Hints on Composition

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Hints on Composition

By | October 2012
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Hints on Composition

** Please be sure to discuss the text in the present tense, even though many of your quotations will be in the past tense. This is a convention of critical prose.

** Avoid using the pronoun “you” when you mean the people in general; consider words like “the reader,” “we,” or even “I.” Avoid using “I,” however, to qualify your assertion (“I think, in my opinion,” etc.). You certainly may use the first-person if you are talking about your personal experience, but remember to relate this to your interpretation of the text at hand, and keep it short in a paper of only a few pages.

** Always give the important grammatical positions in the sentence (subject, verb, object) to words that are strong in meaning. Avoid making a word like “reason” or “example” the subject of your sentence, and try, when possible, to find a stronger, more active and descriptive verb than the verb “to be.”

REVISE:
Another instance in which labor is used by Ceil to silence her reality can be found at the beginning of the story.

[Similarly, avoid using delaying formulas, such as “it is,” “there is,” there are,” except for clear stylistic reasons. Such constructions give the position of subject to an indefinite article and the position of verb to form of “to be.”]

** Avoid sentence fragments at all costs, unless they are clearly deliberate stylistically.

** Keep your syntax (the word order in your sentences) clear, and make sure your quotations fit the syntax of your sentence. [Note that in order to make a quotation fit your syntax, you may omit material by using the ellipsis mark (three spaced periods-- . . .) or add material in brackets--[ ]. Do not use parentheses for this; parentheses in a quotation indicate that the material quoted is in parentheses in the original text. Use moderation in changing a quote using these tools, and always be respectful of your source’s context.]

** Revise your drafts for paragraph continuity...
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