Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Author-in-Residence, Day 2... more tips and advice

So, as the film reviews continue to trickle through, here are some more general tips for successful writing...

Tip number 3 - The reader is not your friend.

By this I mean, keep your writing impersonal and academic.  No gushing! No exclamation marks!! The reader doesn’t need to know that you loved the film…’it was brilliant!’  What does this actually tell the reader? Be specific, for example ‘the use of light and shadow added greatly to the overall menacing atmosphere’ is better than ‘ I loved the way he used light and shadow to give a spooky feeling!’ 

It is also recommended that you write in the 3rd person, which can seem a bit odd to start with, but it is well worth getting into the habit of doing this early on, as it will make your actual essay and dissertation writing so much easier. There is a document available in the Space and Environment Unit, Teaching Materials, Essays and Articles, which gives you a whole list of alternatives to using ‘ I think’ etc.  Make a copy and stick it somewhere where you can easily refer to it when writing. Look here ...

Tip number 4 - ‘To quote, or not to quote; that is the question’

…and the answer is YES, but only if the quote is going to add to your writing!  You can’t just go randomly dropping in a quote here and there, and expect to get away with it.  You need to introduce the quote first, and then you need to ‘unpick’ it – explain why it is relevant to your discussion or argument.  Quotes are the backbone of your writing, so make them strong ones.  The guide mentioned above gives you examples of how to do this.

Quotes need to be placed between ‘ ‘ or “ “  and should be italicised…and MUST be referenced using the Harvard Method.  There is no excuse for not doing this, as there is a reference guide in the library part of myUCA, which takes you step-by-step through how to reference just about any source you care to think of  – you can find it here


I recommend you bookmark it and refer back to it often!


More tomorrow :)

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