Effective Writing Guideline
Most adults in Japan have studied English for at least six years, but very few can write creative and fluent English. In fact, even native speakers find creative writing difficult. To write English well requires more than good translation skills or grammatical knowledge. First and foremost, the writer needs to think. Good writing is only 10% inspiration and 90% hard work. The following guidelines should be followed whenever writing.
1) Give yourself time to think about the topic.
What does it mean?
Do you have any personal experience or knowledge of the topic?
Do you know anyone who does?
Look up a dictionary to check unfamiliar words.
Is there a hidden meaning?
Talk to family members or friends about the topic.
If necessary, do some research at the library.
2) Make notes. It is almost impossible even for a native speaker to write finished copy without notes.
Notes can be as simple as a list of words, a graph or even a picture.
Don't worry about spelling or grammar at this stage. Just jot down anything that comes to mind. You can always delete it later.
3) Using you notes, write an "Essay Plan". Every essay or article needs an interesting introduction, a central argument (with pro's and con's), and a convincing conclusion.
This plan is very important, so spend time on it. At this stage, you need not worry about spelling and grammar.
An example plan might look like this:
Topic: Should School Students Wear Uniforms? (taking the negative position) Introduction:
State definitely that students should not wear uniforms. Include a quotation from an expert child psychologist on the negative effects of enforced conformity.
Central Argument : (one paragraph per point)
Recent psychological research.
Statistics on bullying in schools (when students don't conform to group standards).
Quotes from students (positive and negative).
Quotes from parents (positive and negative)
Quotes from schools (positive and negative).
Discuss financial costs.
Discuss repression of individuality.
Conclude with something very persuasive. Example: excerpt from an interview with a student to "reinforce" your argument.
"Having to wear a uniform for 12 years of my life has made me feel like a "sheep". A follower with no opinions, ideas or thoughts of his own. I feel that I have never had a chance to explore and express my individuality." (Tsutomo Inoue, aged 18) 4) Only when your plan is complete should you start writing. Follow the plan and don't worry about spelling. At this stage you should be thinking about grammar, sentence construction and interesting vocabulary. Most importantly, your writing should express your own ideas.
After you have finished the first draft, go back over the essay, checking spelling and grammar. Read the essay aloud to see if it "sounds right". Rewrite certain sentences if necessary. Ask a friend their opinion of the essay.
6) Proofreading (1)
At this stage (and only at this stage) perfection should be your goal. Fix every mistake, spelling and punctuation error. Think about presentation - use highlighting, underlining and italics where necessary. Don't forget to number the pages.
7) Proofreading (2)
If possible, ask a fluent English speaker to proofread your work, before you submit it. Do not ask them to edit it. Their job is just to do the final check.
8) Submit your carefully thought-out,well-written and perfectly presented essay to your teacher. Well done!