Writing is not an easy thing to do. It is a skill that takes years and years of practice to perfect, and even then perfection is hardly universal. What some people view as great writing is oftentimes seen as tedious and exceedingly verbose by others. At the same time, writing that is too short and terse can be seen as lacking style and personality. This sample English essay explores the biggest writing fails college students face and how to avoid them.
The Biggest Writing Fails
The biggest writing fail that we see year after year is probably the one that is drilled into your brain from day one of your first writing class. You cannot, in any way shape or form, write a good paper without a strong thesis statement.
My English teacher taught me years ago to always keep the idea of “clarity, coherence, and cohesiveness” in the back of your mind whenever you write a college paper or essay.
The biggest writing fail with regards to most college papers is that they simply do not have a thesis statement nor does the author clearly state what the heck he is talking about!
While papers that have no thesis or a weak thesis often suffer from a weak introduction as well, this writing fail deserves its own spot on the list. An introduction can be considered weak if it lacks a strong and clear thesis, but also if it doesn’t have any sense of organization or outline for how the paper will read. A reader should be able to read your introduction, see your argument and supporting concepts, and understand exactly what he or she will be reading.
One of the biggest writing fails we see is a lack of roadmapping (also know as an outline). Roadmapping is essentially structuring a paper so that the reader can follow along the main ideas by just reading the introduction, topic sentences, and conclusion. A great paper will achieve this by making sure each topic sentence and paragraph’s main idea can be traced directly to the paper’s introduction. No roadmapping means that your paper is probably poorly organized.
You’re not a poet. Don’t use full quotes randomly in your paper for rhetorical reasons alone. It doesn’t help. Really, it doesn’t. If you quote something, quote only the relevant information, and only quote something that actually has meaning.
- In other words, don’t quote the phrase “Germany lost WW2.” That’s useless.
- Instead, use this quote: Germany lost the Second World War because of a “strong imbalance in domestic commitment” for the war effort.
Make your quotes have meaning. Also, make sure you use the proper citations with quotes.
New information in the conclusion
I’ve seen far too many papers where the writer committed one of the biggest writing fails a college student possibly can. He or she puts new information in the conclusion, or at worst comes to a different conclusion that was presented in the initial arguments. It’s good to change your thesis and ideas as you write, but you can’t write one thesis, then end up concluding an entirely different or contradictory viewpoint. Your conclusion sums up and restates the thesis found in your introduction and nothing else. Academic writing is not the time nor place for plot twists.