High School Writing Sydney

Amateur vs. Proffesional Writing

High School Writing Sydney

It might be a slight oversimplification but there are two important aspects to writing. One is getting solid information, and the other is communicating it clearly. Of course, original ideas are important, and insight into the topic is important too. But if our basic information is wrong then our original ideas and insights might be built on a misunderstanding. And if our ability to communicate is lacking, then our insights and original ideas will not be understood by the reader. This is a terrible waste.

Essays – High School Writing Sydney

So, how do we improve our writing? How can we be more like a published essay, something we expect to see in an academic journal?

• Use the most simple, direct language possible. Use ‘fast’ or ‘quick’ rather than ‘expeditious’.
• Active voice is almost always better than passive voice. ‘Harry drove the car’ is almost always better than ‘the car was driven by Harry’. There might be an exception if the rest of the paragraph is about the car. Active puts the emphasis on the subject of the sentence – ‘Harry’. If you use the passive sentence the emphasis falls on the ‘car’. Which one is the topic you are discussing?
• Let the natural rhythm of the sentences put the emphasis on the right word. ‘It was of superb quality’ vs. ‘it was superb’. Do you want to emphasise ‘superb’? or emphasis on ‘quality’?
• Padding doesn’t fool anybody worth fooling, certainly not the person marking your essay. A solid but slightly short essay might get a pretty good grade. The same essay padded out will lose marks.
• Don’t use slang in essays, unless quoting a book.
• Redundancy – make it clear the first time.
Structure in an essay is vital. Each paragraph leads into the next. Early paragraphs provide the information needed to understand the latter paragraphs. The article finishes with a sense of completion.
• Long paragraphs look tedious. Put space in there whenever possible.
• Shorter sentences tend to be easier for the reader. Yet occasionally a long but well-written sentence is quite effective.
• Speculation is almost never appropriate. You must have solid grounds for opinions, beliefs and assertions. You might point out a loose end in a narrative, an unexplained action and say this is open to speculation. But you cannot just make up a reason for the unexplained. You are not the author of the source material/
• Grammar is important, though there will be an odd situation when a split infinitive sounds better. Star Trek’s ‘To boldly go where no one has gone before,’ sound better the ‘To go boldly where no one has gone before’.
• A good introduction that captures the reader’s attention and whets their interest in the essay, can make all the difference. A good conclusion is also vital. The difference between a credit and a distinction might be due to a good introduction and conclusion.

For Fiction Writing – High School Writing Sydney

• Structure is important in a narrative. It is rarely linear. One version of a story starts with the person getting out of bed, going through a routine, and ending up as a soldier in a battle. A better version of the same story starts later in the tale, having the soldier poised to fire the first shot, and then explaining the details that led up to this event.
• Dialogue tags are tricky. Sometimes ‘said’ appears several times on a page, yet it is unobtrusive. At other times ‘he said’ ‘she said’ becomes monotonous. Try to write without these tags. ‘Over here’, Charles signalled to them. ‘It was down there all the time. We missed the obvious.’
• The ‘show don’t tell’ idea is close, but not quite right. Sometimes we tell information, and more often we show what is going on. A better understanding is to give the character’s experience, not a technical description. ‘He was sanguine when not acquiescent to hierarchical considerations’ sounds bland and pretentious at the same time. ‘He would have spoken out, objected, but he had seen that hard look in the judge’s eye before’ give us the character’s experience, reaction to the situation and motive in one sentence.

High School Writing Sydney

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