A Complicated Relationship

1 Feb

Writing – we generally don’t like it.

It’s why we pull all-nighters the day before an essay is due.

It’s why we would rather take a test than do a term paper.

We get so intimidated sometimes by a blank page that we immediately seek out comfort food and let it take over our lives instead….

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(Oh, that’s just me? No one else turns to Haagen-Dazs for guidance? Sure.)

Now, I’m not going to pretend to be an expert by any means, as I am not a professional writer and I have never been published, but I have been learning a lot lately about writing.

I am currently taking a class about rhetoric.

What’s rhetoric, exactly? Well, it’s all about persuasion.

I’m learning how to write in such a way as to get a reader to think, feel, or do something.

It’s a good skill to have.

Employers look for good communicators and job interviews are all about rhetoric.

You can’t get through university without knowing how to write an essay, or give a presentation.

You need to use persuasion to get your TA to accept an assignment that’s a bit late…

Bottom line, rhetoric is important.

So I’ve listed here for you some of the things that I’ve learned about good writing so far.

#1. DO NOT ABUSE THE THESAURUS.

We all do it. We read a sentence of our essay and think that the words we’ve chosen need to sound a little “smarter”. So, we look at the thesaurus suggestions for alternate words and pick the longest one from the list.

DON’T DO IT.

First of all, you probably don’t know it’s actual definition, which means that it may not be the best choice of word for the point that you’re trying to make.

Second of all, if you read a sentence and all of sudden come upon a word that’s ten syllables long and looks like it can’t possibly exist in modern English, it’s a distraction. Your reader is now focusing on this ridiculous word that they don’t know the meaning of instead of focusing on the point that you’re trying to get across.

Oh yeah, and you never want to make your reader feel stupid.

(It just feels like defeat every time I have to open that dictionary app.)

#2. DON’T BE BORING.

There’s a formula we are taught from a young age in school that tells us how to structure our writing.

It goes introduction, main body, conclusion.

It’s boring.

Granted, all are required elements of composition, but you can be creative with it.

Experiment with organization and develop your own voice and tone that will make people want to read what you’re writing.

#3. CONSIDER YOUR READERS.

No matter what kind of writing you are doing, your reader is the most important person in the world.

Your writing is nothing without an audience.

You cannot have an effect on someone if you don’t know who that someone is.

So, know your audience.

Understand what they expect to hear and consider them in every choice that you make as a writer.

#4. IF YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND/LIKE WHAT YOU’RE WRITING ABOUT, YOUR READERS WILL FALL ASLEEP.

You have to know what you’re talking about (which means you have to read farther than an article’s abstract when conducting research) and you have to want to talk about it.

This is probably the one reason why staying up all night to finish an essay is a bad idea.

You can’t possibly care at 3 am about the topic of your term paper, or whether it is interesting or not. You just want to be done with it.

Well, if that’s the way you feel, that’s the way your paper’s going to sound to your reader…which is bad, because if it’s your TA or Prof, they will get bored and be less inclined to give you a decent grade.

Now, I know what you’re thinking…sometimes you don’t get to choose your topic.

Well, that’s where Rule #5 comes in…

#5. FIND YOUR ANGLE.

There’s room for creativity within a predetermined topic.

You have to find a way to create interest for yourself and your audience by choosing a unique aspect to focus on within that topic.

Again, that’s why the night before is a bad idea.

It takes time to organize your thoughts and to become excited about your angle.

Because, if you like what you’re doing, you’re going to do it better.

PROOF: I like eating ice cream…

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…and I certainly do it well.

 

Think I’m missing any rules? Comment below!

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