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Writing

This Guide was created as a joint project of the Academic Resource Center and the William H. Hannon Library.

Expanding Your Draft

Need to write a 7-page paper and have only 3 pages? Try some of the ideas below to expand your draft.

Return to the Assignment

Ask yourself if you have addressed all the elements in the instructor's assignment sheet/prompt.

Deepen Your Analysis

Ask yourself: Am I merely summarizing information? Does my paper not satisfy the "So what?" criteria? If so, try these techniques to add more of you own analysis and commentary:

  1. Try to apply theoretical concepts to real-life situations
  2. When appropriate, evaluate ideas by critically assessing information, or others' opinions and judging their legitimacy
  3. Try synthesizing or combining information from multiple texts or sources, making connections to come up with your own original ideas
  4. Look back at your thesis: see if you can relate the comments you are making to what your paper is trying to prove

Limit Your Scope

Check out this resource to determine if your topic is too narrow, too broad or just right! 

If your topic is too broad, you’ll find yourself writing a lot of general statements that don't say much. For example, in these sentences about the purpose of education in society, the writer isn’t really saying anything original:

  • Education plays a crucial role in society. It is the first place children become socialized into the culture of their environment. They learn the correct way to behave and what is expected of them from the start. 

This overly general topic produces nothing but boring sentences. We already know about the role of education in society. If the writer of the sentence above narrowed their topic and compared the ways students in private, Catholic schools are socialized differently from students in public schools in Los Angeles, the writer would have specific, interesting information to discuss. 

Don’t be afraid to elaborate on and share specialized information only you may possess!

Cut Out Code Phrases & Add Details

Don't assume you and your reader have the same background knowledge to understand everything from your perspective. This may produce "code phrases": highly generalized statements and descriptions that only hint at the complex understanding you have. 

Below is an example of how code phrases can lead to generalizations: 

  • The artists, Yoshitoshi, born in the city of Edo (Tokyo) is best known for his work on Ukiyo-e, the art of woodblock prints. He apprenticed under the artist Kuniyoshi, who taught him the importance of drawing from a more realistic standpoint rather than interpretational, which was usually the norm for Japanese artists. the art of the woodblock prints was very popular and cheap to create.

Above, the writer tells us that Yoshitoshi's style is different from past Japanese artists, but doesn't tell us how they are different or elaborate on those differences. The writer makes what seems to be an important statement and then moves on to another point. The writer assumes we are "super readers" and know as much as she does about these two styles. 

To cut out code words, go through your draft and select a code phrase that needs elaboration. Freewrite for five minutes to flesh out that code phrase and make it as vivid for the reader as it is for you.

Clarify Your Terms

Often a term has more than one meaning, depending on its context. Do not assume that your reader will know which definition of a term you are talking about. It may be necessary to define how you are using a particular key term.