Writing English essays - General Info

Ways to improve your writing

  1. Read it aloud to yourself. Screenplay writers do this, as do broadcasters. Aim to find at least one improvement per 100 words.
  2. Cut every word, phrase, and sentence that is repetitive or unneeded.
  3. Add full stops (periods). Your sentences should average no more than 12 words, to enhance comprehensibility and to reduce the charms of complex grammar.
  4. Use specific nouns and verbs. Replace adjective-noun pairs with stronger nouns. Replace adverb-verb pairs with stronger verbs.
  5. Your reader is not a mind reader, just a print reader. Be aware of what the reader will not know. Define your terms.
  6. Remove negatives (no, not), rewriting so you express your idea positively.
  7. Subject-predicate sentences are clearest and minimize the reader's puzzled frustration.

To avoid plagiarism

Wikipedia defines plagiarism as "a form of academic dishonesty, the unacknowledged use of another person's idea(s), information, language or writing. ... the passing off of another person's work as one's own, whether deliberate or accidental." To avoid a charge of plagiarism, you must:

  1. Give citation and reference for every quotation and every borrowed idea.
  2. Put quotation marks around any language that you copy verbatim.
  3. Use your own words and style when you summarize or paraphrase.