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PostSubject: Writing in ENGLISH - Essay writing tips   Mon Nov 23, 2009 5:39 pm

Writing in English: Suggestions for English Compositions

1. Step One-Pre-writing (Brainstorming): Remember that this is the most important part of the writing process. This is the “idea explosion” time. Use listing, diagrams, idea bubbles, or any other method to get your thoughts down on paper in an organized fashion. Once you start writing (Step Two), you don’t have to stop to think of more to say or how to say it.
2. Step Two-Rough Draft (First Draft): Relax. Don’t work about mistakes. Just get those ideas down in sentence and paragraph form. Remember that this is not the final step. Your first draft isn’t the finished product, but is just that, a rough copy. It isn’t supposed to be perfect. It’s okay to change things around, scratch out, leave blanks, draw arrows, etc.
3. Step Three-Revising: This is the time to read back over your work and to have someone else read it (a peer, a friend, your teacher). Check for organization, clear ideas, and good use of words. Make sure your paper says what you want it to say. If not, change it. Add more ideas or take out what doesn’t fit.
4. Step Four-Proof-reading (Editing): Now is the time to worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar, and other mechanics. It is also wise to have someone else look over your paper at this stage. Read your paper aloud, often your ear will catch awkward phrasing, run-on sentences, etc.
5. Step Five-Final Copy: Hallelujah! You’re done! (see notes regarding format #20).
6. Remember that a composition should have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. The body should have approximately three main points.
7. Writing in English is usually very direct and straightforward. In compositions it is also usually rather formal.
8. The topic of a paragraph is almost always clearly stated in the first sentence. This is especially true of compositions. It is possible to lead up to a topic (for example, by giving background information) or to present ideas first and identify the topic at the end, but this is not typical.
9. It is unnecessary and not recommended to personalize your composition to the reader by saying, “Hello.” OR “I would like to tell you about…” OR “I am going to write about…” Instead, just jump right in.
10. Asking a rhetorical question at the end is okay, but this is not common. Nor is it common to ask too many questions within the body of the paper.
11. Don’t use flowery or overly poetic speech in your writing unless this is the way you usually talk. It doesn’t sound authentic.
12. Also be careful about overuse of idioms, proverbs, etc. In written English this is usually considered trite.
13. Be specific and use descriptive words. Explain what you mean by your word choice or why the idea is important enough for you to include it in your paper.
14. Assume that the reader may be unfamiliar with words or ideas. This is true of writing in English in general but is especially true if you are discussing a cultural feature.
15. There are no specifications for page length or number of words. However, usually a good “rule of thumb” is about one page.
16. Don’t start a new sentence at the left margin unless it is the beginning of a new paragraph, and then it should be indented.
17. To indent a paragraph when typing, tab in five spaces. If your paper is handwritten, the indentation should be about the width of your thumb.
18. A title is usually three to five words.
19. It is a good idea to leave a space in between each line (double-space) when writing your First Draft. This will give you or someone else room to make notes when editing.
20. A typical format for a Final Copy includes a title, left and right margins, clearly indented paragraphs, and double-spacing.
21. Final Copies should be typed or handwritten in blue or black ink on standard (A-4) paper.
22. When separating a word at the right margin, be sure to divide the word according to its syllables. Consult a dictionary for guidance.
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