Writing skills are essential for succeeding in high school, college, and at a job. If essays and papers stress you out, keep in mind, writing is not just an end result, but also a process that helps you develop your ideas and think logically.
Begin by brainstorming topics, collecting information, taking a lot of notes, and asking a lot of questions. Keep your notes and sources organized as you go.
When developing your topic, look for patterns and relationships. See what conclusions you can draw. Try discussing your ideas with classmates or your teacher. A new perspective can help shake up your thinking, and keep your momentum going.
Develop an outline to help you stay on track as you write, identifying your main points and what you want to conclude. Keep in mind basic essay and paper structure:
You may find as you write that you end up with a different idea than the one you began with. If your first topic or conclusion doesn't hold water, be open to changing it. If necessary, re-write your outline to get yourself back on track.
Other important writing tips:
When you're done, take a break so you can come back to your writing with fresh eyes. Ask yourself:
Leave enough time to show your draft to others -- use your school's writing center, if possible. A fresh perspective can help you polish your paper, and catch inconsistencies and mistakes.
What you read influences how you write and can become your teacher without you being aware of it. For example, if you read Great Expectations before writing a paper your writing will probably start to sound similar to Charles Dickens'. Of course the same goes if you read "Teen People."
Note sure what to read? If you liked a book you read in class, ask your teachers to recommend others like it, or read more by the same author. For ideas on great reading check out our 101 Great Books list.
Reading is also a great way to conquer writers' block. Reading helps exercise your mind and get your ideas moving again. Of course, a great way to prevent writers' block is to write more.
You've heard it before, but this advice never gets old: practice makes perfect. The more writing you do, the better you'll get. And as your skills improve, so will your enjoyment. Here are a few ways some students write outside the classroom that you might want to consider:
When you're in the habit of writing -- no matter what kind of writing it is -- papers and essays won't seem as difficult.
Below are some basic writing "rules," along with an example of the rule being broken. Learn how to avoid these common mistakes.
|1. Be Consistent|
|Sequence of Tenses||After he broke his arm, he is home for two weeks.|
|Shift of Pronoun||If one is tense, they should try to relax.|
|Parallelism||She skis, plays tennis, and flying hang gliders.|
|Noun Agreement||Eric and James want to be a pilot.|
|Pronoun Reference||Several people wanted the job, and he or she filled out the required applications.|
|Subject-Verb Agreement||There is eight people on the shore.|
|2. Express Ideas Logically|
|Coordination and Subordination||Jen has a rash, and she is probably allergic to something.|
|Logical Comparison||Joey grew more vegetables than his neighbor's garden.|
|Modification and Word Order||Barking loudly, the tree had the dog's leash wrapped around it.|
|3. Be Clear and Precise|
|Ambiguous and Vague Pronouns||In the newspaper they say that few people voted.|
|Diction||He circumvented the globe on his trip.|
|Wordiness||There are many problems in the contemporary world in which we live.|
|Improper Modification||If your car is parked here while not eating in the restaurant, it will be towed away.|
|4. Follow Conventions|
|Pronoun Case||He sat between you and I at the stadium.|
|Idiom||Jack had a different opinion towards him.|
|Comparison of Modifiers||Of the sixteen executives, Gretchen makes more money.|
|Sentence Fragment||Abby having to go home early.|
|Double Negative||Andie has scarcely no free time.|
If you're not sure whether you're following the rules of writing correctly, be sure to ask your teachers or parents for help.
Writing is a process with several steps to follow. This workshop allows you to work through all the steps in the writing process with online resources. You can start at step one and work through the rest of the steps in order, or you can jump in to the workshop at any step where you would like some help or ideas.
This is what you can find in each section:
Sometimes, finding an idea is the hardest part of writing a story. Most writers say you should write about what interests you or about what you know. The Internet is a fantastic place to go looking for inspiration! Spend some time checking out these pages that link to hundreds of sites of interest to kids. When you find a site you like, start imagining yourself or another character in the place you are visiting. A great way to start is by asking the question, "What if...?"
HINT: If you are serious about writing a story, try to focus your exploration on finding an idea. There is so much to see and do here that you might never get beyond these pages unless you keep your goal in mind.
Search for information on your topic.
BEST SEARCH ENGINES...JUST CLICK AND SEARCH!
This is not the part where you run the spellchecker! In fact, revising a story has nothing to do with correcting spelling mistakes. The word "revise" really means to take another look at something. If you are not satisfied with your story, this is the step where you add details, dialogue or action to make the story more interesting. Sometimes it means cutting out parts of the story that don't work. You will make a second or third draft of the story--sometimes more! Most writers say they spend more time revising than writing the first draft.
One of the best ways to take another look at your story is to get someone else's opinion. On the Internet, you can find keypals or other ways to meet kids who can read your stories and tell you what they think.
One of the greatest things about the Internet for young authors is that you can really publish and share your finished stories with an audience from around the world. Here you will find links to online magazines that accept stories, poems, or articles by young writers. In most cases, your writing will be sent as an e-mail attachment.