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❶Just write, for the above, Mary McGregory discusses the last act of Hamlet.

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Difficulties with Writing

Avoid using filler in your citations: The reader can see that "The Triumph of Time" is an article because the title is in quotes; if it were a book, it would be in italics. But why does the reader need to know the title in any case?

Include the title only if the location of the reference has something to do with your argument e. Just write, for the above, Mary McGregory discusses the last act of Hamlet. That's all you're saying. Only propaganda sends "a message"—and even then it is very difficult to control meaning so tightly that only one "message" is sent.

It is odd, in this age of the individual, to find students automatically reducing a complex work of art to a single statement—as if everybody who read a text found the same "message" in it; as if the "message" one person found were the only "message" to be found.

Do you really think so? There are better ways to address the main point you think the author is making, the argument the author makes, the author's rhetorical objective, and so on. As soon as you get away from the mechanical model sends a message , you have to think about what you want to say the author is doing.

Characters are tools; you should think of a character as an "it," not a "he" or a "she. If you think "identify with" means anything else, you're suggesting that you think literary characters are real people. Literary characters might have been real people once, but they aren't when you are reading about them.

In general, trite expressions are revealing of an uncritical disposition. For example, people may "iron out their differences," may "drift apart," may find revising their essays "as easy as rolling off a log. Your language should be appropriate to your subject, and it should be your own. Combining sentences Combine short sentences into longer, more varied structures; avoid choppy effects. Example of choppy effects: It developed from the evasion of responsibility for decades.

Now the price has to be paid. We must come to terms with the it. Now we have to pay the price. Comma Splices Independent clauses, or complete sentences, should not be strung together with commas.

A comma cannot ordinarily separate two independent clauses i. That error is called a "comma splice. Or, remembering that variety in sentence length and rhythm is important, use subordination: Dangling modifier A modifier dangles when it does not modify the noun which immediately follows it.

You might as well have written, "Looking out the window, the leaves began to fall" or "Sitting in the bathtub, the telephone rang. Keep these admittedly silly examples in mind, especially if your sentence is something like, "Reading the poem carefully, irony shows what the author intended.

Documentation Be sure that you understand the documentation system, MLA, used in this course; never manufacture your own style for notation. If you do not understand the system we are using, please ask; you are assumed to understand and have a copy of the Department of English statement on use of sources. Be warned that documentation is expected whenever you cite some else's words or ideas. There are ample warnings on the syllabus about fair use of other people's work and academic dishonesty.

You are responsible for asking questions if you are unsure about fair use of sources; you cannot plead ignorance. By attending class once and signing in, you indicate that you understand and agree to abide by Department and University regulations on use of sources.

See the Department of English website for examples of what is and what is not the correct use of sources. The reader should not have to guess what your "it" refers to or where your "there" can be found. Sometimes it is not easy to avoid the dummy subject—perhaps this sentence is a case in point, but I could have written, "Sometimes the dummy subject is not easily avoided"—a bit shorter and more compact.

Learn how to omit needless words and get to the point. For "She fell down due to the fact that she hurried" write "She fell because she hurried. But being concise does not mean being abrupt; say only what needs saying, but say all that needs to be said.

Note too that wordiness may result from uncertainty about what you want to say. Learn to recognize this "exploratory style" as a stage in writing a good sentence, as part of the process, but not the final form. Revise the evasive, indecisive quality out of your prose. Emphasis Structure sentences so that the important words and ideas stand out. Put important ideas and words in slots which stress their value.

Sometimes by reversing the order of clauses you can shift the focus of the sentence to the main idea away from a less important one. For example, "We learn that he values nothing more than success when we see him kill his own brother. Evidence Your paper must supply evidence for your argument. If you think a passage reveals an important idea about the aspect of the work you discuss, you should cite it.

Just as it's important to avoid paraphrasing a work summing up its plot , it's important to select evidence carefully don't string quotes together one after another to fill up space with redundant examples.

Your paper must argue the details of the text, not general ideas; the more detailed the evidence, the more persuasive the case.

Your evidence will reveal your sensitivity to language and how authors use it. Sentence fragments A fragment is a group of words or a phrase a dependent clause used as if it were a complete sentence an independent clause.

A fragment can be a dependent clause—a clause which must depend on, be connected to, a main or independent clause to form a complete sentence. Sometimes fragments are used for effect—as in "She left the house in good order. Or so she thought.

Generalizations General statements have the unexpected effect of undercutting the writer's authority and causing the reader to question his or her judgment. General statements tend to be abstract, categorical, and liable to be false.

Nominalization Reduce wordiness by writing with strong verbs rather than weak verbs and nouns. Verbs should convey the main idea and action of the sentence.

Using nouns to name actions and weak verbs when strong verbs could carry the action and meaning of the sentence is called "nominalization. As in any academic area, teachers and parents must watch carefully and try to understand an individual child's strengths and weaknesses to ensure progress.

One way to monitor progress is through collecting a portfolio of a child's work over time. This may help in identifying a problem early on and developing effective strategies.

Mel Levine explains how Nathan Suggs' ideas outpace his ability to get them on paper. Nathan's output problem focuses a lot on writing, which is the most common and demanding -- particularly at his age -- example of output.

And for Nathan, he runs out of steam when he writes, he has motor difficulty with writing. He's a good linguist, so it's not the language part of writing that's impeding him.

In fact, his verbal output so far exceeds what his fingers can do that his engine gets flooded when he tries to write. He also has difficulty mobilizing the mental effort needed for writing, and he has tremendous difficulty organizing an output -- conducting the orchestra. You know, almost any project you undertake, whether it's a writing activity or something else, is the pulling together of multiple components: How am I going to pull together spelling, punctuation, capitalization, my prior knowledge, my new ideas, letter formation?

How am I going to remember the directions that the teacher gave while I'm doing that? How am I going to organize all this so that it has a beginning, a middle, and an end?

Incorrect Plural and Possessive Nouns Example: Wrong End Punctuation Example: What are you doing. What are you doing? Not Forming Compound Sentences Example: Tom likes baseball his friend likes hockey.

Tom likes baseball, but his friend likes hockey. Lack of Commas in a Series Example: How Parents Can Help There are many ways you can help your children enjoy and improve their writing. Time4Writing Tackles Elementary Writing Problems Time4Writing currently offers three writing courses designed especially for elementary school students. Our online writing courses provide highly effective writing instruction and skills reinforcement. Elementary school students work one-on-one with an experienced, certified teacher with the goal of mastering the fundamentals of writing, step-by-step.

With over 1, students served, Time4Writing has ample proof that writing problems can be overcome. He really enjoys the feedback and finally believes that he is a good writer. Thanks to Time4Writing for unlocking his potential.


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