14-01-2006, 11:38 AM
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| | The Keys to Effective Writing
[LEFT]The Keys to Effective Writing
Tips for Tackling Your Essays and Papers
Writing skills are essential for succeeding in high school, college, and at a job. If essays and papers stress you out, keep in mind, writing is not just an end result, but also a process that helps you develop your ideas and think logically.
Begin by brainstorming topics, collecting information, taking a lot of notes, and asking a lot of questions. Keep your notes and sources organized as you go.
When developing your topic, look for patterns and relationships. See what conclusions you can draw. Try discussing your ideas with classmates or your teacher. A new perspective can help shake up your thinking, and keep your momentum going.
Organize Your Writing
Develop an outline to help you stay on track as you write, identifying your main points and what you want to conclude. Keep in mind basic essay and paper structure:
The introduction should give your reader an idea of the essay's intent, including a basic statement of what the essay will discuss.
The body presents the evidence that supports your idea. Use concrete examples whenever and avoid generalities.
The conclusion should summarize and make sense of the evidence you presented in the body.
The Rough Draft
You may find as you write that you end up with a different idea than the one you began with. If your first topic or conclusion doesn't hold water, be open to changing it. If necessary, re-write your outline to get yourself back on track.
Other important writing tips:
Keep your audience in mind.
Write for the general reader, unless your teacher tells you otherwise. "The general reader" refers to anyone of average intelligence with a fairly sound, basic education.
Get acquainted with the vocabulary.
Become familiar with the vocabulary of your subject. For example, when writing about fiction, drama, and poetry, critical writers use words such as: syntax, tone, attitude, voice, speaker, and thesis.
Refine and Proofread
When you're done, take a break so you can come back to your writing with fresh eyes. Ask yourself:
Is the writing clear?
Do the ideas make sense?
Are all of my requirements fulfilled?
Did I avoid repetition?
Have I used proper grammar and spelling?
How does it sound read out loud?
Leave enough time to show your draft to others -- use your school's writing center, if possible. A fresh perspective can help you polish your paper, and catch inconsistencies and mistakes.
What you read influences how you write and can become your teacher without you being aware of it. For example, if you read Great Expectations before writing a paper your writing will probably start to sound similar to Charles Dickens'. Of course the same goes if you read "Teen People."
Note sure what to read? If you liked a book you read in class, ask your teachers to recommend others like it, or read more by the same author. For ideas on great reading check out our 101 Great Books list.
Reading is also a great way to conquer writers' block. Reading helps exercise your mind and get your ideas moving again. Of course, a great way to prevent writers' block is to write more.
You've heard it before, but this advice never gets old: practice makes perfect. The more writing you do, the better you'll get. And as your skills improve, so will your enjoyment. Here are a few ways some students write outside the classroom that you might want to consider:
Keep a journal of your thoughts and the events of the day
Start a zine with your friends on topics important to you
Write letters to the editor of the magazines and newspapers you read
When you're in the habit of writing -- no matter what kind of writing it is -- papers and essays won't seem as difficult.[/LEFT