Write with a knife

It's that time of year again, when students all over the country are facing their first writing assignment. I always encourage a bloggy style -- concise, journalistic, and thesis-driven.

Well, I don't even manage that ideal myself a lot of the time, but here's some useful writing advice from Copyblogger. First, "Do long blog posts scare away readers?". Well, they don't scare away mine, but I can always use suggestions for how to punch things up (or, like overleavened dough, down).

So I highly recommend the follow-up, "How to write with a knife". One piece of advice I like:

  1. Cut the first paragraph
...Try cutting the first paragraph or two from your post and see what happens. You may find a much more powerful opening.

That technique would work wonders for more than half the student papers I grade. I always underline the thesis statement (or at least the best facsimile of one I can find) and an awful lot of the time, it's there at the beginning or end of the second paragraph.

There are six more recommendations at the link, and I can see my students in every one of them. (Not to mention myself).