Writing Tip of the Month
The essence of good writing boils down to three elements:
Simplify: Good writing says the most in the least amount of words. Complex, run-on sentences are usually difficult to read.
Focus: Maintain your focus. Very few writers have successfully used the stream-of-consciousness technique, where they simply write whatever comes to mind. Don't try it unless you think it's absolutely the best way to communicate your point. Just ask yourself: does this phrase/sentence/paragraph enhance my point? If not, cut it.
Practice: Read, read, read! Reading published authors is absolutely the best way to get a feel for what good writers do. Write, write, write! The more you write, the more you'll get a sense of your own style, and your own strengths/weaknesses.
In formal writing, professors don't often like to see contractions. If you do use contractions, make sure they're correct! Don't say 'there correct' ['there' indicates location] or 'their correct' ['their' indicates possession]. Your grade will be higher when you're using the proper contraction!
When you get a chance, READ! There is no better way to improve your writing skills than to read those who have mastered language.
A proofreading tip: try reading your paper aloud. It will force you to read more slowly; by reading aloud, you will catch errors that you often miss while reading silently.
Know Your Audience! This is one of the most important aspects of writing: whether you're writing an e-mail to your boss, a persuasive essay for a magazine, or a doctoral thesis to be presented before a panel of experts; always keep your audience in mind. Every style of writing will have a different feel to it. Make sure that your writing style is appropriate to the genre.