Example and rules Editing the Essay, Part One

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Example and rules Editing the Essay, Part One

Whoever has been through the ecstasies and agonies of writing an essay knows the satisfaction (and often the sadness) of finishing. When you have done all the work of figuring out what you want to express, arriving at an arguable and interesting thesis, analyzing your evidence, organizing your opinions, and contending with counter-arguments, you could believe that you have got nothing left to accomplish but run spell-check, print it out and await your professor’s response. Exactly what spell- check can’t discern is exactly what real readers might think or feel when they read your essay: where they might become confused, or annoyed, or bored, or distracted. Anticipating those responses could be the working job of an editor—the job you are taking on as you edit your very own work.

As you proceed, keep in mind that sometimes what might seem like a problem that is small mask (be a symptom of) a more substantial one. A phrase—one that is poorly-worded seems, say, unclear or vague—may just need some tweaking to correct; nonetheless it may indicate that your particular thinking has not developed fully yet, that you’re not quite sure what you would like to state. Your language may be vague or confusing as the idea itself is. So learning, as Yeats says, to “cast a eye that is cold on your own prose is not just a matter of arranging the finishing touches on your essay. It’s about making your essay better through the inside (clarifying and deepening your opinions and insights) and through the outside (expressing those ideas in powerful, lucid, graceful prose). These five guidelines will 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. Once you read out loud, your ear will pick up a number 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 alert to something that seems slightly odd or “off” in your prose. So if something strikes you as problematic, don’t gloss on it. Investigate to uncover the character of this problem. Odds are, if something bothers you just a little, it will bother your readers a lot.

Make sure your entire words are performing important operate in making your argument .

Are all of your phrases and words necessary? Or are they just trying out space? Are your sentences tight and sharp, or are they loose and dull? Do not say in three sentences what you can say within one, plus don’t use 14 words where five is going to do. You would like every word in your sentence to include custom thesis paper as meaning that is much inflection as you possibly can. 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” are worth your attention. Instead of “says,” would you use a expressed word like argues, acknowledges, contends, believes, reveals, suggests, or claims? Words such as these not only create your sentences more lively and interesting, they provide useful information: he or she said that thing; “said” merely reports if you tell your readers that someone “acknowledges” something, that deepens their understanding of how or why.

3. Bear in mind the idea of le mot juste. Always look for the most perfect words, the most precise and language that is specific to express that which you mean. Without the need for concrete, clear language, you cannot convey to your readers exactly what you think of a subject; you can only speak in generalities, and everyone has recently heard those: “The evils of society are a drain on our resources.” Sentences such as this could mean a lot of 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 what you think, what you have to say.

If you should be having problems putting your finger on simply the word that is right consult a thesaurus, but and then remind yourself of your options. Never choose words whose connotations or usual contexts you do not really understand. Using language you’re new to can cause 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 maybe more sophisticated, we puff up this sort to our prose of language. Usually we only wind up sounding like we are attempting to sound smart—which is a sign that is sure our readers that people’re not. When you’re inserting words or phrases since you think they will sound impressive, reconsider. When your ideas are good, you don’t need to strain for impressive language; if they’re not, that language will not help anyway.

Inappropriately elevated language can derive from nouns being used as verbs. Most parts of speech function better—more elegantly—when the roles are played by them they certainly were supposed to play; nouns work well as nouns and verbs as verbs. Read the sentences that are following, and listen to how pompous they sound.

He exited the space. It is necessary that proponents and opponents of this bill dialogue about its contents before voting on 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 area. People should debate the advantages and cons for this bill before voting.

From time to time, though, this will be a rule worth breaking, like in “He muscled his way to the front for the relative line.” “Muscled” gives us lots of information that may otherwise take words that are several even sentences to convey. And as it’s not awkward to read through, but lively and descriptive, readers will not mind the temporary shift in roles as “muscle” becomes a verb.

5. Be tough on your most sentences that are dazzling. You may find that sentences you needed in earlier drafts no longer belong—and these may be the sentences you’re most fond of as you revise. We’re all guilty of trying to sneak inside our sentences that are favorite they don’t really belong, because we cannot bear to cut them. But great writers are ruthless and can get rid of brilliant lines if they’re no more relevant or necessary. They know that readers should be less struck by the brilliance than by the inappropriateness of those sentences and they allow them to go.