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Writing & Revising

  • Authoritative Discourse: Give yourself authority!

I think, it seems, in my opinion

  • Unless you’re citing a source, everything in your essay is your opinion. It’s not a fact, evidence, or an incontrovertible truth. You don’t need to tell us it’s your opinion by using filler like “I think,” “in my opinion,” or “IMHO.”
    • If you want to be more authoritative and credible, remove unnecessary references filler; unless it’s part of an example from your experience, it can probably be explained, rather than speculated. For example, if you're explaining why a particular part of the text demonstrates Pathos because it makes you uncomfortable, describe the beliefs/suppositions/expectations that might lead to discomfort rather than talking about your own crawly skin.
  • Delete: Anything that warns people you’re not absolutely sure of what you’re saying.
  • Keep: A quiet sense of confidence.
    • Generally speaking, you should start excising these words from your writing and make it a regular habit. Whether you’re writing a blog post, an essay, or even just an email, drop these words, and focus on avoiding them whenever you can.

Write what you mean, mean what you write

  • Avoid colloquialisms, unwarranted euphemism, and hasty generalizations.
    • Imprecise writing in any form/genre of prose is not doing you any favors! Phrases like "going the extra mile", "at the end of the day", "crystal clear," and "hard facts" or descriptors like "pretty" convincing, or something "really" being the case do not add to your authority; in fact, they make you sound trite and uninspired...
    • Don't forget that absolutes are rarely part of any honest analysis. "Everyone" doesn't know something just because it's obvious to you; There are exceptions to every rule; Never say never!

Be professional and diplomatic

  • Remember that when writing about someone else's work, always write as if your subject may read your essay.
    • If you want to be taken seriously, you need to be sure that whoever reads your writing will have the ability to accept your arguments based on their merit, rather than as an attack.

Say it, never just say that you will say it

  • This is a common flaw in introduction paragraphs. You may not have written an introduction yet (I always save these for last!), but be sure to formulate your "Ah-Ha" clearly and then follow up on it in your body paragraphs.
    • If you have to tell the reader what your essay is going to do, than you haven't considered why your audience is reading this essay in the first place!
  • This lesson shows that if you follow these rules and don't be dumb, I absolutely think that it will really improve your writing!

Freewrite

  • Let's get into the mindset of your analysis!
    • Think for a moment about whether you perceive your piece to be an effective argument or not (everything's an argument!).
    • Focus on the why: What makes this argument work? What does it expect its reader to figure out? What have you learned by investigating this stuff?
    • Once you're warmed up, we'll freewrite for a bit ;)

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