There has been for quite a while a short page of notes here at Logic Matters, intended for graduate students (or indeed for anyone) on writing essays, thesis chapters, draft papers. I recently noticed that it is still visited two or three thousand times a year, so I guess there must be links to it out there! So I thought it was worth taking a quick look at it again and revising it just a little. Here’s the not-very-revised version.
1 thought on “Developing a writing style”
As an experiment, I decided to apply some of the advice — prefer shorter words, cut words that can be cut, don’t use the passive when the active will do, and make it read better aloud — to the following sequence of sentences:
Since thoughts of reading aloud led to thoughts or oratory — when repetition is not shunned — I went against the advice to avoid repetition. The result:
I might even argue that as the sentences become longer, the repetition brings them back to a common point, making the whole easier to follow.
OTOH, it no longer sounds quite like Peter Smith. That’s not an implied criticism of either version: I think it reflects the difference between ‘a writing style’ and ‘good style’. ‘A writing style’ is distinctive, at least to some extent, while ‘good style’ is more about avoiding (or correcting) certain problems, and producing something well-structured and clear.