Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Write, Read, Read Aloud, & Share

Maybe they should have read it again.
Writing a paper can be a hard difficult task, but you might be even more frustrated when your professor returns your paper and you realize that your professor has found simple writing errors that costs you points off your grade.  You really thought that you had read that paper thoroughly, but somehow you missed didn’t see the errors.  How did that happen?! Did you find the three previous errors? I’d say that it was easy for you to see them because you did not write this paper and my mistakes just jumped off the page at you. (See * for corrections.)

What would be a good way for you, as the writer, to catch your writing errors before you turn in your paper?  Page 70 of "The APA Manual" has three suggestions for improving your writing: 1) reread your paper with the caveat of waiting a few days after you have written it to reread it, 2) read your paper aloud, and 3) have a friend(s) or colleague(s) read your paper.
Have you ever tried reading your own writing aloud?  Did it sound awkward?  Did you immediately change a few words because you knew that it sounded wrong the way you first wrote it? Reading your own writing aloud is one of the easiest things that you can do to improve your writing.  Pages 104-106 in Robert Fry’s book, ImproveYour Writing, suggests that not only should you read your paper aloud, but read it backwards so that you are reading the words and not phrases; you will catch more mistakes that way.
Finally, share your paper with a friend and help out your friend by reading their paper too.  Lee-Ann Kastman Breuch’s book, VirtualPeer Review: Teaching and LearningAbout Writing in Online Environments, gives some suggestions about online sharing. I’ll bet that you both get better grades on your next paper.
And yes, I did follow all three suggestions: reread, read aloud, and share.
* The errors were 1) at the beginning of the first sentence: “…hard difficult task…” where either “hard” or “difficult” should be deleted, 2) the end of the first sentence: “ …simple writing errors that costs…” where “costs” should be “cost”, and 3) in the second sentence: “…somehow you missed didn’t see the error…” where either “missed” or “didn’t see” should be deleted.

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