Example and rules Editing the Essay, Part One

Example and rules Editing the Essay, Part One

Those who have been through the ecstasies and agonies of writing the satisfaction is known by an essay(and quite often the sadness) of finishing. Once you’ve done most of the work of finding out what you need to say, coming to an arguable and thesis that is interesting analyzing your evidence, organizing your thinking, and contending with counter-arguments, you may feel that you have nothing left to do but run spell-check, print it out and await your professor’s response. Exactly what spell- check can’t discern is what readers that are real think or feel when they read your essay: where they could become confused, or annoyed, or bored, or distracted. Anticipating those responses may be the job of an editor—the job you are taking on as you edit your own personal work.

While you proceed, keep in mind that sometimes what might appear like a small problem can mask (be a manifestation of) a larger one. A phrase—one that is poorly-worded seems, say, unclear or vague—may just need some tweaking to fix; but it may indicate that the thinking has not developed fully yet, that you’re not exactly sure what you want to express. 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 the prose is not only a matter of arranging the finishing touches in your essay. It’s about making your essay better from the inside (clarifying and deepening your thinking and insights) and through the outside (expressing those ideas in powerful, lucid, graceful prose). These five guidelines often helps.

Read your essay aloud .

When we labor over sentences, we are able to sometimes lose sight of this larger picture, of how all of the sentences sound when they’re read quickly one after the other, as the readers will read them. Whenever 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. So if something strikes you as problematic, don’t gloss on it. Investigate to locate the character associated with the problem. Chances are, if something bothers you just a little, it will bother your readers a whole lot.

Make sure your entire words are doing important work in making your argument .

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

3. Bear in mind the thought of le mot juste. Always try to find the right words, the most precise and specific language, to state what you mean. Without the need for concrete, clear language, you cannot convey to your readers precisely what you consider a topic; you are able to only speak in generalities, and everybody has already heard those: “The evils of society are a drain on our resources.” Sentences similar to this could mean so many 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’re having problems 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 usual contexts you don’t really understand. Using language you are new to can cause more imprecision—and that can lead your reader to question your authority.

4. Beware of inappropriately elevated language—words and phrases that are stilted, pompous, or jargony. Sometimes, in an effort to sound more reliable or authoritative, or even more sophisticated, we puff up our prose with this sort of language. Usually we only find yourself sounding like we are wanting to sound smart—which is a sure sign to our readers that people’re not. Because you think they’ll sound impressive, reconsider if you find yourself inserting words or phrases. If for example the ideas are good, you don’t have to strain for impressive language; if they are not, that language will not help anyway.

Inappropriately elevated language can result from nouns being used as verbs. Most parts 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 pay attention to how pompous they sound.

He exited the room. It’s important that proponents and opponents of this bill dialogue essay writer for you about its contents before voting on it.

Exits and dialogues are better as nouns and there are many ways of expressing those ideas without turning nouns into verbs.

He left the room. People should debate the professionals and cons for this bill before voting.

Every now and then, though, that is a rule worth breaking, like in “He muscled his solution to the front for the line.” “Muscled” gives us a lot of information that may otherwise take words that are several even sentences to state. And since it’s not awkward to read, but lively and descriptive, readers will not mind the shift that is temporary roles as “muscle” becomes a verb.

5. Be tough in 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 are all guilty of trying to sneak within our sentences that are favorite they do not belong, because we cannot bear to cut them. But writers that are great ruthless and certainly will get rid of brilliant lines if they are no more relevant or necessary. They know that readers will likely be less struck by the brilliance than by the inappropriateness of those sentences and they allow them to go.