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Four Quick Tips to Improve Your Writing
by Jennifer

     Anyone can be a better writer.  Try following one or more of these tips and see.

1.       Vary Sentence Types:  Mix  simple sentences with compound and complex ones.  A variety of lengths results in a better paragraph or essay with a higher mark.

2.       Vary Sentence Starts:  Don’t always start your sentences with a subject and a verb.  Subject-verb sentence patterns can be repetitive.  Start several sentences using adverbs or prepositional phrases. For example, the following sentence is clear but predictable.  “The burglar cautiously slid the window up and entered the house.”  Compare that with this one.  “Cautiously, the burglar slid the window up and slipped silently into the house.”  An adverb start focuses reader attention on how the burglar entered and is more interesting to read.  Which would you rather read?  I’d rather read the second sentence and would give it a better mark.

3.       Write An Interesting Title:  A topic is not a title.  Your title should be a few of your own words that highlight your specific paragraph.  Your own title will earn you a better mark and better represent your work.

4.       Use Alliteration:  When editing, sparingly use several words starting with the same letter in some sentences.  For example, alliteration is used in Tip 2 with slid, slipped, and silently.   Alliteration is a hallmark of better writing.  It makes reading easier and improves your mark.

5.       Look at the following paragraph examples.   The first is written in simple sentences and follows Tip 3.  The second follows Tips 1, 2, and 3.  Remember, for school/college, always indent.

My Scary Dream #1

     This dream was very scary.  I dreamed about a mountain.  I dreamed about a dog.  The mountain was big.  It was green.  The mountain had big stones.  The dog was big.  The dog was black.  Its mouth was open.  The dog’s teeth were large.  They were sharp.  The dog began barking.  It barked and barked.  Then it chased me.  I ran to the mountain.  Suddenly, the mountain had feet.  The mountain chased me.  An angel came.  It gave me wings.  I flew far away above the dog and the mountain.  (20 sentences total)

My Scary Dream #2

     Very scary was this dream! (adverb start)  I dreamed about a mountain and a dog.  The mountain was big, green, and stoney.  The big black dog’s mouth was open, and its teeth were large and sharp.  (2 sentences joined with a comma plus and to make a compound sentence)  The dog began barking and barked and barked. (simple sentence)   Then, it chased me!  (transition plus simple sentence)  I ran to the mountain.  (simple sentence)  Suddenly, the mountain had feet, and it chased me, too. (adverb start,  compound sentence)  An angel came, and it gave me wings.  (compound sentence)  I flew far away above the dog and the mountain. (simple sentence)  (10 sentences total)

What do you think?  Which paragraph is better and why?  How could the second paragraph be made better?  Try this yourself!

For more ideas, try the following two books:  Evergreen, A Guide to Writing, 8th edition, Houghton Mifflin, and The Basics of Writing, Book 3, Globe Book Company. 

Try a quiz on this topic.


(April 2, 2013)

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