Example and rules Editing the Essay, Part One

Example and rules Editing the Essay, Part One

Anyone who has gone through the ecstasies and agonies of writing an essay knows the satisfaction (and sometimes the sadness) of finishing. Once you have done most of the work of figuring out what you need to state, coming to an arguable and interesting thesis, analyzing your evidence, organizing your ideas, and contending with counter-arguments, you may believe that you have nothing left to accomplish but run spell-check, print it out and await your professor’s response. But what spell- check can not discern is really what real readers might think or feel once they read your essay: where they might become confused, or annoyed, or bored, or distracted. Anticipating those responses may be the working job of an editor—the job you take on as you edit your personal work.

While you proceed, remember that sometimes what might appear like a small problem can mask (be a symptom of) a more substantial one. A poorly-worded phrase—one that seems, say, unclear or vague—may just need some tweaking to fix; nonetheless it may indicate that your thinking hasn’t developed fully yet, you are not exactly sure what you want to state. Your language might be vague or confusing since the idea itself is. So learning, as Yeats says, to “cast a eye that is cold on your own prose isn’t just a matter of arranging the finishing touches on the essay. It’s about making your essay better from the inside (clarifying and deepening your opinions and insights) and through the outside (expressing those ideas in powerful, lucid, graceful prose). These five guidelines will help.

Read your essay aloud .

We can sometimes lose sight of the larger picture, of how all the sentences sound when they’re read quickly one after the other, as your readers will read them when we labor over sentences. Once you read out loud, your ear will pick up some of the problems your eye might miss.

While you read your essay, recall the “The Princess in addition to Pea,” the story of a princess so sensitive she was bothered by just one pea buried underneath the pile of mattresses she lay upon. As an editor, you need to end up like the princess—highly tuned in to anything 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 type for the problem. It’s likely that, if something bothers you only a little, it shall bother your readers a whole lot.

Make sure all your words are doing work that is important making your argument .

Are typical of one’s words and phrases necessary? Or will they be just taking up space? Are your sentences tight and sharp, or are they loose and dull? Do not say in three sentences what you could say in one single, and do not use 14 words where five will do. You prefer every word in your sentence to incorporate as meaning that is much inflection as you possibly 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. In place of “says,” would you use a word like argues, acknowledges, contends, believes, reveals, suggests, or claims? Words like these not merely make your sentences more lively and interesting, they offer useful information: if you tell your readers that someone “acknowledges” something, that deepens their comprehension of how or why he or she said that thing; “said” merely reports.

3. Bear in mind the idea of le mot juste. Always look for the right words, the most precise and specific language, to say that which you mean. Without using concrete, clear language, you can’t convey to your readers precisely what you think about a subject; it is possible to only speak in generalities, and everyone has already heard those: “The evils of society are a drain on our resources.” Sentences such as 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 just what you think, what you need certainly to say.

If you’re having problems putting your finger on just the right word, consult a thesaurus, but simply to remind yourself of one’s options. Never choose words whose connotations or usual contexts you don’t really understand. Using language you are unfamiliar with may cause more imprecision—and that may lead your reader to question your authority.

4. Beware of inappropriately elevated language—words and phrases that are stilted, pompous, or jargony. Sometimes, in order to sound more reliable or authoritative, or more sophisticated, we puff up our prose with this particular sort of language. Usually we only end up sounding like we’re trying to sound smart—which is a sure sign to our readers that individuals’re not. If you find yourself inserting words or phrases because you think they’ll sound impressive, reconsider. In case your ideas are good, you should not strain for impressive language; if they’re not, that language won’t help anyway.

Inappropriately language that is elevated derive from nouns getting used as verbs. Most elements of speech function better—more elegantly—when the roles are played by them these people were designed to play; nouns work very well as nouns and verbs as verbs. See the following sentences aloud, and tune in to how pompous they sound.

He exited the space. It is important that proponents and opponents of the bill dialogue about its contents before voting on it.

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

The room was left by him. People should debate the advantages and cons of the bill before voting.

From time to time, though, this can be a rule worth breaking, such as “He muscled his solution to the front regarding the line.” “Muscled” gives us lots of information that might otherwise take words that are several even sentences to state. And as https://essay-911.com/ it’s not awkward to see, but lively and descriptive, readers will not mind the temporary shift in roles as “muscle” becomes a verb.

5. Be tough in your most dazzling sentences. 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. All of us are guilty when trying to sneak in our favorite sentences where they don’t really belong, because we can not bear to cut them. But writers that are great ruthless and will throw out brilliant lines if they are not any longer relevant or necessary. They know that readers will be less struck by the brilliance than because of the inappropriateness of those sentences and they allow them to go.

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