Writing Center

Faculty Advice for English Papers


In this blog post, we continue gathering writing tips from the perspectives of professors on campus. Dr. Stephen Yandell, an associate professor from the English department, shares his advice for writing English papers below. Read his response and consider his advice as you write your next paper! --Kara H.


WC: What is the most important writing tip you would like to share with students writing an English paper?


Dr. Yandell: Writing takes work, either for the writer or the reader.  You choose: by doing work on the front end, you’re able to offer text that readers can consume with little effort.  Otherwise, what’s created in a single draft typically requires a lot of work for the reader.  Anticipating this means you can also give yourself permission to get a first, messy draft into existence as early as possible.  It’s messy for everyone in the first stage.  In that messy draft, feel free to muse about the most obvious things you might say—things your readers will already agree with you about.  Then challenge yourself to push past that, considering claims that may seem outrageous or put you far out on a limb.  In the midst of that back and forth, you will often find a strong, creative, defensible claim.


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