Writing Tips

This semester, you will write several blog posts as well as formal essays. The blog posts will provide a space for thoughtful meanderings and an exploration of various forms of media. However, since this is still a literature course and the written word can be powerful, I will ask you to write using formal language. This means, use complete sentences and document your sources in each post by providing a live link/URL when appropriate. (This is always necessary.)  Below are some other suggestions for coherent writing. Know the rules, then learn how to break them purposefully.

  • ABSOLUTELY AVOID USING A GENERIC DICTIONARY: consult the Oxford English Dictionary Database (requires SJSU log-in) or check Google NGram Viewer
  • Include title and author of work when you begin writing your response
  • A poem title or article title uses quote marks: “Sonnet”
  • A book title or newspaper title uses underline or italics: Frankenstein
  • Use complete sentences (subject, verb, predicate)
  • Try to avoid passive voice (is/are/was/were — any form of to be)
  • Absolutely avoid sentence fragments
  • Use proper paragraph divisions where necessary
  • Explain your point fully
  • Do not summarize the readings; write knowing that I already have very intimate knowledge of the readings
  • “I don’t know” does not = a response
  • Avoid referring to yourself when you write these responses
  • Definitely avoid using “I believe,” “I think,” “I feel”
  • Use quotations from the novels when necessary
  • Introduce quotes and/or paraphrases
  • Use MLA style when quoting from the novel
  • When punctuating anything with quote marks, the punctuation goes inside the quote marks (except in the case of the citation)

The Writing Center offers 30 min appointments to help with your writing. Take your assignment instructions, your writing, and a good attitude. Make appointments online! Also, check out their list of handouts to help you with grammar or mechanics such as fragments.

When in doubt, look up MLA style questions on Purdue’s OWL

SJSU Writing Center

The SJSU Writing Center is located in Clark Hall, Suite 126. All Writing Specialists have gone through a rigorous hiring process, and they are well trained to assist all students at all levels within all disciplines to become better writers. In addition to one-on-one tutoring services, the Writing Center also offers workshops every semester on a variety of writing topics. To make an appointment or to refer to the numerous online resources offered through the Writing Center, visit the Writing Center website: http://www.sjsu.edu/writingcenter. Here, you can access several handouts to help with grammar, mechanics, formatting guidelines, and other helpful sources. For additional resources and updated information, follow the Writing Center on Twitter and become a fan of the SJSU Writing Center on Facebook.