Tips to Help You Write a Better Paper

Allison Brown   Staff Writer


As an aspiring writer and an English major, the large number of term papers, research papers, and creative work I get assigned every semester is not surprising. I am sure many people are in a similar boat as me, even if you do not have such a writing intensive course load. Along with other responsibilities that come with being a college student, I often find it hard to write so many papers well. Here are a few tips and ideas to help you earn that “A” on your next written assignment or even develop your own writing style.

One way to improve your revision stage of a paper would be to use the speak feature on Microsoft Word. By using this tool, it will read the words exactly as they appear on the page. Sometimes I notice myself changing how the sentence reads in my head when proofreading. This tool allows me to catch my issues without having my own voice filling in what I want the paper to sound like. Instead of using the speak option, you could also grab a few of your friends or roommates and have them read the paper out loud to you. This will filter out the structural issues of a paper.

Another computer application that I use for all my papers is called Grammarly. This is a free application that can be installed on Google Chrome. Once on the website, you can create a free account and upload copies of your  papers. The website checks for any grammar issues and underlines them in red. You can hover over the underlined words to read an explanation of the corrected form and fix errors that Microsoft Word may have left undetected, including words that are spelled right but do not make sense in context. It has saved my life several times when I am running late and need to revise my work quickly.

One way that is a bit more complicated to organize would be to have your paper workshopped. For people who don’t know what that is, it’s basically when a group of people give constructive and helpful feedback on your paper while discussing it in a group while you are present. I find it to be very affective.

Above all, my best tip for writers is to read as many books, academic papers, and essays as you can. By reading, writers gain insight into different techniques authors use to convey their messages. It will also help you develop a unique voice in you writing.  If you are trying to find your voice in a creative writing course, it may help to be specific not general in your writing. What I mean is, write the truth from your own experiences making the characters sound as authentic as possible. It is perfectly okay to draw on situations from your life or those around you even when writing fiction. Another way to continue to develop your voice is to ask yourself the question: do you sound like the person you really are or the person you think you should be?

My final tip is from the book “How to Steal like an Artist” and it is “glace out the window…stroll the streets…go outside…get lost…wander.”

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