Monday, May 30, 2005

How to Write

It's tough to admit it, but sometimes my writing doesn't make much sense, especially when I'm talking about my science. I recently read a paper that was passed through our department on how to write, and it was so good (and well written) that I want to pass on some of the main principles (copied from the end of the article).

1. Follow a grammatical subject as soon as possible with its verb.
2. Place in the stress position the "new information" you want the reader to emphasize.
3. Place the person or thing whose "story" a sentence is telling at the beginning of the sentence, in the topic position.
4. Place appropriate "old information" (material already stated in the discourse) in the topic position for linkage backward and contextualization forward.
5. Articulate the action of every clause or sentence in its verb.
6. In general, provide context for your reader before asking that reader to consider anything new.
7. In general, try to ensure that the relative emphases of the substance coincide with the relative expectations for emphasis raised by the structure.

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