?Editing the Essay, Part A person
Anyone who has gone through the ecstasies and agonies of producing an essay knows the satisfaction (and every now and then the sadness) of finishing. Once you've done all the job of figuring out what you need to say, arriving at an arguable and interesting thesis, analyzing your evidence, organizing your ideas, and contending with counter-arguments, you may think that you've got nothing left to do but run spell-check, print it out and await your professor's response. But what spell- check can't discern is what real readers would possibly think or believe when they look at your essay: where they could very well become confused, or annoyed, or bored, or distracted. Anticipating those responses is the job of an editor-the job you take on as you edit your have function.
As you proceed, remember that now and then what may look like a little problem can mask (be a symptom of) a larger an individual. A poorly-worded phrase-one that would seem, say, unclear or vague-may just desire some tweaking to fix; however it may indicate that your thinking hasn't developed fully yet, that you're not rather sure what you must say. Your language may be vague or confusing given that the idea itself is. So learning, as Yeats says, to "cast a cold eye" on your prose isn't just a matter of arranging the finishing touches on your essay. It's about making your essay more beneficial from the inside (clarifying and deepening your ideas and insights) and from the outside the house (expressing those ideas in powerful, lucid, graceful prose). These 5 guidelines can help.
1. Read through your essay aloud. When we labor over sentences, we can oftentimes lose sight with the larger picture, of how all the sentences sound when they're go through speedily a person after one other, as your readers will read through them. In case you scan aloud, your ear will pick up several of the problems your eye would miss.
As you examine your essay, remember the "The Princess and also Pea," the story of the princess so sensitive she was bothered by only one pea buried beneath the pile of mattresses she lay upon. As an editor, you ought to be like the princess-highly alert to anything that appears to be slightly odd or "off" in the prose. So if something strikes you as problematic, don't gloss over it. Investigate to uncover the nature for the problem. Chances are, if something bothers you a minor, it will bother your readers a lot.
two. Make sure all of your words are doing important perform in making your argument. Are all of your words and phrases necessary? Or are they just taking up place? Are your sentences tight and sharp, or are they loose and dull? Don't say in three sentences what you can still say in a single, and don't use 14 words where 5 will do. You choose every word within your sentence to include as a lot of meaning and inflection as plausible. If you see phrases like "My have personal opinion," ask yourself what "own personal" adds. Isn't that what "my" usually means?
Even modest, apparently unimportant words like "says" are worth your attention. Instead of "says," could you utilize a word like argues, acknowledges, contends, believes, reveals, suggests, or statements? Words like these not only make your sentences a whole lot more lively and interesting, they furnish useful intel: should you tell your readers that someone "acknowledges" something, that deepens their understanding of how or why he or she stated that thing; "said" merely reports.
3. Keep in mind the concept of le mot juste . Always try to look for the perfect words, essentially the most precise and exact language, to say what you mean. Without by making use of concrete, clear language, you can't convey to your readers exactly what you think about a subject; you'll only speak in generalities, and anybody has previously heard those: "The evils of society are a drain on our resources." Sentences like this could mean so some things that they finish up meaning nothing whatsoever to your readers-or meaning something very different from what you intended. Be certain: What evils? Which societies? What resources? Your readers are reading your words to see what you think, what you be required to say.
If you're having trouble putting your finger on just the right word, consult a thesaurus, but only to remind yourself of your possibilities. Never choose words whose connotations or usual contexts you don't really understand. Working with language you're unfamiliar with can lead to further imprecision-and that can lead your reader to question your authority.
four. Beware of inappropriately elevated language-words and phrases that are stilted, pompous, or jargony. Now and again, in an effort to sound a little more reliable or authoritative, or extra sophisticated, we puff up our prose with this sort of language. Usually we only stop up sounding like we're trying to sound smart-which can be described as sure sign to our readers that we're not. At any time you choose yourself inserting words or phrases seeing that you think they'll sound impressive, reconsider. If your ideas are reasonable, you don't will be needing to strain for impressive language; if they're not, that language won't help anyway.
Inappropriately elevated language can result from nouns being utilised as verbs. Most parts of speech purpose better-more elegantly-when they enjoy the roles they were being meant to participate in; nouns operate properly as nouns and verbs as verbs. Study the following sentences aloud, and listen to how pompous they sound.
He exited the room. It is important that proponents and opponents of this bill dialogue about its contents before voting on it.
Exits and dialogues deliver the results superior as nouns and there are plenty of ways of expressing those ideas without turning nouns into verbs.
He left the room. People should discussion the pros and cons of this bill before voting.
Every now and then, though, this is mostly a rule worth breaking, as in "He muscled his way to the front for the line." "Muscled" gives us a lot of guidance which may otherwise take several words or even sentences to express. And as it's not awkward to scan, but lively and descriptive, readers won't mind the temporary shift in roles as "muscle" becomes a verb.
5. Be tough on your most dazzling sentences. As you revise, you may get that sentences you needed in earlier drafts no longer belong-and these may be the sentences you're most fond of. We're all guilty of trying to sneak in our favorite sentences where they don't belong, considering we can't bear to cut them. But awesome writers are ruthless and will throw out brilliant lines if they're no longer relevant or necessary. They know that readers will be less struck by the brilliance than by the inappropriateness of those sentences and they let them go.
Copyright 1999, Kim Cooper, to the Producing Center at Harvard University buy a research paper online