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Writing Assistance Team

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Welcome! This library research guide provides an introduction to library resources related to writing and the Writing Assistance Team. This guide will assist you in finding books, e-books, scholarly journal articles, streaming videos, websites, and more that will help you research topics in this subject.

What is WAT (Writing Assistance Team)?

 

gary schmitz

The Writing Assistance Team (WAT) is a friendly and talented group of SC4 English professors who offer their expert skills, support, and time to any students seeking to improve their own writing, whether for an English course or any other course in which significant writing is required.

WAT, along with SC4's experienced writing tutors, can be found at the Writing Center.

 

NINE BASIC WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR STYLE

IN ACADEMIC WRITING

(...using non-academic examples!)

 

1. Use ACTIVE VOICE

Don't say: "The stepmother's house was cleaned by Cinderella." (Passive.)

Say instead: "Cinderella cleaned the stepmother's house." (Active voice.)

Passive voice construction ("was cleaned") is reserved for those occasions where the "do-er" of the action is unknown.

Example: "Prince Charming saw the glass slipper that was left behind."

 

2. Mix it up in terms of PUNCTUATION

Here are a few commonly misused punctuation marks that a lot of people aren't sure about:

The semi-colon (;) separates two complete sentences that are complementary.

Example: "She was always covered in cinders from cleaning the fireplace; they called her Cinderella."

 

The colon (:) is used...

a. preceding a list.

Example: "Before her stepmother awoke, Cinderella had three chores to complete: feeding the chickens, cooking breakfast, and doing the wash."

b. as a sort of "drum roll," preceding some big revelation.

Example: "One thing fueled the wicked stepmother's hatred for Cinderella: jealousy."

 

The dash (--) is made by typing two hyphens (-). No spaces go in between the dash and the text. It is used...

a. to bracket off some explanatory information.

Example: "Even Cinderella's stepsisters-who were not nearly as lovely or virtuous as Cinderella--were allowed to go to the ball."

b. in the "drum roll" sense of the colon.

Example: "Prince Charming would find this mystery lady--even if he had to put the slipper on every other girl in the kingdom."

 

3. Vary your SENTENCE STRUCTURE

Don't say: "Cinderella saw her fairy godmother appear. She was dressed in blue. She held a wand. The wand had a star on it. She was covered in sparkles. Cinderella was amazed. She asked who the woman was. The woman said, 'I am your fairy godmother.' She said she would get Cinderella a dress and a coach. She said she would help Cinderella go to the ball."

Instead say: (there are multiple correct ways to rewrite this, but here's one) "Amazed, Cinderella watched as her fairy godmother appeared. The woman dressed in blue was covered in sparkles and carried a star-shaped wand. Cinderella asked the woman who she was, to which the woman replied, 'I am your fairy godmother." The fairy godmother would get Cinderella a dress and a coach; she would help Cinderella get to the ball."

 

4. Closely related to this, avoid CHOPPINESS

Don't say: "She scrubbed the floors. They were dirty. She used a mop. She sighed sadly. It was as if she were a servant ."

Instead say : (again, there are multiple ways to do this) "She scrubbed the dirty floors using a mop, as if she were a servant. She sighed sadly."

 

5. Avoid REPETITION.

Don't say: "The stepsisters were jealous and envious ."

Instead say : "The stepsisters were jealous ." (...or envious. Pick one.)

 

6. Be CONCISE

Don't say: "The mystery lady was one who every eligible man at the ball admired."

Instead say : "Every eligible man at the ball admired the mystery lady."

 

7. Use the VOCABULARY that you know.

Don't always feel you have to use big words. It is always better to be clear and use simple language rather than showing off flashy words you aren't sure about and potentially misusing them. This is not to say, however, that you should settle for very weak vocabulary choices (like "bad" or "big" or "mad").

 

8. But also work on expanding your VOCABULARY.

When reading, look up words you don't know. See how they're used. Start a list. Incorporate them into your writing as you feel comfortable and as they are appropriate.

 

9. Keep language FORMAL and avoid language of everyday speech.

Don't say: "Cinderella was mellow and good. She never let her stepmother get to her ."

Say instead: "Cinderella was mild-mannered and kind. She never let her stepmother affect her high spirits ."

 

So, essentially, when it comes to working on style, there are three things to remember:

Empower yourself with knowledge.

  • Learn to punctuate correctly, enhance your vocabulary, etc. Give yourself all the tools there are so that you are free to...

...Mix it up!

  • Avoid repetition of words and sentence structure. Variance promotes good "flow" and is more interesting for your reader.

"Write to EXPRESS, not to IMPRESS."

  • Above all, write actively, clearly, and concisely.

 

 

 

Text: Carini, Amber. "Nine Basic Ways to Improve Your Style in Academic Writing." http://slc.berkeley.edu, 2002, slc.berkeley.edu/nine-basic-ways-improve-your-style-academic-writing. Accessed 25 Jan. 2018.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

After polling SC4 professors about which citation style they require, we’ve put together the list below to help you to write your paper using the citation style appropriate to the discipline or field in which the paper has been assigned.

Please note that some professors have specific citation style preferences which may not be listed above. These are general guidelines – please read the instructions for any writing assignment you receive, and if you’re not sure which citation style to use, ask your professor!

The Writing Assistance Team and Hours

       SC4 Writing Center ~ 313 Main Building

Professor                  Phone Number

 Chris Hilton               810-989-5597

Office: 315F

M 11:00 – 1:00     T 9:30 – 11:00      Th 10:00 – 11:00; 12:15 – 1:15

Liz Jacoby                  810-989-5591

Office: 319G

M 8:00 – 9:00; 11:30 – 12:45 Wr Center      T 8:00 – 10:30      W 8:00 – 9:00

Cliff Johnson             810-989-5582

Office: 315E

M/W 10:30 - 11:00; 12:15 – 1:00       T 4:15 – 6:00        F1:30 – 2:30

Suzanne O’Brien       810-989-5747

Office: 319H

T/Th 11:00 – 1:00           W 1:30 – 2:30

 

Sue Plachta                810-989-5596

Office: 315C

M 1:00 – 3:00       T 11:00 – 2:00

Gary Schmitz              810-989-5589

Office: 319C

M 11:45 – 1:00     T 1:15 – 2:00 Wr Center           W 2:15 – 3:00 Wr Center

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