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Assignment Planning

Sharpen those pencils!

image by Flickr user The Trial

Capilano Writing Centre

The Writing Centre can help you write more clearly, logically, and effectively. They offer:

  • a drop-in centre where you can work on your writing assignments with faculty available to answer your questions.
  • information sheets and exercises on many aspects of writing from comma use to MLA documentation and everything in between
  • a computer lab + printer
  • a collection of dictionaries + books on writing and research
  • a quiet work space with natural light + fresh air

Visit The Writing Centre in Fir 402 or call 604.984.4956 or local 495.

Walk away! And return with fresh eyes

Revising your assignment immediately after writing it doesn't allow you to see your mistakes and ambiguities as clearly as you would be able to after some time away. Plan to leave at least 24 hours, and more if you can, between writing and revising.

Once you come back to your work, review one aspect of your essay at a time. Trying to catch everything in one pass will only lead to missed edits.

Essay Structure and Argument

Introduction

  • Do you start with a good hook to entice your reader?
  • Does your introduction set the scene for your essay by clearly introducing your topic and approach?
  • Do you state your thesis clearly with conviction?

Supporting Paragraphs

  • Is there a logical flow to your argument? Does it match your introduction?
  • Do you transition between paragraphs? Your essay is like a map - make sure the reader doesn't get lost by an abrupt turn without warning.
  • Does each paragraph have a topic sentence? Do the other sentences support that topic sentence or stroll off-topic?
  • Can you eliminate or combine any paragraphs for a more effective, tighter argument?

Conclusion

  • Does the conclusion resolve the thesis statement?
  • Does the reader walk away with something to think about?
  • Are there any new arguments in the conclusion? Everything should be referring to the body of the essay and the thesis - no new ideas here.

Vocabulary and Grammar

After you are satisfied with your structure, move on to the nuts & bolts - vocabulary and grammar.

Vocabulary

  • Do you repeatedly use the same words and phrases? Readers need variety. Use a thesaurus to change it up. 
  • Are you 100% sure of the meaning of all the words you used? If there's any doubt, use a dictionary to make sure you mean what you say.
  • Do you use colloquialisms (everyday speech) or contractions? Your tone should follow academic prose style - formal but not stilted.
  • Do you use inflammatory language? Is it effective or frenzied?
  • Do you use the passive voice (e.g., "the essay was written")? The active voice (e.g., "I wrote the essay") can be more immediate and stronger.

Grammar

  • Are all your sentences complete thoughts with both a subject and a verb? Check for fragments and subject-verb disagreements.
  • Do you punctuate correctly throughout? Eliminate all exclamation points!
  • Do you effectively transition between sentences, allowing your reader to follow your train of thought? Do you use a variety of transition words?

Style

After nailing down the vocabulary and grammar, it's time to work on the style of your essay.

  • Do you use a variety of complex and simple sentences? Complex sentences add flow, while short, pointed sentences add emphasis.
  • Is your tone consistent throughout the essay? Do you accidentally slip into a casual voice? Reading your essay out loud can help you establish the desired tone and keep it steady throughout the piece.