Example and rules Editing the Essay, Part One

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Those who have gone through the ecstasies and agonies of writing an essay knows the satisfaction (and sometimes the sadness) of finishing. Once you’ve done all of the work of figuring out what you would like to say, arriving at an arguable and interesting thesis, analyzing your evidence, organizing your opinions, and contending with counter-arguments, you may possibly feel that you’ve got nothing left to complete but run spell-check, print it out and await your professor’s response. But what spell- check can’t discern is exactly what real readers might think or feel once they read your essay: where they might become confused, or annoyed, or bored, or distracted. Anticipating those responses is the job of an editor—the job you take on as you edit your personal work.

While you proceed, understand that sometimes what may seem like a small problem can mask (be a manifestation of) a bigger one. A phrase—one that is poorly-worded seems, say, unclear or vague—may just need some tweaking to correct; essay-911.com nonetheless it may indicate that your particular thinking hasn’t developed fully yet, that you are not quite sure what you would like to express. Your language may be vague or confusing because the basic idea itself is. So learning, as Yeats says, to “cast a eye that is cold in your prose is not just a matter of arranging the finishing touches on your own essay. It is about making your essay better from the inside (clarifying and deepening your thinking and insights) and through the outside (expressing those ideas in powerful, lucid, graceful prose). These five guidelines can really help.

Read your essay aloud .

We can sometimes lose sight of the larger picture, of how all the sentences sound when they’re read quickly one after the other, as your readers will read them when we labor over sentences. When you read out loud, your ear will pick up some of the problems your eye might miss.

As you read your essay, remember the “The Princess together with Pea,” the story of a princess so sensitive she was bothered by a single pea buried underneath the pile of mattresses she lay upon. As an editor, you intend to be like the princess—highly alert to something that seems slightly odd or “off” in your prose. Therefore if something strikes you as problematic, don’t gloss over it. Investigate to discover the character associated with problem. Odds are, if something bothers you a little, it shall bother your readers a lot.

Be sure all of your words are doing work that is important making your argument .

Are typical of your words and phrases necessary? Or are they just taking on space? Are your sentences sharp and tight, or are they loose and dull? Do not say in three sentences what you can say in one single, and do not use 14 words where five is going to do. You want every word in your sentence to incorporate as meaning that is much inflection as you are able to. Yourself what “own personal” adds when you see phrases like “My own personal opinion,” ask. Isn’t that what “my” means?

Even small, apparently unimportant words like “says” can be worth your attention. In place of “says,” can you use a expressed word like argues, acknowledges, contends, believes, reveals, suggests, or claims? Words like these not just make your sentences more lively and interesting, they offer useful information: if you tell your readers that someone “acknowledges” something, that deepens their comprehension of how or why she or he said that thing; “said” merely reports.

3. Keep in mind the thought of le mot juste. Always look for the right words, the most precise and specific language, to say what you mean. Without the need for concrete, clear language, you can’t convey to your readers just what you think about a subject; you can easily only speak in generalities, and everybody has recently heard those: “The evils of society are a drain on our resources.” Sentences similar to this could mean so many things you intended that they end up meaning nothing at all to your readers—or meaning something very different from what. Be specific: What evils? Which societies? What resources? Your readers are reading your words to see just what you think, what you need certainly to say.

If you are having trouble putting your finger on just the right word, consult a thesaurus, but and then remind yourself of one’s options. Never choose words whose connotations or usual contexts you do not really understand. Using language you are unfamiliar with can result in more imprecision—and that will lead your reader to question your authority.

4. Beware of inappropriately elevated language—words and phrases which can be stilted, pompous, or jargony. Sometimes, in an attempt to sound more reliable or authoritative, or higher sophisticated, we puff up this sort to our prose of language. Usually we only wind up sounding like we are trying to sound smart—which is a sure sign to our readers that people’re not. When you are inserting words or phrases since you think they will sound impressive, reconsider. Should your ideas are great, you should not strain for impressive language; if they are not, that language won’t help anyway.

Inappropriately language that is elevated be a consequence of nouns getting used as verbs. Most elements of speech function better—more elegantly—when the roles are played by them these were supposed to play; nouns work very well as nouns and verbs as verbs. Read the following sentences aloud, and listen to how pompous they sound.

He exited the space. It is necessary that proponents and opponents for this bill dialogue about its contents before voting upon it.

Exits and dialogues work better as nouns and there are many means of expressing those ideas without turning nouns into verbs.

He left the space. People should debate the professionals and cons of the bill before voting.

Every now and then, though, this might be a rule worth breaking, such as “He muscled his method to the leading associated with relative line.” “Muscled” gives us plenty of information that may otherwise take several words or even sentences to state. And as it’s not awkward to learn, but lively and descriptive, readers will not mind the shift that is temporary roles as “muscle” becomes a verb.

5. Be tough on the most sentences that are dazzling. As you revise, you might find that sentences you needed in earlier drafts no further belong—and these will be the sentences you are most partial to. All of us are guilty when trying to sneak in our favorite sentences where they do not belong, because we cannot bear to cut them. But great writers are ruthless and will dispose off brilliant lines if they are no longer relevant or necessary. They already know that readers will soon be less struck by the brilliance than because of the inappropriateness of those sentences and they allow them to go.

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