10. Avoid colloquialisms. “This is a totally cool novel” is a great statement to make to a friend. In an academic essay, however, it is jarring. It is also extremely annoying to see smiley faces and bunches of exclamation signs in academic writing. Try to convey your emotions with words and not with signs. Also, when I see “LOL” and “LMAO” in an academic essay, I see red. What am I, your Facebook buddy?
11. Avoid cliches. Statements like “Since time immemorial. . .” or “since the dawn of its existence, the genre. . .” sound horrible. If you don’t perceive them as such, this means you need to start reading a lot of good writing. As a former lover of such horrible cliches, this is what I did to learn to recognize and avoid them.
12. Start strong. People have little time and short attention spans nowadays. At the same time, people tend to value their own investment. You need to do all you can to avoid losing your readers’ attention for as long as you can. Once you’ve got them to be interested in the first couple of pages, they are likely to continue reading. This means that the first few paragraphs are absolutely crucial. Try to make them as engaging as you can. Don’t hide your most valuable insights at the end of the essay. (This is something I’m still struggling with.)
13. Avoid interspersing your writing with endless “basically” and “actually.” More often than not, these words mean nothing. Yet some people tend to add them to every other sentence which is beyond annoying. The same goes for “kind of”, “sort of” and “or whatever.”
14. Can the drama. You have no idea how often I receive essays where people spend up to a page describing the problems they faced reading the text I asked them to analyze: “At first, I didn’t understand this reading at all. It made me feel completely stupid because I had no idea what it meant. I read it again and still understood nothing. I was about to give up when I realized. . .” Unless the topic of the essay is “The issues I faced when trying to understand the text and how I dealt with them,” just can the drama and do the work.
15. Avoid repetitions. This has been a huge issue for me, people. Good writing is never repetitive. Each new sentence brings something new to the piece. It makes no sense to write a sentence that does nothing but repeat what you have already said. You need to trust that your readers are not complete idiots and are capable of understanding on a first try. As I said, I find it hard to believe that about people. You see, how annoying repetitive writing is? This is why whenever you feel tempted to say “As I already said”, you might wonder why you are saying it again.
16. Read a lot of good academic writing and pay special attention to how this author structures sentences and paragraphs.
I’ve got to run now but if people have any other suggestions, please share them.
P.S. If you feel tempted to ask why I don’t observe these rules on this blog, the answer is: because this isn’t academic writing. I can be as repetitive and colloquial as I please. LMAO.