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Writing Effectively. REVISING FOR CONCISENESS. Revise the following sample sentences (1 – 6), making them more concise. SAMPLE SENTENCE #1. ORIGINAL: The reason buying a new house is so difficult is because the process is so complex. PROBLEM: Redundancy – “reason… is because”

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Writing Effectively

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Writing effectively l.jpg

Writing Effectively


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REVISING FOR CONCISENESS

Revise the following sample sentences (1 – 6), making them more concise.


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SAMPLE SENTENCE #1

ORIGINAL: The reason buying a new house is so difficult is because the process is so complex.

PROBLEM: Redundancy – “reason… is because”

REVISED: Buying a house is so difficult because the process is so complex.


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SAMPLE SENTENCE #2

ORIGINAL: The first step is to achieve familiarization with the area in which you plan to buy.

PROBLEM: Nominalization – “to achieve familiarization”

REVISED: Buying a house is so difficult because the process is so complex.


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SAMPLE SENTENCE #3

ORIGINAL: A realtor who is experienced and well recommended is a must.

PROBLEM: Unnecessary clause.

REVISED: An experienced, well-recommended realtor is a must.


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SAMPLE SENTENCE #4

ORIGINAL: Trying to find a low-interest loan complicates the home-buying situation.

PROBLEM: Roundabout construction using “situation.”

REVISED: Trying to find a low-interest loan complicates buying a home.


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SAMPLE SENTENCE #5

ORIGINAL: It is when you can find a fixed-interest mortgage loan with single-digit interest that you should lock it in, rather than settling for a variable rate loan.

PROBLEM: Unnecessary expletive construction.

REVISED: When you can find a mortgage loan with a single-digit fixed rate, you should lock it in, rather than settling for a variable rate loan.


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SAMPLE SENTENCE #6

ORIGINAL: Don’t forget that your down payment is only one part of your closing costs. Closing costs may also include having the home inspected, prepaying a year’s worth of taxes in advance, insuring the house and even having the property surveyed.

PROBLEM: Awkward repetition. Revise by combining sentences and reducing phrases to single words.

REVISED: Don’t forget that your down payment is only one part of your closing costs, which may also include having a home inspected, prepayment of taxes, home insurance and even a survey.


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REVISING FOR COORDINATION OR SUBORDINATION

Revise the following sample sentences (7 – 12); focus on identifying and correcting problems of coordination or subordination.


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SAMPLE SENTENCE #7

ORIGINAL: Joan was 35 and she had not lost her taste for learning and she wanted to finish her degree.

PROBLEM: Excessive coordination, unclear relationships among ideas.

REVISED: Although Joan was 35, she had not lost her taste for learning and wanted to finish her degree.


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SAMPLE SENTENCE #8

ORIGINAL: She announced to her husband and children that she was going back to college. She registered for classes. She found somebody to carpool with. She went. She had a few misgivings. She found herself surrounded by 18-year-olds. She kept at it.

PROBLEM: Sentences are repetitive, primer-style. Needs subordination to clarify relationships among these ideas.

REVISED: She announced to her husband and children that she was going back to college, registered for classes, found somebody to carpool with and went. She had a few misgivings when she found herself surrounded by 18-year-olds, but she kept at it.


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SAMPLE SENTENCE #9

ORIGINAL: She had a few early successes, but she felt she could do it after all.

PROBLEM: Illogical coordination.

REVISED: When she had a few early successes, she felt she could do it after all.


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SAMPLE SENTENCE #10

ORIGINAL: Although her new status as a student put a great strain on her family, she often felt like quitting.

PROBLEM: Illogical coordination.

REVISED: Because her new status as a student put a great strain on her family, she often felt like quitting.


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SAMPLE SENTENCE #11

ORIGINAL: Her children adjusted to the shock of having a college student for a mother, and she redoubled her efforts.

PROBLEM: Unclear - Subordination would make the connection between ideas clearer.

REVISED: When her children adjusted to the shock of having a college student for a mother, she redoubled her efforts.


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SAMPLE SENTENCE #12

ORIGINAL: Her family transformed itself into a support system. She wondered how single people could manage the workload by themselves.

PROBLEM: Unclear - Subordination would make the connection between ideas clearer.

REVISED: As her family transformed itself into a support system, she wondered how single people could manage the workload by themselves.


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REVISING FOR PARALLELISM

Revise the following sample sentences (13 - 18); focus on identifying and correcting problems of parallelism.


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SAMPLE SENTENCE #13

ORIGINAL: My father’s boss, losing his temper, lashed out at my father and my father quit after running out of patience.

PROBLEM: Unclear - Use parallel construction to emphasize the contrast.

REVISED: My father’s boss, losing his temper, lashed out at my father and my father, losing his patience, quit.


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SAMPLE SENTENCE #14

ORIGINAL: My father had been unprepared for this major change, which forced him to spend a large portion of his time around the house performing domestic chores and leading to what I would call a mid-life crisis.

PROBLEM: “Performing” and “leading” look parallel, but aren’t.

REVISED: My father had been unprepared for this major change, which forced him to spend a large portion of his time around the house performing domestic chores. His new status led to what I would call a mid-life crisis.


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SAMPLE SENTENCE #15

ORIGINAL: He had lost his job, but his sense of identity was also gone.

PROBLEM: Improper conjunction – Need to use correlative conjunctions and parallel form.

REVISED: He had lost not only his job, but also his identity.


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SAMPLE SENTENCE #16

ORIGINAL: When he wasn’t depressed he was angry: with us, himself, and total strangers.

PROBLEM: Parallel items are not in climactic order; need to repeat the preposition for emphasis.

REVISED: When he wasn’t depressed he was angry with strangers, with us, with himself.


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SAMPLE SENTENCE #17

ORIGINAL: He fretted over his financial situation. The fate of his family concerned him. He also wondered what he would do next.

PROBLEM: Does not underscore closely related ideas with parallelism.

REVISED: He fretted over his financial situation, his family and his future.


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SAMPLE SENTENCE #18

ORIGINAL: My father began to regain his footing when he met Dr. Elizabeth Randall, a professional counselor who listens carefully, does not judge, and that helps her clients articulate their own feelings.

PROBLEM: Faulty parallelism.

REVISED: My father began to regain his footing when he met Dr. Elizabeth Randall, a professional counselor who listens carefully, who does not judge, and who helps her clients articulate their own feelings.


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REVISING FOR VARIETY

  • One sign of an undeveloped style is a series of simple sentences, all very close to the same length. Without variety in length and complexity, they lose the potential for emphasis.

  • The result is a flat, unemphatic effect.

  • An unrelieved string of long, complex sentences can be equally deadly.


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EXERCISE: CREATING VARIETY

  • Count the number of words in each of the sentences in the text given.

  • Describe each sentence’s structure: simple, compound, complex or compound-complex.

  • Then revise the paragraph for variety and emphasis.


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VARIETY EXERCISE TEXT

(1) After the funeral, the family of the deceased has to go into mourning. (2) In Judaism, this period of mourning is called Shiva. (3) This lasts for seven days. (4) Upon returning home, the family’s mirrors have been covered so they cannot look at themselves. (5) A candle is lit for the memory of the departed. (6) Friends and neighbors supply the family with eggs as a traditional symbol of mourning. (7) During the period of mourning, the person’s thoughts are considered to be involved only with the deceased, and the mourners are expected to do nothing for themselves. (8) The making and serving of meals and other household tasks are done by friends.


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VARIETY EXERCISE TEXT (con’t)

(9) The role of friends and relatives is to comfort the mourners. (10) During the Shiva the mourners do not leave the house and the Kaddish or mourner’s prayer is said twice a day by those in mourning. (11) A thirty-day mourning period is in effect if any close relative dies. (12) If it is a parent the period of mourning lasts a year. (13) At the end of the year the family must go to another service called the unveiling. (14) This is where the gravestone is uncovered after being covered for a year. (15) A prayer is said at the gravesite where friends and relatives are gathered. (16) Yahrzeit is the anniversary of the deceased. (17) A memorial candle is lit annually to commemorate the person’s death.


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ANALYSIS FOR VARIETY OF SENTENCE LENGTH AND STRUCTURE

Sentence number# of wordsStructure

  • 13simple

  • 9simple

  • 5simple

  • 15complex

  • 10simple

  • 14simple

  • 27compound

  • 14simple


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ANALYSIS FOR VARIETY OF SENTENCE LENGTH AND STRUCTURE

Sentence number# of wordsStructure

  • 11simple

  • 25compound

  • 12simple

  • 12complex

  • 16simple

  • 13complex

  • 14complex

  • 7simple

  • 11simple


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REVISED FOR VARIETY

After the Jewish funeral, the family of the deceased goes into a seven-day period of mourning, known as Shiva. During Shiva, a candle is lit in memory of the departed; friends and neighbors supply the family with eggs, a traditional symbol of mourning. As family members are expected to think only of the deceased, their mirrors are covered so they cannot look at themselves. Nor are they expected to do anything for themselves: meals are made and served and other household tasks performed by friends and relatives, whose role it is to aid and comfort the mourners.


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REVISED FOR VARIETY (con’t)

During Shiva the mourners do not leave the house. Twice a day, they repeat the Kaddish or mourner’s prayer. If the deceased was a close relative, the entire period of mourning lasts thirty days; if a parent, one year. At the end of that year the family attends an unveiling service where the gravestone, covered for the year, is uncovered. Friends and relatives say a prayer at the gravesite. In subsequent years at Yahrzeit, the anniversary of the death, the family lights a memorial candle.


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VINCENT VAN GOGH’S FIRST STEPS


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Van Gogh (1853 -1890), whose lurid colors and bold brush strokes often bring to mind a rush of adrenalin, tries here to capture that excitement.

Prepare to use the four process steps to write about the painting:

Planning and Shaping

Drafting

Revising

Editing

FIRST STEPS: WRITING AS PROCESS EXERCISE


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Look at the whole picture.

What visual parallels do you see?

What contrasts?

What happened right before this moment?

Right after?

Of all the milestones in a child’s development, nothing - except possibly the first smile or the first words - causes as much excitement as the first steps.

How do you convey that level of excitement in words, without using capitalization, underlining or exclamation marks?

How much can you capture with sentence structure alone?

PLANNING AND SHAPING


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DRAFTING

  • Draft a paragraph that leads up to the climactic moment of this child’s first steps.

  • Establish the setting, then focus on the adults, then the child, then the actual first step.

  • Try to capture the parents’ excitement.


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REVISING

  • Include at least one of each of the following sentence types: simple, compound, complex and compound-complex.

  • Include a cluster of at least three longer sentences (20+ words) followed by a very short sentence (<8 words).

  • Include at least two sentences describing visual parallels or contrasts using parallel structures.

  • Include a sentence in which the subject and verb are held for last - the sentence in which the first step occurs.


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EDITING

  • Reread your paragraph, checking for correctness of sentence structure, grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

  • Make any necessary changes.


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DISCUSSION

  • Compare the two paragraphs you have written.

  • Which one does a better job of capturing the excitement of the moment?

  • Why?


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