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It Must Be Clear

An introduction to good writing practice



The Bigger Question Is What Is Good


Good writing is a combination of many factors, which seem overwhelming at times. You will
learn about these factors in this PowerPoint. Some areas are simple to avoid and others
require more thought, yet and still, if you follow them, youre writing will improve.
In its simplest form, Good writing is

easy to understand
says exactly what is meant
to the point

Unity is always a priority--anything that does not fit do not fall in love with it. Every word should

fit and belong with the purpose of the essay. If something doesnt move you emotionally, dont
write it.
Adam Singer puts it like this in The Most Important Tip For Great Writing: Good writing is a

flow experience not forced. Its clear, concise and deliberate. Its playful or impactful. Its
emotive and thought provoking. To the reader, it should be an effortless experience they lose
themselves in.
If something does not support your thesis, dont use it.

Work / Think Harder!

Work/Think harder: writing is different from speaking. It requires deliberation, it is more
formal, and it has standards. Sotake your time to invest yourself fully and revise as much
as necessary. Read aloud you essay sentence by sentence. The more you organize your
thoughts, the clearer you think and write. This will make you more confident also.

What slows us down is that we are all afraid of the permanence of writing. We are afraid of
making mistakes, of saying something that we didn't really mean, of appearing foolish. We
can gain some control over this fear if we realize that we have some control over how
permanent and how public our writing really is.


Be Precise and Concise: Six rules (Orwell)

Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech(informally)
Never use a long word where a short one will do
If it is possible to cut out a word, always cut it out

Never use the passive where you can use the active
Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can
think of an everyday English equivalent
George Orwell "Politics and the English Language", 1946

Example: writing that is imprecise


I cannot go to the meeting owing to the fact that I feel ill.

I cannot go to the meeting because I feel ill.
In spite of the fact that I feel ill, I will go to the meeting.
Although I feel ill, I will go to the meeting.
I was unaware of the fact that you were leaving.
I was unaware you were leaving.
The fact that he had not succeeded puzzled me.
His failure puzzled me.


Specific and Memorable Word Choice

So many words, so little time. If youre writing in English, you get a bonus that cant be
found in most other languages: an extra 300,000 words or so. At just over 490,000 words (and still
growing strong), the English language is the largest in the world. So, when it comes to deciding
which word to use where, youve got plenty of choices.
Strong verbs that tell how an actions are performed. Verbs are words that describe the
action in a sentence. Some verbs are said to be stronger than others, and these are the ones that
tend to make your writing more effective. Heres how it works: take a verb like run and another
verb with a similar meaning like sprint. Now, compare these two sentences: (1) I was running.;
(2) I was sprinting. They seem more or less the same, but theyre not. In the first sentence,
you learn that I was running but in the second sentence you also learn how I was running.
Adjectives and adverbs that make things more specific. Say Im in one of those huge
underground parking lots. You know, the ones with all the floors that look exactly the same. Say I
come back from several hours of shopping and I cant remember where I parked. After searching
franticly for an hour or so, Ill probably give up and try to find a parking attendant to help me.
The first question hes going to ask me is, What kind of car do you have? And Ill say Oh, you
know, its just a car. And then hell look at me like Im an even bigger idiot than I already am.
Why? Because Im not being specific enough for him to help me. Writing is like that, too. You
have to be specific in order to help your readers understand you. If you write, The man drove
away in his car, thats not nearly as helpful to your readers as, The anxious, young man drove
away nervously in the shiny new car his parents had just bought for him. Whats the difference?
Adjectives and adverbs.


Follow and Focus the Prompt


Focus on the task---dont go elsewhere. Read the guidelines

carefully. Many times a writer will deviate from the guidelines

and purpose of the essay, distorting the unity and coherency of
the essay.
Follow the task---you cant just write whatever you want.
Ex of Prompts

University of Wales, Aberystwyth

More Little Rules That Make a Difference


Do not repeat yourself.

Do not use contractions. Spell out dont, youre, whos, etc.
Avoid run-ons, comma splice and fragments. Understand how to avoid these three

Master the comma
Use transitions effectively and correctly
Finish your paragraph. Be elaboratedont cut it short.
Have fun with it; you are the author. Implement your voice.
Read a lot anythingbut dont just read analyze.
Develop different heuristics and let the writing process generate your writing.
REVISEbe flexible to change
Dont wait for inspiration to begin.

University of Wales, Aberystwyth

Look at Samples

Look at Essay Samples.

University of Wales, Aberystwyth