay body.

III. The Conclusion – The summary of your supporting information (A) should show how you reached your (B) conclusion.

IV. Citations – List your citations. (If you used outside sources of information).

In addition to helping you organize your thoughts, an essay outline also helps you plan the length of your paper. In fact, a good outline can make writing an essay as simple as filling in the blanks.

An essay outline can even help you determine the length of each paragraph. Especially in cases where you are limited to a number of pages, or assigned a word count, you can use an essay outline to break the structure into percentages or words.

Writing an essay outline can be as easy as you want to make it. Using an essay outline helps you organize your thoughts from beginning to end, and makes sure you don’t leave any important parts out of the middle!

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Midterm Madness at the Studio!

Come join us next week for our Midterm Madness event! We look forward to working with you.

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Important News, Warriors!

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Self editing help

Use this helpful editing checklist when reviewing your writing. Sometimes it is hard to know what to look for, but this list gives you helpful suggestions on where to start!

As always, we are here in Kemp Library for all of your writing needs.

Happy October!

 

☐ Wrong Word

affect/effect, lay/lie, sit/set, who/whom, toward/towards, etc.

☐ Vague Pronoun Reference

Confusing: Bob annoyed Larry, but that didn’t stop him from asking for a meeting.
Clear: Bob annoyed Larry, but that didn’t stop Larry from asking for a meeting.

 

☐ Missing or Unnecessary Capitalization

Capitalize proper nouns: The names of things, such as the Golden Gate Bridge.
Lowercase common nouns: Descriptions, such as that famous bridge.

☐ Unnecessary Shift in Verb Tense

Wrong: John Wilkes Booth barricaded the door while Lincoln is watching the play.
Right: John Wilkes Booth barricaded the door while Lincoln watched the play.

☐ Sentence Fragments

Sentence fragments aren’t always wrong, but don’t use them accidentally.

Fragments: Because she was late. And I held the door.

☐ Monotonous Sentence Structure

Monotonous: We were late. I called the office. Bob answered the phone. Bob told Sue. Sue stalled the investors.
Better: I called the office because we were late. Bob answered the phone and told Sue, who stalled the investors.

☐ Adjective Drift

Confusing: The property has seasonal creeks and trail access.
Clear: The property has trail access and seasonal creeks.

☐ Unnecessary Adverbs and Prepositions

Bloated: I was very angry that Bob sat down on the wet paint.
Better: I was furious that Bob sat on the wet paint.

☐ Parallelism Errors

Not Parallel: Kids like singing, chatting, and check their phones.
Parallel: Kids like singing, chatting, and checking their phones.

☐ Passive Voice

Passive voice isn’t wrong, but active sentences are often better.

Passive: The bell was rung by zombies.
Active: Zombies rang the bell.

☐ “There Are” Sentences

You can often improve on sentences that start with There are.

Not great: There are usually 54 cards in a deck.
Better: A deck usually has 54 cards.

☐ Jargon

Jargon: You can often improve on expletive sentences.
More Accessible: You can often improve on sentences that start with There are.

☐ Missing Comma After Introductory Element

Wrong: In the past we bought vinyl records.
Right: In the past, we bought vinyl records.

☐ Unnecessary Comma

Wrong: Bob likes pandas, and visits the zoo often.
Right: Bob likes pandas and visits the zoo often.

☐ Comma Splice

Wrong: I ate cake, I played games.
Right: I ate cake, and I played games.
Right: I ate cake and played games.

☐ Run-On Sentences

Wrong: I ate cake I played games.
Right: I ate cake, and I played games.
Right: I ate cake and played games.

☐ Missing Comma in a Compound Sentence

Wrong: All my friends came over for my birthday Tuesday and Bobby visited me the next day.
Right: All my friends came over for my birthday Tuesday, and Bobby visited me the next day.

 

☐ Mechanical Problems with Quotations

In the U.S., periods and commas go inside the closing quotation mark. Semicolons, colons, and dashes go outside the closing quotation mark. The position of question marks and exclamation points varies: They stay with their question or exclamation.

Correct: She yelled, “Help!” I won a copy of “Wrecking Ball”! She asked, “Are you hungry?” Did he just ask, “Are we in Hungary?”

☐ Quotation Marks for Emphasis

Wrong: “Free” soda on Saturdays.
Right: Free soda on Saturdays.

☐ Apostrophe Errors

Nouns take apostrophes to become possessive. Pronouns don’t. It’s means “it is” or “it has.” Its is the possessive form of it. Acronyms, initialisms, and years don’t take apostrophes to become plural (CDs, 1980s).

☐ Unnecessary or Missing Hyphen

Don’t hyphenate phrasal verbs.

Wrong: Log-in to your account.
Right: Log in to your account.

Do hyphenate compound adjectives. These mean different things: silver jewelry cart and silver-jewelry cart.

☐ Spelling Errors

Remember to run a spellcheck. It’s obvious but easy to forget.

☐ Search for these words and phrases to do a quick check: there are, it is, its, it’s, your, you’re, their, and they’re.

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Brainstorming Ideas!

Hello Warriors! Now that the semester is up and running, the first rounds of papers are beginning to roll in. Take a look at some of these helpful brainstorming tips to get you started:

1. Free writing

Free writing involves letting your thoughts flow freely on paper or your computer screen. Set aside a time frame like 15 minutes for writing or determine to write and fill a certain number of pages and get down to it. Write whatever comes to your mind. Don’t worry about typos, spelling or any other surface-level issues of grammar and style. Just write until your time is up or your page goal is attained.

When you are done, read through what you have written. You will no doubt find a lot of filler in your text, but there will also be golden nuggets of insights, discoveries and other little gems in there that you can pick out and develop for your projects. Even if you don’t discover any new idea nuggets, you will stir up your creative mind and unearth tit bits of raw concepts buried deep in your mind you can develop.

2. Clustering

Clustering, also known as idea mapping, is a strategy used to explore relationships and associations between ideas. If you have run out of ideas on a subject or topic, write down the subject in the center of a page. Highlight the subject either by underlining or circling it. Think of an idea that relates to the subject and jot it down on your page. Link the idea to the central subject.

Think of another idea that relates to the new idea you just created. Link this new idea with the previous idea. Repeat the process until you have a web of ideas on the page that are all derived from the main subject. Now you can visually see ideas that relate to your main subject. Identify clusters of ideas that interest you and use the key terms you attached to them as the departure points for your writing project.

3. Journalistic 5W’s and 1H

When researching a story and the angle to take when covering the story, journalists ask the 5W’s and 1H questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? Use the same technique to generate topic ideas, possible angles to take on the topic and the most pertinent information to include when addressing the topic.

Write each of the question words on a sheet of paper and leave spaces to provide answers for the questions. Answer all the questions relating to your topic in brief and then review the answers. Do you have more to say about one or more of the questions, such as more on the “where” and “why” than the “what” or are your answers evenly balanced?

You will discover that you know more or little about particular question words relating to your topic. Leverage that awareness to generate new writing ideas. Research your topic further to improve on areas you are least knowledgeable in, build on areas you are most knowledgeable in or the best way to organize what you already know to balance your topic more.

What are your favorite strategies to get started?

Share with us!

As always, the Writing Studio is here to help you with all your writing needs.

We hope to see you soon!

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Join Us for Welcome Week!

The Writing Studio will open on Monday, 9/11. We will have our traditional opening-week event Monday-Friday where we will have bookmarks, flyers, handouts, and information, along with free coffee and fruited water!

Students, faculty, and staff are invited to visit us this week to have a cup of coffee and learn about how the Studio can help you this semester.

 

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Studio is Gearing Up for Fall 2017!

We will be open for the fall semester on 9/11. Until then, all our resources are still available online: handouts, quizzes, and tutoring videos!

Please be patient as we train tutors and get ready for fall. We might be “under construction,” but our website is still accessible to you. Stay tuned for updates!

 

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Cut-Throat Fan Fiction!

The Anime Club held a special writing event on April 18th and had a wonderful time.
They challenged each other to comedic, competitive, creative composition!

Way to write!

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New Tutorial Video!

Watch our newest tutorial in the video section!

Click here to learn how to put together a simple but effective paragraph. It’s as easy as
building a burger!

Tutorials

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