Presentation on theme: "Hints for better writing How not to drown in my English class!!!!"— Presentation transcript:
Hints for better writing How not to drown in my English class!!!!
Reduction Whenever possible, eliminate unnecessary words by reducing clauses to phrases and phrases to single words Clause: Because he was discouraged about writing stories, Eric decided to try nonfiction. Phrase: Discouraged about writing stories, Eric decided to try non-fiction. Clause: The man who is holding the pistol is the starter. Phrase: The man with the pistol is the starter. Phrase: The fans booed the decision of the umpire. Word: The fans booed the umpire’s decision.
Avoid needless separation of related parts of a sentence Subject and Predicate should not be separated unnecessarily: –Wrong: I, hoping very much to see him, hurried. –Right: Hoping very much to see him, I hurried.
Adverbs should be placed near the word they modify. Particular care should be given to the position on the following adverbs: almost, only, scarcely, namely, hardly, even –Wrong: We only worked two hours. –Right: We worked only two hours. Phrases should be near the words they modify –Wrong: Notify us if you can come on the enclosed card. –Right: Notify us on the enclosed card if you can come. –Wrong: The little girl stood beside the horse in a blue dress. –Right: The little girl in a blue dress stood beside the horse.
Clauses should be near the words they modify –Wrong: She put a hat on her head a hat which she had just bought. –Right: She put on her head a hat which she had just bought. –Wrong: He bought a car from his friend that had a defective motor. –Right: He bought from his friend a car that had a defective motor.
Avoid “squinting” modifiers –Squinting: He said today he would go. –Clear:He said he would go today. –Clear: Today he said he would go. Avoid awkward splitting of infinitives –Wrong: I asked her to occasionally visit me. –Right: I asked her to visit me occasionally.
Avoid dangling modifiers A modifier is said to dangle when there is no word in the sentence that it can sensibly modify. The error can be corrected (1) by adding a word that the modifier can modify or (2) by expanding the modifier into a subordinate clause.
Dangling Participle Wrong: Flying over the Alps, the views were spectacular Right: Flying over the Alps, we saw spectacular views. Right: When we flew over the Alps, the views were spectacular.
Dangling Gerund Phrase: Wrong: After walking for hours, the cabin was found by the hikers. Right: After walking for hours, the hikers found the cabin.
Dangling Infinitive Wrong: To be well cooked, you must boil beets a half hour. Right: To be well cooked, beets must be boiled a half hour.
Dangling Elliptical Clause Wrong: When a little girl, my uncle took me to a circus. Right: When a little girl, I was taken by my uncle to a circus.
Use Parallel structure to express ideas of equal importance Wrong: She is slender, with blue eyes, and has a friendly manner. Right: She is slender, blue-eyed, and friendly. Wrong: He likes hiking and to fish. Right: He likes hiking and fishing. Right: He likes to hike and to fish.
In comparison or degree, avoid omitting necessary words Wrong: I was so tired. Right: I was so tired that I fell asleep. Wrong: Salaries of supervisors are higher than workmen. Right: Salaries of supervisors are higher than those of workmen.
Avoid needless shift in person or number Shift in Person –Wrong: When you are healthy, one should be thankful. (a shift from second to third person) –Right: When you are healthy, you should be thankful. –Right: When one is healthy, he should be thankful. Shift in Number –Wrong: If a person works hard, they will succeed. (a shift from singular to plural number) –Right: If a person works hard, he will succeed. –Right: If people work hard, they will succeed.
Avoid needless shift in tense or mood of verb Shift in tense –Wrong: She sat down by the fire and begins to knit. (Verb shifts from past tense to present tense) –Right: She sat down by the fire and began to knit Shift in mood –Wrong: Finish your work, and then you should rest. (Verb shifts from imperative mood to indicative mood) –Right: Finish your work and then rest. –Right: You should finish your work, and then you should rest.
Avoid the double negative The words hardly and scarcely are negative in meaning; they should not be used with not Wrong: I can’t scarcely hear him. Right: I can scarcely hear him. Right: I can’t hear him.
Avoid superfluous “that” Wrong: We know that, although we won, that we won’t get the prize. Right: We know that, although we won, we won’t get the prize.
Avoid Overly Ornate Phraseology Although a rich vocabulary is to be desired, the writer should avoid an excessive use of elaborate modifiers and high-flown synonyms merely to give the effect of grandiose diction. Lofty ideas may be expressed in simple and dignified language. By all means, one should try to increase his vocabulary, but words should be used with accuracy and with intent to convey meaning, not merely to impress the reader. Otherwise, the writer may appear to be guilty of affectation, and his ideas may even be obscured by his failure to state precisely and accurately what he has to say.
Specific is the key word to remember. You can use specific details and action verbs in writing to depict the same picture a filmmaker shows.
Look at the difference between these pictures: Average: He liked to read the Bible. More descriptive: A worn Bible lay open on his bedside. Average: She looked like a rich woman. More descriptive: A diamond twinkled on her left hand, a ruby glowed on her right, and her clothes had the cut that said money.
Use active voice instead of passive voice Passive voice: The dinner was eaten. Active voice: John ate dinner. Passive voice: The speech was given. Active voice: Harvey delivered the speech.
Use more active verbs Tease Humiliate Forgive Destroy Encourage Denounce Chide Interrogate Pamper transport Enhance Discredit Mock Intimidate Nullify Hearten Snub Neutralize Evoke Ensnare