Remember the Basics
Written Language and conversational language require an entirely different presentation.
Often, when children are first learning to write, teachers say, “Just write what you want to say.” Children begin their first writing assignments just writing what comes to their minds, as if they were talking to a friend. While this style might work fine in a friendly letter, or even in a fictional story, without clear definition of good English composition, their written communication rarely improves.
THE STEP-BY-STEP METHOD OF PRODUCING AN EXCELLENT PAPER!
There are basic principles of good writing which apply to all forms of written communication. Remember to keep it simple, follow the basics, and be patient. All good writing takes time. Don’t put off a writing assignment til the last minute. Time constraints can cause mental confusion. The beauty of writing (versus speaking) is that you have time to think about your words. Thus, your communication can be clear and concise, thereby making your writing purposeful to both you and the reader. Following this step-by-step method will always produce a good paper.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN TO WRITE:
1. Give yourself plenty of time to think about what you really would like to say. This is the time to let your mind wander, and let all kinds of ideas come up. Some of these ideas you will use. Some you will discard later as unnecessary or even a distraction. But allowing the mind to have all of the space it needs to create is a very important part of your writing.
2. Jot down those few ideas. This is very short. Just a few words to jog your memory when you “get into the thick” of the actual writing. Let it sit.
3. Come back to your notes when your mind is fresh. Look over your notes, and decide which ideas are the most important; which ideas help explain the important ideas; which ideas actually draw the conclusion; and which ideas aren’t necessary, and should be discarded.
4. Make a new list of notes. First, write down only the important ones. Leave plenty of space between the important ideas, so that you can add the ideas that support the big ideas. Then at the bottom write your concluding idea. You have just written your outline for your paper.
NOW IT IS TIME TO BEGIN THE ACTUAL WRITING:
1. THERE ARE THREE RULES TO FOLLOW THAT ALWAYS PRODUCE GOOD PAPERS:
TELL THEM WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO TELL THEM.
TELL THEM WHAT YOU TOLD THEM.
2. Your first paragraph is where you “tell them what you are going to tell them”. In about three concise and simple sentences tell your reader your three important ideas. In one more sentence, tell the reader what you are going to conclude.
3. Your next three paragraphs are where you “tell them.” This is where you explain the details of each of your important ideas.
4. Your last paragraph is where you “tell them what you told them.” This is where you review your important points, and draw you conclusion.
5. I know you feel like you are done! Congratulations! Unfortunately, I must say that you have only finished your first draft. Sorry about that.
6. But it is time to take a break. Taking a break is very important. Do not neglect this step.
YOUR FINAL BIG STEP: EDITING
1. Return when your mind is refreshed. Now, your role is to pretend that you are the reader, trying to understand what this person who wrote this was really trying to say.
2. The most important rule of editing is: READ THE PAPER OUT LOUD TO YOURSELF! I know this sounds ridiculous, and maybe you might think it’s embarrassing. Get over it! Reading out loud will help you to identify most of your grammatical and punctuation errors, without even thinking about grammar or punctuation! If you don’t believe me, try it. You will see for yourself how effective this simple step is.
3. As you are reading out loud, the reading will go quite smoothly when the grammar and punctuation are correct. But suddenly, somewhere along your reading, you will find yourself stumbling. When you find yourself stumbling, this is the “red light” that tells you, something is wrong with the way you have written that sentence. Stop right there! Go back, and carefully review that sentence. What do you need to change in order for that sentence to read smoothly in your own brain? It could be a change in a pronoun, or a tense, or a sentence structure. It could be a run-on sentence. It could be an incomplete sentence. You might need a comma or an apostrophe somewhere; or you might need to take one out. You might need to change the spelling of a word or two. Go back and do it, and re-do it until that part of the paper reads as smoothly as the other part. When it reads smoothly, you can be 99% sure that you have gotten it done correctly!
4. Continue reading the whole paper out loud, and making corrections as you go. When you come to the end, take another break. No, you are not quite done. But you are close.
5. When your mind is refreshed, come back to it, and READ OUT LOUD AGAIN. If it reads smoothly, you are so close, you can taste it!
THE FINAL REVIEW!
1. Rest again, and re-read looking for content. Ask yourself these most important questions:
DID I ACTUALLY SAY WHAT I INTENDED TO SAY?
2. If the answer is no, then you must return to the very beginning, of your creative thinking. If you take the patience to do this until the thoughts are brilliant and the logic is clear, then you will see clearly, where you need to make content correction. The writing will be smooth, and much easier than you think it might, in order to make these corrections. Then follow all the other steps, until the answer to this last all important question is a resounding, “YES!!!”
3. If the answer to this question is yes, then CONGRATULATIONS, YOU HAVE WRITTEN A BEAUTIFUL PAPER!
About The Author
|TEFL, English Comp, Academics, & The Performing Ar|
|Teaching is my life. I have taught children in both the public and private sectors, and have been an innovator in adult education. My journey began with my credential as a cum laude graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Education several decades ago. This degree qualifies me to teach all subject...|