Anyone who has gone through the ecstasies and agonies of writing an essay knows the satisfaction (and quite often the sadness) of finishing. Once you’ve done all of the work of finding out what you want to express, coming to an arguable and thesis that is interesting analyzing your evidence, organizing your opinions, and contending with counter-arguments, you may believe that you have nothing left to complete but run spell-check, print it out and await your professor’s response. Exactly what spell- check can’t discern is really what real readers might think or feel once they read your essay: where they may become confused, or annoyed, or bored, or distracted. Anticipating those responses could be the job of an editor—the job you are taking on as you edit your own work.
While you proceed, remember that sometimes what might seem like a problem that is small mask (be a manifestation of) a more substantial one. A phrase—one that is poorly-worded seems, say, unclear or vague—may just need some tweaking to fix; however it may indicate that the thinking hasn’t developed fully yet, that you’re not quite sure what you need to say. Your language could be vague or confusing considering that the idea itself is. So learning, as Yeats says, to “cast a cold eye” on the prose is not just a matter of arranging the finishing touches on the essay. It is about making your essay better through the inside (clarifying and deepening your thinking and insights) and from the outside (expressing those ideas in powerful, lucid, graceful prose). These five guidelines often helps.
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 aloud, your ear will pick up some of the nagging problems your eye might miss.
She was bothered by a single pea buried beneath the pile of mattresses she lay upon as you read your essay, remember the “The Princess and the Pea,” the story of a princess so sensitive. As an editor, you intend to princess—highly be like the tuned in to something that seems slightly odd or “off” in your prose. Therefore if something strikes you as problematic, don’t gloss on it. Investigate to discover the nature of this problem. It’s likely that, if something bothers you only a little, it will bother your readers a lot.
Be sure your entire words are doing work that is important making your argument .
Are all of the phrases and words necessary? Or are they just taking up space? Are your sentences tight and sharp, or are they loose and dull? Do not say in three sentences what you can say in a www.evolutionwriters.biz/ single, and do not use 14 words where five will do. You would like every word in your sentence to include as much meaning and inflection as possible. When you see phrases like “My own personal opinion,” ask yourself what “own personal” adds. Is not that what “my” means?
Even small, apparently unimportant words like “says” are worth your attention. In the place of “says,” could you use a word like argues, acknowledges, contends, believes, reveals, suggests, or claims? Words such as these not merely create your sentences more lively and interesting, they give you useful information: if you tell your readers that someone “acknowledges” something, that deepens their comprehension of how or why he or she said that thing; “said” merely reports.
3. Bear in mind the concept of le mot juste. Always try to look for an ideal words, the most precise and specific language, to state what you mean. Without using concrete, clear language, you cannot convey to your readers exactly what you consider a topic; it is possible to only speak in generalities, and everybody has recently heard those: “The evils of society are a drain on our resources.” Sentences like this could mean a lot of things which they end up meaning very little to your readers—or meaning something very different from what you intended. Be specific: What evils? Which societies? What resources? Your readers are reading your words to see what you think, what you have to say.
If you’re having trouble putting your finger on simply the right word, consult a thesaurus, but only to remind yourself of your options. Never choose words whose connotations or contexts that are usual don’t really understand. Using language you’re new to may cause more imprecision—and that may lead your reader to question your authority.
4. Beware of inappropriately elevated language—words and phrases that are stilted, pompous, or jargony. Sometimes, in order to sound more reliable or authoritative, or even more sophisticated, we puff up our prose using this sort of language. Usually we only wind up sounding like we are trying to sound smart—which is a sure sign to our readers that we’re not. Because you think they’ll sound impressive, reconsider if you find yourself inserting words or phrases. In case your ideas are great, you don’t need to strain for impressive language; if they’re not, that language won’t help anyway.
Inappropriately elevated language can derive from nouns being used as verbs. Most areas of speech function better—more elegantly—when they play the roles they were supposed to play; nouns work nicely as nouns and verbs as verbs. See the sentences that are following, and listen to how pompous they sound.
He exited the space. It is necessary that proponents and opponents of the bill dialogue about its contents before voting upon it.
Exits and dialogues are more effective as nouns and there are many means of expressing those basic ideas without turning nouns into verbs.
The room was left by him. People should debate the professionals and cons of this bill before voting.
From time to time, though, it is a rule worth breaking, as in “He muscled his solution to the leading regarding the line.” “Muscled” gives us a lot of information that might otherwise take several words or even sentences to convey. And since it’s not awkward to see, but lively and descriptive, readers will not mind the shift that is temporary roles as “muscle” becomes a verb.
5. Be tough on your most sentences that are dazzling. While you revise, you could find that sentences you needed in earlier drafts no longer belong—and these will be the sentences you’re most partial to. All of us are guilty when trying to sneak in our sentences that are favorite they don’t really belong, because we cannot bear to cut them. But writers that are great ruthless and will throw out brilliant lines if they’re no longer relevant or necessary. They know that readers should be less struck by the brilliance than by the inappropriateness of these sentences and they let them go.