Tag Archives: phrases

Writing Tips

I found a scribbled, hastily assembled, crumpled piece of paper simply titled “Tips” in my desk today.

As far as I recall, it was the product of grading a set of essays a couple years ago on the novel Wild Geese by Martha Ostenso.

A common practice of mine after reading/marking a set of essays is to assemble a list of “pet peeves,” or writing errors, or tips that emerge from the set.

Here is the list:

  • practice writing a thesis/topic statement that can be parsed
  • the inclusion of a detail must support it’s purpose
  • structure, connect, state clearly, order, each subtopic as it develops the thesis
  • avoid “if…then” as logical proofs of what is
  • when discussing technique, consider the degree of complexity
  • avoid pronoun shifts: “you”
  • avoid plot summary
  • develop a Linking Lexicon
  • avoid dropped quotes
  • No X=X (see Rule 3 of 6):
    “These things…”, “There is nothing…”, “… shows us something important…”, “In this essay…”, “Many examples…”, “The quote…”, “In the book…”, “On page…”, “… the same thing…”, “I don’t think…”, “This is the end of my essay…”, “She was herself…”, “As a human…”, “… the way it did…”, “… start doing things…”, “… many times…”, “After reading…”, “I will be writing…”, “These symbols are the things…”, “… good with the bad…”, “It made things…”, “They did what he told them to do…”, “Her true feelings…”, “… an effective way…”, “… a secret way…”, “… the way…”, “… many ways…”, “… a different way…”, “… it speaks…”, “We, as readers…”, “… finished reading…”, “… the ideas of…”, “… something in the end.”

This invasion of one’s mind by ready-made phrases [X=X] can only be prevented if one is constantly on guard against them, and every such phrase anaesthetizes a portion of one’s brain. George Orwell