The biggest problem facing anyone is just failure to edit well. I was just lazy when I had to submit papers. Invariably my best work was edited by me AND someone else. Sometimes, I’d just find someone with five minutes who could read my work, but someone specifically trained to edit is even better.
As a young ferret, I would have great and wonderful thoughts running around in my head, and I just never went back and edited my work. The reader of course is left to figure out what I meant. Almost anyone can write a quick 400 words, but when you stop to think about it, that is hardly enough to cover a subject, except in a cursory way. We must be willing to constantly edit for brevity. Shorten the sentences, be concise. Shorten paragraphs, and hone the thoughts using fewer words, and use good grammar.
Sarcasm is often lost on teachers. Unless they realize we are using irony and humor, it’s best to stay away from it in an educational piece. We don’t want to offend them, or have to explain sarcasm, but as a tool for getting humans to think, it can’t be beat. I cover alot of sarcasm in my blog at BlogSpot. Instead of sarcasm, just stick to the content, and like any task, you write just one sentence at a time.
Basic tips include but are not limited to:
1. Every sentence needs to be a stand alone thought which makes sense if completely taken from the paragraph, and set aside – ask yourself, “does my sentence still make sense all alone?”.
2. Each paragraph, with a beginning, middle and end must be able to stand on it’s own, without relying on the rest of the article or composition.
3. Do not end in propositional phrases, or poor phraseology. Using colloquialisms that we pick up in our speech will almost always throw the reader off, and our sentences will be confusing.
4. Write with passion, edit for clarity and brevity, and make each sentence work toward explaining the theme and justifying your argument.
5. Find someone to edit your work before submitting, and after they edit your work, don’t take anything they say personal, they are trying to help you, have a thick skin, take their advice, apply it to your sentences, and ask them to edit it again.
6. Never submit any work that has not been edited, as the sentences you write may not be taken the same way as you intend them.
Obviously, there are other tips, but I have found that any more hints or tips beyond 7 and people forget them. The tips above were just meant to remind us all what we learned in lit class, and not a comprehensive study.