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Common Writing Errors Be articulate, clear and persuasive.

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Presentation on theme: "Common Writing Errors Be articulate, clear and persuasive."— Presentation transcript:

1 Common Writing Errors Be articulate, clear and persuasive

2 Introduction: What’s the point?  Your introduction directs your whole paper. It states clearly what you intend to prove (hint: this is your thesis)… and it lays out a plan for accomplishing this.  Your introduction should contain a thesis statement (which your body paragraphs will support). Your conclusion should wrap up your argument.

3 A Good thesis is….  Not a Question (that is why it is a thesis statement)  Takes one position and doesn’t hedge its bets  Specific and concise Crime must be stopped.  vs. Our courts should hand out tougher sentences. Hemingway's war stories are really good.  vs. Hemingway's war stories helped to create a new prose style.

4 The flow of your paper….  The standard format for an effective essay or article is to:  (1) present a coherent thesis in the introduction,  (2) try your hardest to convince the reader of your thesis in the body of the paper, and  (3) restate the thesis in the conclusion so that the reader remains quite sure what your thesis is, and so that the reader can decide whether he or she was convinced.

5 A sentence has more than one word… and a paragraph needs more than one sentence.  Any one, two or three sentence paragraphs need to be revised. Your paragraphs should have multiple sentences, just the same as your essay needs multiple paragraphs.  Your paragraphs shouldn’t vary too much in length – if you have a paragraph that is more than one page, or if you have a paragraph that is significantly shorter than your other paragraphs, REVISE

6 We are not having a conversation…. in your essay  Do not announce what you will be discussing (e.g. In this essay, I will talk/discuss/write about capital punishment); Just do it. (Capital Punishment is wrong).  Do not address your reader in a formal paper; this may be appropriate and effective in a letter or a personal piece of writing but it undermines the tone of your formal essays.  REMEMBER: Things may be clear in your mind, but your audience can only read what's on the paper. They cannot read what's in your mind. Make sure you are as specific as possible in detailing your thought process and reasons for your position.

7 Support, support, support  The evidence (or reasons) you use to support your argument decides whether or not you have an effective paper.  You might have the most brilliant thesis in the world, but if you fail to support it, your essay will not be successful.

8 Huh? What does vague mean anyway….  Be specific in the words you choose (5 points of your whole essay is devoted to word choice!!).  There is a reason there are horror books and movies called “It” and “The Thing.”  NOT: Although the motorcycle hit the tree, it was not damaged. (Is "it" the motorcycle or the tree?)  NOT: I don't think they should show violence on TV. (Who are "they"?)  NOT: George worked in a national forest last summer. This may be his life's work. (What word does "this" refer to?)  NOT: If you put this sheet in your notebook, you can refer to it. (What does "it" refer to, the sheet or your notebook?)  (examples adapted from

9 Sentence Problems  The deadly sentence starters (PLEASE DO NOT USE!!!): Then Also Now And Which So But (you can exchange However for most buts: “But, that position is wrong.” becomes “However, that position is wrong”)

10 The semi-colon….  If in doubt, don’t use it. It is a stylistic choice that can be overcome in a variety of ways.  It is better to not use it at all than to use it incorrectly: (she went to the store, however; she forgot her wallet.)

11 Proofreading tips….  Read your essay aloud: If what you've written sounds wrong to you, it's not going to sound any better to anyone else.  Print your paper out for editing – it is much easier to identify errors that way  Type your essays: spell check can be very helpful if you struggle with spelling but don’t rely on it 100%  Identify your “error pattern”/problem areas. Check your returned papers for any common errors and look for those in your rough draft.  To help you focus on each line of your paper individually, so that you will be more likely to notice mistakes, you can use a ruler to move slowly from line to line. You could also try reading your paper backwards one line at a time. Both of these techniques force you to focus on each individual line rather than the overall argument and organization of the  Ask a friend/family member/teacher to take a look at your paper. You can read your paper aloud, or ask them to read it aloud to you.

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