Category Archives: Persuasive Essay

Famous Dead Authors’ Secrets for Writing Success

By Sara, My Web Writers Intern

It has been said that writers are born, not made. Some take that to mean that you are either born with talent, or you may as well not try. That’s probably bunk. If writers are born, they are born out of the sweat and tears of determination and practice. Whether you are drumming up SEO content or working on the next great American novel, writing well and employing the habits of effective writing are essential.

First, it’s important to practice.

Practice keeps you in the habit of writing and thinking about writing. Nineteenth century author C.S. Lewis, most famous for The Chronicles of Narnia, says that “what you want is practice, practice, practice. It doesn’t matter what we write… so long as we write continually as well as we can. I feel that every time I write a page either of prose or of verse, with real effort, even if it’s thrown into the fire the next minute, I am so much further on.”

Another prolific writer, recently deceased Saul Bellow, observed that “somewhere in his journals Dostoyevsky remarks that a writer can begin anywhere, at the most commonplace thing, scratch around in it long enough, pray and dig away long enough, and lo! soon he will hit upon the marvelous.” When you practice the craft of writing and pay diligence to it, you grow. Even if you write tweets for a business firm, you are bound to come up with more unique, interesting, and creative content when you practice. Imagine an athlete who only played her sport at game time — she wouldn’t be good at it and would not be long rewarded for her “efforts.” So practice, practice, practice. Start now. Call it writers’ Spring Training.

Having some “filler” in your drafts is o.k.

It’s certainly tempting for any writer to stop when we have so-called “writer’s block.” Larry Gelbart, though, says “don’t stop.” He wants us to put something there and keep moving. Recently I wrote an article on decade themed parties and decided to employ Gelbart’s advice. I could have stopped and stared at the computer screen when I was stumped on what to write about a 1970s party that wouldn’t be a tired cliché. Instead, I wrote, “too much Footloose not enough Studio 54,” and moved on to the 1980s. Later, while editing and revising, I realized Footloose wasn’t even set in the ’70s, but I understood where my mind was headed. If I had tried to flush that out in the first draft, I’d still be writing it. Listen to Larry. Use filler and keep writing.

Beware of clichés.

“Beware of clichés…. There are clichés of response as well as expression. There are clichés of observation and of thought — even of conception. Many novels, even quite a few adequately written ones, are clichés of form which conform to clichés of expectation.”

-Geoff Dyer

Geoff Dyer is not dead (here is his website), but this advice was too good not to share. Clichés are death to all that is interesting. I can’t say that clichés are never ok, because writing, like most art, only deals in absolutes for the strict business of breaking them. That being said, clichés are never ok. “It goes without saying” that the “early bird catches the worm” and “curiosity killed the cat” so a true “jack of all trades” would never to “keep up with Joneses” by recycling tired clichés.

If it goes without saying, then please, please, just don’t say it.

Ctrl-F and Delete those Adjectives

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

-Anton Chekhov

Adjectives are not the enemy here (Hint: its clichés). Adjectives can be a crutch, though. I recently read an article about a mama raccoon saving her litter of baby raccoons during a bout of bad weather. It passed through my twitter feed with the phrase, “mother raccoon shields her litter on turnpike from cold,” so of course I read it. I read it and said “awwww… how heartwarming and precious!” If the tweet had falling back on adjective addiction, I probably wouldn’t have clicked on the link following “Heartwarming and precious tale of courage.”

“Don’t say it was delightful; make us say delightful when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, ‘please, will you do the job for me?'”

-C.S. Lewis

Reflect on What You Wrote

In Politics and the English Language, George Orwell claims that a “scrupulous writer” will constantly, even after every sentence (so definitely before sending that tweet), ask him or herself four questions. I leave you with those four questions to take back to your own stack of papers and document files (and practice!):

What am I trying to say?

  1. What words will express it?
  2. What image or idiom will make it clearer?
  3. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?

Other Articles from My Web Writers:

Tweet for ReTweets- Twitter Tips

My Favorite Writer and Online Marketing Websites and Blogs

What Stephen Covey Knew about Marketing

Tell a Better Story: Tips and Tricks from Mark Twain

Overcoming the Beautiful Little Fool

Annual Essay Contests You Shouldn’t Miss

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Audience, Capturing Audience, Conclusions, Descriptive Writing, Expository Writing, Narrative Writing, Persuasive Essay, Revising & Proofreading, The Writing Process, Web Writers, Writer's Block

Follow this Basic Style Guide for Writing in APA

by My Web Writers

Image Courtesy of the American Psychological Association- APAstyle.org

APA style is used broadly among academics, students, and researchers working in the social sciences and allows for the proper citation of the findings of others in a recognizable format. APA style breaks papers into manageable sections that help writers to effectively organize their thoughts and allow readers to more easily navigate material. Here are the basics to get you started.

APA papers should…

–          Be typed with 12-point font.

–          Use 8.5 x 11 inch paper with one-inch margins.

–          Contain a running header. The header should include the title of the paper flushed left and the paper number flushed right. The title page should be numbered page 1.

–          Contain four sections: Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.

Title Page

–          The title page should contain the running head. Note that the title should be in all capital letters.

–          The following—title, authors first, last name, and middle initial if applicable, and institution affiliation—should be centered at the upper half of the paper and should appear on separate lines.

–          The title page should be double spaced.

Running Head: TITLE OF YOUR PAPER                                             1

Title

Betty Ann Sue

University of the North Pole

Abstract

–          An abstract should be between 150 – 200 words.

–          It should include a summary of the paper’s main research points.

–          Do not indent the abstract.

–          List key words at the bottom of the text by indenting, writing keywords in italics and then listing them.

 Main Body

–          The paper should begin with the title centered below the header.

–          Use headings for each section of the paper.

–          Double space.

In-Text Citations

In-text citations include the author’s last name, year of publication and page number. The year of publication is specifically important to the social science field because it helps readers to quickly identify whether or not research is current. Here are a few samples.

According to Patterson (2001), “The subjects exhibited nervous behavior in unfamiliar environments” (p. 56).

Patterson (2001) found that “the subjects exhibited nervous behavior in unfamiliar environments” (p. 56); this is different from his earlier studies.

He stated, “The subjects exhibited nervous behavior in unfamiliar environments” (Patterson, 2001, p. 56); this is different from his earlier studies.

Reference List

–          The reference list appears on a separate sheet at the end of the paper.

–          The title should be centered and plain text.

–          Citations should be double-spaced with no extra spaces between citations.

–          Entries should be alphabetized by the last name of the first author listed for each resource.

–          Make sure you have an entry for each resource cited in your text.

–          For entries that are more than one line, all the subsequent lines should be indented one-half inch.

–          EasyBib is a free site that generates reference pages in a variety of writing styles. Using this resource may save time when compiling a reference list.

Check out the basic web and book formats below.

The format for citing a web resource is:

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of Online Periodical, volume number (issue number if available). Retrieved from http://www.includeaddresswithfullurl

The format for citing a book is:

Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle. Location: Publisher.

~Lindsey

2 Comments

Filed under Citing Sources, Expository Writing, Persuasive Essay, Research Tips, Revising & Proofreading, Technical Writing, The Writing Process, White Papers

What Every Writer Should Remember from Freshmen English

By My Web Writers

Photo courtesy of SingleMomFinance.com

If your high school textbooks are gathering dust or long recycled, and you can’t remember how exactly you spent those arduous academic days, it may be time to brush up on a few of the basics from high school English, even if just to see which rules have changed.

In high school, teachers break down the components of a piece of writing so that students will have a vocabulary to help them in the writing and revision process. Seasoned writers can also benefit from evaluating their work with these tools. Let’s take a look at some of these components.

Audience

The audience is the group of people you expect or want to read your work. It is usually good to have an age group, education level, and some demographics in mind. This can be as simple as people who like pie or more specific like women with children in their thirties and forties. Regardless, your language and ideas need to be appropriate for the people you expect to read your work.

Consider what background information may be necessary, what important terms may need defining, and what kind of voice will appeal to your audience. When writing for a medical journal, the language and ideas may be more complex, because the writer assumes that readers have a certain level of familiarity with the discipline. Whereas when explaining a complex medical condition in an article on al site geared toward the general public, more familiar language may be used along with metaphors and similes that make the information accessible to those without a medical education.

If you’re worried about accessing a specific grade-level, Microsoft Word has a handy tool that estimates the grade-level and readability of your writing based on word, sentence, and paragraph complexity.  This can be enabled when you click on File, Options, Proofing, and check Readability Statistics. These statistics appear after you spell check your document.

 Purpose

What is your piece trying to accomplish? After reading, do you want readers to buy a specific brand of shoe, agree with a political argument, or know how to bake a cake? This should be clear to you the writer and should be stated directly or indirectly in your work. In an academic paper, the purpose is often encountered in the thesis statement. A thesis states what the paper plans to prove or explain. It is usually located at the end of the introduction paragraph.

 Organization

Regardless of the kind of writing you are doing, some method of organization is always necessary. Some common structures include, cause and effect, chronological order, and compare and contrast.  A recipe is usually organized with an ingredient list and then the steps are described in chronological order. A blog post about a political issue may compare and contrast the two sides of an issue by spending the first section explaining one side of the issue, it’s pros and cons, and then in the next section considering the other side.

In essays, each paragraph usually proves or addresses an aspect of the argument. One or more paragraphs may represent a point the author is trying to prove. Once that point has been supported, the writer is ready to begin a new paragraph.

 Evidence and Analysis

Any work that is making a claim requires some kind of evidence and analysis. Evidence includes the facts that support an argument. Analysis is the author’s explanation of why the evidence is important or how it relates to the argument. Evidence helps the writer to establish his or her authority and support ideas. Analysis helps the reader to make the same connections between the argument and the evidence that the writer is making.

 Grammar and Spell Check

Grammar and spelling mistakes can be off-putting for readers and threaten a writer’s credibility, especially where there are so many resources at hand to aid in proofreading.  Remember that different styles of writing often have different rules and call for different styles of documentation. Style guides are available on writing center websites for many colleges and universities. Purdue Online Writing Lab has an especially good guide for APA and MLA styles. Remember that Microsoft Word has spelling and grammar check, but doesn’t catch everything and sometimes makes unnecessary changes. So it is always good to proofread again. And of course, never turn in a piece that you haven’t read more than once.

Happy writing.  Class dismissed.

~Lindsey

1 Comment

Filed under Audience, Capturing Audience, Content, Expository Writing, Grammar, Introductions, Persuasive Essay, Revising & Proofreading, Technical Writing, Writing Careers, Writing Resources

Nab These Call to Action Verbs

By My Web Writers

Spice Up Your Meta Descriptions

After writing your fiftieth, meta description using the verbs “buy”, “look”, and “find”, you’re probably snoring.  Imagine how customers feel.  If just one of the below “vacation rentals” entries sparkled, it would capture a gold medal for creativity and extra site visits.

Capture Visitors with Enticing Action Verbs

Retailers lose income opportunities when potential customers ignore blah snippets.  Even a lower ranked snippet can capture additional clicks if its meta description and titles are alluring. Bookmark these engaging verbs for use in your web writing efforts.

Absorb Accept Acquire
Amaze Add Ask
Attract Bestow Borrow
Browse Charge Claim
Clean Click Clip
Collide Cook Copy
Create Deliver Design
Determine Discover Disrobe
Download Dream Drive
Earn Embark Empty
Engage Enroll Execute
Extract Fall Fatten
Visit Flirt Follow
Fondle Gallop Gamble
Gather Gobble Grab
Guess Hobble Hop
Hurdle Hurl Hustle
Inquire Jingle Juggle
Jump Learn Lease
Lie Listen Locate
Lose Move Nab
Obtain Park Peek
Polish Print Publish
Punt Push Query
Realize Redeem Refresh
Register Rent Sample
Save Search Seek
Shimmy Skip Slink
Smell Snap Sneak
Speak Steal Stomp
Store Swallow Trample
Uncover Unveil Watch
Wet Whisk Win

Shake up the use of verbs to capture more clicks and entertain your customers!

~Jean

3 Comments

Filed under Content, Descriptive Writing, E-Tail Category Content, Persuasive Essay, Product Descriptions, Words Which Sell

White Papers à la Persuasive Essay

by

Looking for a great model for the structure of your white paper? Look to the way in which one writes a persuasive essay. After all, as Michael Stelzner, a leading authority on the topic of writing white papers, states in his pdf entitled How to Write a White Paper, “[a] white paper must contain informative and persuasive information. The goal of a white paper is to lead the reader toward the conclusion that your product or service will best meet his or her needs.” Similarly, a persuasive essay also aims to persuade the reader to adopt a certain point of view or to take a particular action. Given that white papers and persuasive essays share the common goal of shaping a view point, then following the structure of a persuasive essay results in the kind of compelling white paper that you want. Let’s look at the crucial components needed in the construction of a successful persuasive essay and transfer them to the creation of a white paper.

Effective Introduction
Much like in a persuasive essay, the first paragraph of your white paper should always contain a statement of your writing’s purpose. Choose wisely as this statement serves multiple purposes.

1) It lets the reader know the topic of discussion.
2) It keeps you from wandering outside of the scope of relative information.
3) It helps organize the entirety of the white paper.

In a white paper, the typical thesis would address a real problem faced by consumers and/or businesses whose solution, presented in the white paper, proves your product or service to be the best choice.

However, since you are asking the reader to stay with you for anywhere from 1 to 12 pages, throw in a sentence or two that grabs their attention.  Waterford Union High School’s library staff gives a great list of ways in which a persuasive essay’s introduction can grab the reader’s attention when writing the persuasive essay. They suggest that you open with –

  • an unusual detail,
  • a strong statement
  • a quotation
  • an anecdote that is short and to the point,
  • a statistic or fact,
  • a question, or
  • an exaggeration or outrageous statement.

Depending upon the tone of your white paper, any one of these persuasive essay attention grabbers could be used.

Helpful Executive Summary
At this point, do yourself and the reader a favor by writing an executive summary paragraph. An executive summary previews the main points of any document aimed at persuading its audience. The executive summary should provide the reader with enough information to get familiarized with what the white paper discusses without having to read it in its entirety. Why is this important? Given the amount of text that crosses an individual’s path in any one day, people don’t have time to read every single word. Our generation filters worthwhile content through skimming and scanning. The executive summary allows the reader to recognize the value of your white paper early on and, when given more time, will read the entire thing. An executive summary also benefits you, the content writers or writer. The white paper’s executive summary serves to keep you from wandering outside of the established parameters of the topic of discussion, thus filling it with only relevant material.

Strong, Supporting Body
Who can forget the 1980’s Wendy’s commercials demanding to know Where’s the Beef? If you have advertised a big juicy hamburger, give them a big juicy hamburger. Make sure that the fancy bun of the white paper’s introduction and executive summary doesn’t open up to reveal a lot of nothingness. The body is where you present supporting evidence that proves two things :
1) your arguments are reasonable and reliable and
2) your expertise in the target industry.

Thorough, well-researched and well-examined evidence substantiates the premise of your white paper and provides a compelling reason for why your reader should be doing business with you.

The tools most effective in substantiating your position are –

  • logical arguments,
  • statistics,
  • examples or where your product or solution is beneficial,
  • expert opinions, and
  • personal observations or testimonials.

Keep in mind that, in keeping with the reader-friendliness of your white paper, add a picture or other visual elements to the body of your white paper. Whether it be graphs, charts, pictures, and sidebars, these elements strengthen, clarify, support, and add visual interest to your white paper.

Memorable Conclusion
Given that this is the last chance to influence position of the reader with respect to the information you have to share, the conclusion has to be rock-solid. As with any good persuasive essay conclusion,

  • don’t introduce new ideas or material,
  • simply restate the point of view communicated in the introduction, and
  • briefly summarize the details of the body’s information that substantiates the view point you aim to see the reader espouse.

However, this is where the white paper diverges from the framework of a persuasive essay. Whereas a persuasive essay ends with a tone of completion, a white paper, written for marketing purposes, strives to continue or open up a dialogue with potential clients with a call to action. The determination of your call to action depends upon what you want the reader to do next. If your white paper seeks to educate the reader prior to investing in a product or service, then provide a checklist of the important things outlined in your white paper will help the potential customer hit all of the points that prove the benefits of your service or product to be the best solution to the problem. The call to action could be a question which causes one to ascertain how the material presented in the white paper improves one’s life or adds value to one’s business. Your white paper’s call to action could simply be an invitation to view your website, request further information, or speak directly with a company representative.  All of that contact information should be found in your white paper. However  you close out your white paper, make sure it leaves a positive impression since this final message will be playing in the reader’s mind long after he or she stops reading.

Writing white papers isn’t for everyone. Although simple in the fact that a white paper benefits from following the framework of a persuasive essay; word choice, grammar, flow, and the synthesizing of research findings can cause some people to turn down the writing of a white paper. If that describes you, outsource the writing of your white paper to a company who specializes in copywrite service and web copy service. Not quite ready to give up? Good for you! Just brush up on your English teacher’s lesson on a persuasive essay and your white paper is ready to take shape.

~Marni

Leave a comment

Filed under Persuasive Essay, White Papers