Monday, September 17, 2012

Trust the reader: Jump right in

Your reader knows (hopes?) you researched and prepared to write your essay. And that you edited and revised your work before releasing it into the world. You did, right?

Much like avoiding the phrase "I remember," when you write memoir, you do not need to include basic, explanatory phrases about how you learned outside information. That is, unless it is relevant (for example, if you conducted an interview.) Instead, the reader wants to know where the information originated, outside of your happening upon it.

Here are some phrases in student papers that can be eliminated for clarity and to make room to better investigate your subject:

"And then I noticed the book and opened it (...)"
"Then I read the article and it said (...)"
"I followed the link to (...)"
"I went to the library and found this book (...)"
"I googled this word and then found this article (...)"

You should, of course, always cite your sources with clear signal phrases and appropriate citations. In some of these cases above, you can transform the introductory phrases into signal phrases. For example, you could write: Dr. Y, archeologist with X organization, states in Z publication, "..." The reader now knows where the information came from and why the source is a believable authority because the signal phrase with this information has been integrated into your text.

Trust your reader to follow along. Jump right into what you are writing. 

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