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    TWELVE PRINCIPLES OF GOOD WRITING

     

    1.     Examine the topic/question closely

    2.     Narrow the topic

    3.     Decide what points to make about the cover

    4.     Collect ideas/put them in order

    5.     Start with an appealing and informative introduction

    6.     Develop your ideas with specific examples and details

    7.     Guide readers with transitions

    8.     Use precise, lively, and fresh words/ omit “be’s” (passive verbs)

    9.     Omit needless words

    10.   Vary sentence structure

    11.   End your essay unforgettably

    12.   Proofread for standard spelling, punctuation, grammar, usage, capitalization

     

     

     

    THE TOPIC

     

    1.     Read and highlight the question.

    2.     Make the question as narrow as possible for the length of essay required

    3.     Think of a controlling idea-the bigger picture-the purpose of your writing

    4.      Decide upon a point to prove in your essay-a THESIS

    5.      Will you be able to support your thesis with at least 3 examples, reasons, anecdotes, or citations?

     

     

    THE INTRODUCTION

     

    1.     Begin with a catchy lead (question, quotation, ironic statement, shocking statement, three one-word sentences-same part of speech, etc.)

    2.     Include a reference to the topic/question (Use some of the key words from the question.)

    3.     Write a clear thesis.

    4.     Identify what details you will be using to support your thesis. (Include titles and authors when writing literary essays.)

    5.     Write a controlling idea. (Why is this topic important in the big scheme of things?)

     

     

    THE DEVELOPMENT

     

    1.     Divide your topic into 3 or more subtopics (3 reasons, examples, anecdotes, etc.)

    2.     Develop each subtopic with very specific details. Read the question for suggestions about where the details may come from: the given text, history, literature, the arts, current events, literary terms, etc.

    3.     Organize your subtopics logically according to: chronological order (time) or order of importance (least to most/most to least), or spatial (places), or comparison/ contrast.

    4.     Use transitions to guide the reader through your logic (moreover, next, secondly, similarly, conversely, even so, indeed, soon, meanwhile, in this vicinity, finally, in other words, etc.)

    5.     Connect the idea in the last sentence of a one paragraph to the first idea in the following paragraph.

    6.     Choose details which convey a “video” that the reader can see, hear, taste, and feel rather than just provide your boring summary. Show, don’t tell.

     

    CONCLUSION

    1.        Emphasize your thesis.

    2.        Leave behind a bit of insight, wisdom, or humor.

    3.        End with a reference to your lead.

    4.        End with a parting question or quotation.

    5.        End with a reference to the controlling idea.

    6.        Go “global or noble”

     

     

    Diction/Word Choice

     

    *Choose colorful descriptive

     nouns and active interesting

     verbs.

    1.     Choose interesting active verbs (pitch or chuck rather than throw; stroll or strut rather than walk; plead or scream rather than say).

    2.     Do not write passive sentences where the subject is just waiting around for something to happen: avoid the “killer be’s.” (The boy was hit by the ball. Yuch! The ball hit the boy. Better.)

    3.     Choose engaging and colorful nouns.

    4.     Use adjectives which evoke imagery. (senses are used: foul stench of rotten eggs)

    5.     Omit needless words. Pretend every word costs a hundred dollars. Try to convey your idea in as few words as possible.  Eliminate unwarranted repetition.  Eliminate words which don’t add to the meaning of your sentence.

     

    *Use language that is

    appropriate to your

     audience

    (Usually that means

     formal language without

    colloquial or slang expressions,

     without abbreviations and

     contractions,

    without “I” and “you”,

     with number words if

    one/two words,

     not numerals.)

     


     

    Writing: Ten Ways to Start Sentences

     

     

    1. Vary your sentence patterns. Rarely begin your sentences with the subject. (Poison ivy thrives in the woods.)

     

    1. Begin with a prepositional phrase. (In the woods, the ivy thrives.)

               

    Location

    Time

    Action and Move-ment

    above

    at

    at

    below

    on

    by

    over

    by

    from

    under

    before

    into

    among

    from

    on

    between

    since

    onto

    beside

    for

    off

    in front of

    during

    out of

    behind

    to

     

    next to

    until

     

    with

    after

     

    in the middle of

     

     

    on

     

     

    in

     

     

    at

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    1. Begin with an adjective.

    Dangerous ivy thrives in the woods.)

       

     

    1. Begin with an adverb or adverb phrase. (Obviously, ivy thrives in the woods.)

     

     

    1. Begin with a subordinating conjunction and clause. 

    (While walking in the woods, beware of dangerous ivy.)

     

     

     

    after

    how

    till (‘til)

    although

    if

    unless

    as

    inasmuch  

    until

    as if

    in order that

    when

    as long as

    lest

    whenever

    as much as

    now that

    where

    as soon as

    provided (that)  

    wherever

    as though

    since

    while

    because

    so that

     

    before

    than

     

    even if

    that

     

    even though   

    though

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    1. Begin with a verbal, a verb ending in - ing, -ed, or beginning with to. (Walking in the woods, I avoided the poison ivy.)

     

     

    1. Invert the typical subject-verb order to be verb-subject. (Dangerous is the ivy that grows here.)

           

     

    1. Use rhetorical questions to draw the reader into your piece. (How can one recognize poison ivy?)

     

    1. Use imperative or exclamatory sentences to emphasize your tone. (Beware the deadly ivy!)

        

     

    1. Vary the length of your sentences. Get attention for an idea by placing it in a short sentence in the midst of several long sentences (20>words).