Effective Writing Skills

Troy University
Troy, AL 36082
Trio - Student Support Services
To review the content of the educational video
entitled “Effective Writing Skills.”
To help students distinguish between “writing” and
“good writing.”
To define the three (3) categories of Rules -Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics -- as they relate
to “structurally sound” writing.
To present eleven (11) principles that impact
writing Style
Writing – definition: “a means of
communicating with others”
Good writing – “a valuable skill that will
benefit you in any profession”
Three Categories of
that make Writing
Structurally Sound . . .
• Grammar
• Usage
• Mechanics
GRAMMAR -- (Rules
that structure
language) – The
English language has
many rules that you
must follow to
communicate in
Standard American
English (SAE).
USAGE – The rules that designate how
language should be presented in
writing / Formal or literary English
with clearly constructed sentences,
that require the following:
◦ No slang or contractions
◦ Complete sentences (no fragments) – An
Independent clause is required.
◦ No use of subordinating conjunctions such
as “So” or “And” to start sentences
that establish how words
should appear on paper.
◦ The first word in a sentence
is capitalized.
◦ Correct punctuation marks
should be used to denote
type of sentence. Indent
. . . that Impact Writing Style:
Active Voice vs. Passive Voice
Parallel Construction
Sentence Patterns
Positive Statements
Word Selection
Connotation vs. Denotation
Relation of Ideas
Metaphors and Similes
Active voice (write in this voice because it
makes sentences more powerful and
assertive). Put the agent of the action first in
the sentence. Example: Julie drove the car.
Passive voice (uses a form of “to be” and
distances the subject from the action or
identifies the agent of an action at the end of
a sentence.
Example: The car was driven by Julie.
Parallel structure or Construction – Adds clarity to sentences and helps
reduce awkwardness of sentences.
It requires pairing similar grammatical forms.
Useful when comparing/contrasting ideas because it adds balance to
Uses correlative conjunctions such as either or, but also, and also may
require repeating certain words in a sentence to add clarity.
Riding a jet ski is more exciting than hiking in the mountains.
Charlamagne was not only wise, but ambitious and courageous.
Sentence Patterns -- Use a variety of
sentence patterns to add interest to sentence
and develop writing styles.
Positive Statements -- Couch words in the
affirmative phrasing when possible.
Word Selection (Word Choice) – Use the most
appropriate word that suits tone, fits the
rhetorical situation (audience, purpose,
genre, etc.) and appeals to readers senses
(create imagery)
Connotation versus Denotation (meaning) –
Connotations (the underlying implied
meaning); Denotation (definition of a word)
Use of Modifiers -- use modifiers as
needed, but not to excess. All word do not
need a modifier. Use verbs that evoke
sensory details and that are precise. Do not
engage in wordiness.
Relation of Ideas (Cohesion/Coherence/Logic)
-- Use transitions (connectives) to help
readers follow your writing. Also,
punctuation can help support reading logic.
Metaphors and Similes (figures of
speech/figurative language) -- Appeal to the
imagination and help readers visualize.
Similes use like or as to creative a comparison
relationship between different elements.
Metaphor does not use like or as, but directly
compares two unlike elements
Cliches (Overused Expressions and
colloquialisms) -- An expression so
overused it is worn out and trite. They lack
originality. Examples: (1) That’s easier said
than done. (2)She was older, but wiser. (3)
To make a long story short, she was green
with envy.
Content (Substance) – Try not to be
redundant/empty in your writing.
Add substance.
Avoid deadwood in writing.
Stay focused on your theme.
Be straightforward and succinct (to the
Once you understand basic rules of
grammar, usage and mechanics, you
can concentrate on style.
Principles of Style (principles of good
writing) -- Generalizations about
what good writers do, but not
necessarily about rules
Educational Video Network, Inc. 2005 www.evndirect.com
SSS hopes this presentation has given you
some useful information.
Feel free to suggest any other topics that you
would like to see presented. Stop in the Office
located in 109 Shackelford Hall Annex or
Phone: 334-670-5985.
Have a great learning experience here at Troy