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Basic Writing Skills and Structure.

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by

Thomas Wheeler

on 9 March 2017

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Transcript of Basic Writing Skills and Structure.

Our Objective
Over the course of this session, we will be establishing the basic checklist that needs to be addressed when writing an essay.

This will then be the foundation for the remainder of this programme of sessions in which we will aim to develop all aspects of your writing, both in the general level, and with respect to the Assessment Objectives required.
The first thing to reconsider is what the essay form is there to do.

Why do we use essays?

This may seem patronising but I think a lot of essay related problems come from a misunderstanding of the purpose of your writing.
Essays

Every
essay needs to have an over-arching argument that links all the strands together in order to present a coherent answer to the question

It is sometimes difficult to determine how to phrase an argument, especially when you aren't given a question mark!

This is especially the case in essays asking you to 'compare' or 'discuss'
What is your essay trying to achieve?
Does my introduction:
Set the question/topic against a wider background?
Clarify my understanding of the question/topic?
Define key or problematic terms?
Outline the approach I will be taking?

Does the main body of the essay:
Present my key points clearly?
Develop an argument in a logical sequence?
Systematically support key points and argument with evidence /
examples?

Does my conclusion:
Bring together the main points?
Link back to the question/topic?
State clearly the conclusion(s) of my argument?

Does my essay:
Read clearly throughout?
Make correct use of grammar, syntax and punctuation?

Checklist
Two words that many of you will have seen on your feedback are 'clunky' and 'casual'.

The former of these tends to relate to grammatical issues and the latter towards issues of
academic style,
which we will cover today
.
Essay Style
Clarity, Concision and Efficiency.
The first account of Shakespeare combining pain and pleasure within Twelfth Night is in the first scene of the play. Orsino begins, “If music be the food of love, play on.” This statement would have done nothing else but delay the play. Originally as the audience would be settling in the theatre and a consort of musicians would be playing music, instead of getting on it appears that Orsino would rather join the audience in listening to more of
the overture thus postponing the play. This gives the impression of something being incredibly painful, this being love. Shakespeare crafts his play so that the audience is thrown directly into the drama of the Twelfth Night as Orsino’s monologue begins to establish a complexity of love.
Putting it into Practice
These are two major areas of difficulty for students.

One of them is that students are either
a. inconsistent with tenses
b. choosing the wrong tense.

As a result, this often leads to students writing in the passive voice - something that also leads to a lack of clarity.
Problems with Tenses, Problems with Voice
Linking between paragraphs needs to be handled with serious care.

This is where you demonstrate the argument coming together as a coherent whole.

What are the best ways of doing this?

What should we avoid?
Effective Links
Basic Writing Skills and Structure.
What is this doing well?

What is this doing wrong?
Here are some questions that you should always be asking yourself:

Do I need to use the whole quote?

Can this point be expressed in fewer words/sentences?

Is it impossible to misunderstand this point?
Active and passive voice

Sentences in the active voice are much easier to read and understand than those in the passive voice.

Active voice: John’s father repaired the car.

Passive voice: The car was repaired by John’s father.

The active voice sentence uses fewer words and gets straight to the point. However, the passive voice can be useful when you don’t know the subject of the sentence or don’t want to call attention to it. For example, “The real identity of Jack the Ripper remains unknown” is better than “No-one really knows who Jack the Ripper was”.
In these ways both works can be viewed as psycho-analytical studies with reference to wider society.

Interaction with society on a political level is discussed by both authors.
Full transcript