Monthly Archives: April 2014

7 Writing Tips You Will Never Hear in College

Writing Tips College

Most students learn how to write by composing essays, term papers and research projects for history, literature, political science and other classes. Writing classes themselves tend to be filled with people who already love to write and who simply want to find ways to hone their craft more fully.

While there’s nothing wrong with being attracted to the writing life, others simply need to find ways to compose papers that communicate effectively and stand out just enough to score a few extra points. There are plenty of standard tips on how to write more effectively, but here we’ve unearthed seven unconventional tips you won’t likely hear from your professors, but which can easily help you impress them.

1. Play to Your Strengths on Subjects

The old adage of ‘write what you know’ may work for struggling artists, but college students don’t always have that option. When your class is studying the colonization of the Americas, you can’t exactly turn in a paper about how to survive a zombie apocalypse. However, usually students are able to choose which specific story or slice of history their paper will focus on in addition to the type of paper it is. For example, early American history may still be new to you, but you can use your interest in post-apocalyptic movies to write about the challenges, obstacles and life threatening viral outbreaks settlers had to contend with.

2. Find Your Voice

When writing an essay, you’ll typically choose between writing a narrative, descriptive, expository or persuasive paper. In some cases, the tone of the paper may be assigned, but when you have the opportunity to choose the type of paper yourself, once again, play to your strengths. If you grew up arguing with brothers and sisters, a persuasive essay will be an easy approach for you. Conversely, if you’ve been described as having a Vulcan-like personality, an expository essay will allow you to deliver the facts and leave readers with the opportunity to draw their own conclusions. Choosing the right approach and the right topic can make your essay writing experience much easier.

3. Go Old School

The most difficult part of any writing project can be simply getting started. Recent studies in the field of neuroscience have suggested that writing in longhand stimulates different areas of the brain and can even have an impact on editing and even writing style. One study asked participants to write creatively both in longhand and using a keyboard. Participants changed the style in which they wrote with each change. Overall, writing in longhand appears to encourage more creative thinking and brainstorming than typing on a keyboard.

4. Watch the Jargon

Writing on a difficult or complicated subject at the college level lends itself to using plenty of jargon. Although you want to establish that you understand the subject and the field you’re writing in, stuffing an essay with too much jargon can cloud your message and make it hard for readers to understand what you’re saying. You don’t need to impress your professor with a jargon filled paper. Instead, use industry related terms and phrases sparingly and prove that you can discuss this complex issue or intricate topic in a way that makes it accessible and easy to understand for any audience.

5. You Don’t Have to Start at the Beginning

It’s human nature to feel as though we need to start at the beginning but writing doesn’t work that way. Sometimes you’ll know where you want to end up, so beginning with your conclusion gives you the chance to set the stage for your destination, then you just need to get there. Other times, you’ll have the perfect wording for the body of your essay even though you have no idea how you want to begin or where your essay may lead. That’s fine – start with what you know or where you feel more comfortable, the rest will come naturally as you write.

6. Write Drunk, Edit Sober

This bit of advice was originally made famous by Ernest Hemingway, who also warned that “The first version of anything is shit.” The art of writing has long been linked to the love of drinking and, for some, it’s the best way to loosen their tongue and get those creative juices flowing. Drinking lowers inhibitions and silences your critic long enough for you to pound out that all important first draft. Once you’ve gotten the bones of your essay written down, begin tweaking and revising at least a day later.

7. Read Out Loud

Reading through your final draft a few times is pretty standard advice. Reading through that final draft out loud, however, can highlight clumsy phrasing and awkward word choices that would otherwise get glossed over. Read your paper aloud or, better yet, have someone else read it for you. If they stumble over something or pause as they’re reading, chances are you need to tighten up your wording.

How to Use Comma in a Sentence with Because

comma in a sentence with because

Communicating effectively is as much about punctuation as it is about vocabulary. Knowing which words help you to express yourself clearly is important, but how the message gets across can be hugely impacted by choices in punctuation.

Understanding this and mastering proper grammar usage can help to make communication more effective and more entertaining since it frees you up to express yourself with clarity and humor. In many cases, understanding basics, such as comma usage, is fairly straightforward. Sometimes, however, it can become a tricky issue, depending on the words you want to use.

Because, Commas And How They Go Together

Understanding when to use a comma when using because means understanding exactly what you want to say. Simply put, comma placement can determine the message your writing conveys. Consider these two examples:

Michael did not win, because he changed lanes.

Michael did not win because he changed lanes.

In the first example, Michael lost because he chose to change lanes during the race. In the second example, however, the meaning is less clear. Did Michael lose because he changed lanes? Or did he win, but for some reason other than changing lanes? In this case, using a comma makes the sentence more readable and helps to improve clarity.

A sentence beginning with the word ‘because’ will often require a comma as a way of separating the two independent, but connected, clauses. Because we use so many sentence structures, it is important to understand how grammar helps to improve communication. See how that works? In this example, the use of a comma is the same as it would be for any other sentence – it simply makes the sentence read better.

Because Changes! Linguistic Evolution in Action

The word because has evolved from a simple conjunction to a prepositional phrase. The used of ‘because’ with a noun, as in “I didn’t get my paper done in time because Internet” has become increasingly popular thanks to internet memes and online usage in order to assign blame or determine an origin. A few examples include:

  • Evolution is real, because science.
  • I made this picture because procrastination.
  • Students today can’t spell, because spell-checker.
  • No work Monday because holidays!

This new and evolving use of the word ‘because’, referred to commonly as ‘Because + Noun’ brings with it a whole new level of comma usage – one that hasn’t fully been worked out yet. As a rule, this new usage doesn’t hit the mark in terms of proper usage for papers, tests and essays. Watching how this new usage evolves, however, gives people the chance to see linguistic evolution in action, much in the same way people were able to see the evolution of ‘friend’ from common noun to verb after the advent of ‘friending’ someone through social media.

Using a comma in a sentence which uses ‘because’ as a conjunction is determined by the message you want to convey. Simply put, when ‘because’ is used to establish information which cannot be separated from the main idea, leave the sentence comma free. A comma should be used in order to improve readability and meaning or to separate two independent, but connected, sentences. As with any sentence, the inclusion or exclusion of a comma can later the meaning significantly, so read it both ways in order to determine if your comma is necessary.