As I have tutored over time via instant messaging, certain problems come up again and again among the students that I have taught English writing to. As I have corrected student essays over the past few years online, I have developed this set of advice for writers with less experience. Much of this advice is influenced by Strunk & White's and Payne, so I don't claim much originality here.
General organizational advice for essays:
1. Don’t take the reader’s attention for granted. In the introduction, use attention-getting devices, such as a set of leading questions, interesting statistics, a famous quote from a famous person, a striking assertion or claim, etc. The following sentences in the first paragraph should narrow down the topic to the more specific point made in the thesis.
2. Always put the thesis statement, or main point to be proven or explained, at the end of the first paragraph. Aim to write it as a single sentence, not two...
If English is your second language and you would like another pair of eyes to
review your final research paper prior to submission, please contact me. I'm available
online, via email, and for those graduate students located in Central Florida, in person. I've assisted many nursing professionals, whose second language is English, to achieve an A on a final research project. My experience includes reviewing papers written for online graduate courses, papers written in group collaboration, rough drafts (minimum 5 pages with draft in-text citations and draft bibliography, plus copies of supporting research articles), and final research papers. I can consult with you at any stage during your research and writing process. I've even helped students breakthrough challenges such as
writer's block and brainstormed ideas for research projects!
Sometimes writers feel overwhelmed and I can help by reviewing the professor's rubric, writing assignment criteria, and any email...
English. Writing. Creative. Analytical. Technical Writing. Reading. Need to advance your career? Blow your boss away? Get an A? I can help. I do online tutoring and in-person circa 22304 in libraries/public places.
In today's Writing Rundown, I want to leave the brainstorming process for a bit and discuss responding to a prompt. Take a look at the prompt I used for my last Literature Spotlight, “The Blanks Left Empty”:
AP Literature Open-Ended Prompt, 1975, #2:
Unlike the novelist, the writer of a play does not use his own voice and only rarely uses a narrator’s voice to guide the audience’s responses to character and action. Select a play you have read and write an essay in which you explain the techniques the playwright uses to guide his audience’s responses to the central characters and the action. You might consider the effect on the audience of things like setting, the use of comparable and contrasting characters, and the characters’ responses to each other. Support your argument with specific references to the play. Do not give a plot summary.
Whew! That's a lot of information to sift through. Unfortunately, many high school and college-level writing prompts are as...
I used to teach engineers how to write. I loved it, but it was challenge; engineers are infamous for arguing a point into the ground.
Whenever I taught them Plain Language and urged them to use it, the hair would bristle on the backs of their necks. Generally, the course of events to follow went something like this.
• Using Plain Language would be writing down to their readers
• Making their writing understandable wasn’t necessary, because their audiences already understood the subject matter
• Writing technical documents has always been done this way
• This wasn’t the way they were taught to write
After which, I stand in front of them. I look at them. I finally speak. I say, “Your teachers were wrong.” And, just short of rending of garments and gnashing of teeth, all hell breaks loose. (Did I mention that engineers love to argue?)
Nevertheless, I continue. “It’s all because of a bunch of ancient Roman rhetoricians...
Last week in my
Literature Spotlight, I discussed the idea of science-fiction as a reflection of the time period in which it was written. For this week's Writing Rundown, let's take a look at my brainstorming process.
As I mentioned in this blog post, there are many ways to brainstorm for a project. For this one, I decided to use a technique I hardly ever use myself: free-writing. Free-writing is a great tool for projects for which you have the beginnings of a lot of ideas bouncing around in your head, but none are quite fleshed out enough for you to contemplate their connections. It generally requires another form of prewriting such as a word cloud or outline to get it into a state that helps you write the essay, but it's a great place to start.
So, as a brief recap: in freewriting, sometimes called “stream-of-consciousness” writing, you put your pen down on a blank piece of paper and just start writing – and you don't stop writing for at least ten or fifteen...
Prompt: Explain the popularity of Science Fiction. Use at least one work from this genre to explain its appeal.
Science fiction is one of my favorite genres. I love it (and I suspect many of its readers love it) because despite its trappings of the future, good science fiction is very much a reflection of the time period in which it is written. One of Sci-Fi's major draws for me is that it can highlight and discuss social issues that might be touchy to talk about in the present day. Through the skillful use of spaceships, aliens, utopian planet colonies, and other 'flight-of-fancy' scenarios, a science fiction author can hold a mirror up to the way our current society deals with an issue by showing how their fictional society does. By reading sci-fi from previous eras, then, we can catch a glimpse of what people of that era were thinking about – and what was considered an acceptable 'flight of fancy.'
The Skylark of Space, written by E. E. 'Doc' Smith in the...
Here is a sample proofreading checklist which I created for one of my English Language Learner (ELL) students. It is not an exhaustive list, because it is targeted to her most frequent errors.
Did I check…
? Microsoft Office Spelling and Grammar check?
? Spelling of proper nouns (specific people, places, things?)
? Example: President Barack Obama
? Circle all the verbs?
? Check subject/verb agreement?
? Check the verb:
3. Sentence Structure
? Correct any sentences that are too long?
o Add a good variety of short and long sentences?
? Put a box around each punctuation mark?
? Check apostrophes?
o They should be for possessives (show ownership) or in place of a letter
? Example?: That is Joe's essay.
? Example2 : It’s (It is) a nice day.
The topic bridging sentence provides a smooth topical transition from one idea to another for the reader. It is a segue of ideas and allows for a logically relevant transition. The topic bridge sentence also challenges you as a writer to relate and connect your ideas between paragraphs in order to have a cohesive paper.Topic bridging sentences are the first sentence in body paragraphs of an essay.
What is the main idea of the preceding body paragraph?
What is the main idea of the following body paragraph?
How are they related?
Share a feature
Basic Topic Bridge Sentence
“In addition to <main idea from paragraph one>, such and such also was influenced/affected by <main idea from paragraph two>.”
Complex Topic Bridge Sentences
Connect the ideas from the two paragraphs in a more global fashion. Explain how...
Writing is a skill. Just like with any other talents--being musical, athletic, artistic, some people are just better at writing than others. That doesn't mean you can't develop writing skills. It just takes more practice!
Many of my weak writers are excellent at math. I create formulas for a thesis, topic sentence, and each paragraph. If you can remember a formula, you can write an essay. I encourage daily reading. The more we read, the more vocabulary and sentence structure we are exposed to. This works its way into the brain, and enables recall when it comes time to write.
I also encourage my students to write about what they read. We do simple things like summarizing, list questions they may have, draw or describe the setting, predict what happens next, or even come up with an alternate title for the book. All of these things help people to become better readers, and that makes us good writers...
The introductory paragraph of a paper or writing should capture the reader’s attention and engage their mind. You should always approach your papers expecting a reluctant or busy reader. Your job is to relate to them, give them useful information, and intrigue them to capture their interest. The first sentence of an introduction can be thought of as “the hook:” The sentence that grabs the mind of your reader.
Who is reading this paper (your audience)?
Is my reader sympathetic or opposed to my view?
What personal experiences or interests will my reader have?
How can I relate to the topics or things that my reader would care about?
What was the most interesting or unexpected fact that I learned?
Tone of Paper
The tone of your paper should determine the hook sentence that you use
For creative writing, you have more flexibility
For informative writings, the tone may limit the options you have
Last week in my
Literature Spotlight, I explored the connections between humanity, free will and morality in Anthony Burgess's
A Clockwork Orange. For this week's Writing Rundown, I thought I'd share with you my brainstorming process.
As I mentioned in
this blog post, there are many different ways to brainstorm for a project. For this one, I chose to use a Word Cloud. I chose the Word Cloud because it's a much more flexible and organic method than going straight for an outline, and I was anticipating this particular topic being tricky to organize. All of the ideas bouncing around in my head were interconnected, and I felt a Word Cloud would help me sort them out and figure out the best way to structure my essay.
In the center of the page, I began with the phrase “Loss of Free Will.” I knew that was the central key to my current thought process – that the loss of free will was what actually affected the main character's humanity, far more than any other...
Meta-cognition is thinking about thinking, and higher levels tend to be associated with intelligence and - in the parlance of the times - high income and job satisfaction. So, to keep things simple: if you think that you might struggle with learning concepts in statistics or research methods, then get in touch with a tutor early. It's important to establish some type of relationship so you can evaluate their style, methods, and how likely it is that you'll be successful within their approach. If you wait too long, or right before an assignment is upon you, you may be stuck with a limited number of tutors that you are forced to work with.
Prevention through establishing early contact will help you iron out details, assess a match in learning and tutoring styles, and prepare for mastering any difficult concept.
Don't wait - contact tutors before it's too late!
I specialize in teaching essay structure and style. When I began tutoring, I had a vague idea that I'd work with college students like the friends for whom I'd proofread during university: young Americans who've grown up in a public school system which emphasized group work over individual learning, and who therefore never got a chance to develop their writing skills.
I've certainly worked with students from a background very much like this. However, I've also had the pleasure of building a strong ESL clientele. At this point, I've spent enough time with ESL students to have made some observations about the nature of ESL learning and the way it is discussed. I'm certainly no expert, but by now I am a reliable dilettante. I speak with the authority of firsthand experience. From that vantage, I'd like to address one mistake which is frequently made in conversations about ESL learning. It is a very serious mistake and I have to believe that it muddles teachers' thinking considerably...
As a tutor, I enjoy helping students understand their assignments, improve their academic performance, or prepare for standardized tests, but I'd be hesitant to say I actually like standardized tests.
But I've tempered my perspective concerning standardized tests because of the revised Advanced Placement U.S. History exam. It does have a multiple choice "just the facts" section, but now half of one's grade is based on the ability to demonstrate critical thinking, and applying one's knowledge and thinking creatively.
For example, the Document-Based Question essay provides five to seven primary sources: these could be Executive (Presidential) Orders, speeches, laws, political cartoons, photographs, propaganda posters, and images of historical artifacts. One sample question, which required that students develop an interpretation of the perceptual and cognitive mindset of American culture during the Cold War, had a reproduction of an advertisement...
Have you ever wondered what spelling bee champs know about spelling? I have, and my research led me straight to the
31 spelling rules as taught in the Logic of English method. These simple yet powerful rules explain 98% of English words when coupled with
74 phonograms. While that may not be enough to win an elite spelling bee, its a huge step forward for everyday literacy.
The 31 rules are posted here:
https://www.logicofenglish.com/resources/spelling-rules. While most are remarkably simple, they are quite powerful. Consider how the very first rule explains the answers to these tricky word equations:
picnic + ing = picnicking
notice + able = noticeable
Rule 1 states that "C always softens to /s/ when followed by E, I, or Y. Otherwise, C says /k/." Thus, picnicking gets its K because without it, the word would say /picnising/. Likewise, noticeable retains its E because without it, the word would say /notikable/.
Looking for a second pair of eyes to review your final research papers for this semester? Please review my profile and contact me. I have extensive experience working with ESL writers and I specialize in nursing school (through graduate level) research paper review. My schedule is flexible and I can coach any writer online as well as via email and in person.
With South University and UCF's nursing programs in Orlando, I have worked with many nurses in Central Florida who are struggling to attain a master's degree while working full-time in the nursing profession. Hats off to all health care professionals, but especially these dedicated men and women, who want to achieve higher education. I also provide academic support online and via email for all writers for any writing project, creative and technical topics. Please review my profile for more details.
Contact me today to see how I can provide academic support during your graduate nursing career...
Want to be published? I am the editor of three on-line science journals, published through the CK-12 Foundation (www.ck12.org).
These journals, Understanding Biodiversity, Profiles in Science (early 2016), and Current Trends in the Biomedical Sciences (late 2016) are opportunities for students to become published.
I am available to assist students nationwide through the research, writing and publishing process - just sent me an email to find out more.
We've all had those days when the sun is shining beautifully, and we're stuck inside at a desk. Wouldn’t it be great to find places to write, or study, that actually capitalized on all that vitamin D and felt inspiring and comfortable enough for effective work?
Here are four outdoor venues that can help aid in creativity and success:
1. Coffee shops. Coffee and tea shops are great choices if you’re communal and don’t get too easily distracted by the hubbub. One suggestion is to claim a table outside—in the sunshine if you’re writing or in the shade if you’re on a laptop. This way, you get some fresh air and a taste of what’s going on in the world, yet there are less distractions.
2. Parks. Picnic blankets are your best friend when it comes to park writing time, as are big beach towels and camp chairs. Personally, with chronic back pain, I’ve laid out on a blanket in the sun for a good hour or two before rotating...
I’m not prone to exaggeration, but when it comes to the words moreover and furthermore, I can safely say that I would rather poke myself in the eye with a sharp stick if it meant that never again would I have to hear them misused in everyday English conversations with Russian speakers.
I see why they come up so often. They both appear, on the surface, to be sweetly analogous to the often-used term ????? ???? and, to Russian speakers of English, it probably feels like it is a suitable upgrade from plain old ‘and’. The problem is that using them in everyday conversations can make you sound, at best, overblown or pretentious and, at worst, vaguely threatening.
That said, as with everything, there is a time and a place for introducing these words. They carry with them, a level of accuracy in meaning which other ‘plainer terms, may not have. We just need to make sure that we understand exactly when and where to use the word; and that the right time and place is...