Since the myriad rules are confusing to students, I have whittled them down to one, just one. This is the supreme, over-arching rule for writing. It is the secret to good writing. You may fail in every other area, but if you meet this requirement, your paper has redeeming value. Conversely, if you observe impeccably all the other rules but fail at this, you can’t get better than a C.
What is it?
Don’t be bored writing.
Yes, it’s that simple. If you are bored writing, you’re writing boring stuff. Your grader will be bored, and your grade will reflect that.
But if you get passionate about what you are writing, if you feel it, if what you are saying really matters to you, no matter what your mistakes are, the reader will sense your excitement and grade you accordingly. I prefer that an assault on my own personal beliefs than boring regurgitation. I may pick apart logical fallacies, but the passion with which you write is exciting nevertheless. If you challenge my ideals, I’m intellectually stimulated. And I grade accordingly.
If you are bored, what you write is probably mindless drivel. If you get entranced by your proving your thesis, your words will be golden.
Of course, I don’t mean using exclamation marks. Nor all capital letters. Nor mocking your opponent’s position. No, you must challenge your opponents thinking with thinking of your own. And you will only think, if you get excited about the topic.
Of course, grammar, spelling, logical progression, use of logic, logical separation of sub ideas are all important. But they are the boring details. Spelling and grammar errors only work negatively into your grade; if they are bad, you get down-graded, but they are good, you don’t get up-graded.
In my next post, I will give one strategy to get excited about (almost) any subject.