Tag Archives: essay

How to Improve Your Writing

Geek!This is Outsanity’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

I chose to craft a tutorial (if you want to call it that) on how to make your articles more readable to human eyes. No, I’m not trying to insult anyone. Not yet, anyway. I wanted to write… well, type this because watching Chris read and react to poorly drafted articles is fun – then you almost start feeling sorry. Not for Chris, but the ones who wrote the essays. Oy vey! Chris is an English major, so errors are like his Kryptonite (in a way). I’m not perfect, but I’d like to think what little I can pass on will help someone else. Not just for this contest, but any time you’re going to write anything. I’m not Stephen King, but I know the best thing I can do to make my entry more error-proof.

  1. TYPE YOUR ESSAY IN A FULL-ON WORD PROCESSOR! There is a chance you won’t have grammatical or spelling errors in your writing, but let software help you find them before someone else does. Don’t assume that you know what goes where. Yes, you could compose in a text file but then you’ll have to do the next step.
  2. If you haven’t started, use the Spell Check feature in Microsoft Word (or whatever word processing program you use). There’s no excuse for NOT using it. Don’t have Word? You can use Google Docs or any amount of online dictionaries. Heck, there’s even http://www.spellcheck.net/ to use at your disposal. Too bad they don’t make punctuation and usage checkers, eh?
  3. Have your article proofread by someone. It’s something you should do, anyway. Not just entries for contests, but for school projects (or even for work). There’s nothing wrong with asking someone to look something over – unless it’s something bad about THEM, then you’re boned.
  4. How you type on the ‘Net should not be how you write an article. Normally, you, of all people, would more likely type like this: “i am hug fan. I need dis new computer to play mah games.” – or something worse. Please don’t do that outside of instant messages or text messages to friends.
  5. Don’t try to use big words in your article. I never know why people do this. You know you’re not that smart to fool anyone by tossing out ten-dollar words. Just keep it simple. You’re not earning any points, Mr. Fancywords.
  6. Always plan what you’re going to write. Never think you can just wing it if you’re not a seasoned writer. That only works in school. Oops! Ignore that last part. Write from your heart, but know where your heart is – and make sure it’s in sync with your brain (and, vicariously, your fingers).
  7. Eat some food. All the thinking and typing will most definitely drain your energy. The best thing to eat, other than everything, is Ramen. It’s a quick meal, easy to prepare, very filling, and extremely cheap.
  8. If your body can handle it, drink caffeine – and lots of it. Most likely, you might be writing at times when most people are asleep. Coffee, tea, soda – whatever it takes. Of course, don’t drink too much if it causes you to get jittery.
  9. Eliminate distractions. That means no TV, DVDs, or music players. They will slow you down, even as background noise. You might think you’re a multitasker, but your brain should remain focused on the task at hand if you want it to be a quality piece of work.

That all I have for now. I hope that you’ll take these words of wisdom seriously. These tips might help you become a better writer. Well, I’m hoping they will. If you suck to begin with, then all bets are off. Anyway… good luck and godspeed, my friends.

Tips for Taking Timed Essay Exams

A large number of people in our community are High School or College Students. Here is a list of tips to help you get good grades during a “timed essay” test, sent in by one of our own.

  • Plan your time wisely. This first tip may not sound all that useful. But procrastination is probably the biggest reason why bright students sometimes get poor grades. Start early. You can also plan your time during the test itself. Your professor knows which paragraphs are harder to write, and will evaluate them accordingly. Does the question ask you to “evaluate”? If so, don’t fill your page with a summary. Likewise, if the question asks for “evidence,” don’t spend all your time giving your own personal opinions.
    • Start with the larger essay questions, so that you answer them before you burn out or run out of time.
    • If one essay question is worth 50% of the test score, spend 50% of your time on it.
    • If you finish early, you can always go back and add more detail. (As long as your additions and changes are legible, your instructor will probably be happy to see signs of revision.)
  • Answer the right question. Before you begin your answer, you should be sure what the question is asking. I often grade a university composition competency test, and sometimes have to fail well-written papers that fail to address the topic the student has been given.
  • Collect your thoughts. Resist the urge to start churning out words immediately. If you are going to get anywhere in an essay, you need to know where you are going.
  • Leave time to revise. Too often, the only revision students do is crossing out their false starts, or explaining their way out of a corner by adding to the end of their essay. Sometimes, in the middle of a difficult paragraph, students will glance back at the question, and get a new idea. They will then hastily back out of their current paragraph, and provide a rough transition like: “But an even more important aspect is…”. They continue in this manner, like a builder who keeps breaking down walls to add new wings onto a house.
    • To handle this problem when it occurs, don’t automatically add to the end of an essay — write in the margins, or draw a line to indicate where you want to insert a new paragraph.
    • Leave space to revise too — write on every other line and leave the backs of pages blank, so you will have room to make legible insertions if you need to.
    • Obviously, if you are writing your test on a computer, you should just insert and rearrange text as you would normally.
  • Revise your thesis statement If inspiration strikes while you are in the middle of an essay, and your conclusion turns out to be nothing like you thought it would be, change your thesis statement to match your conclusion. (Assuming, of course, that your unexpected conclusion still addresses the assigned topic.)