Unit 1: Five Elements of Good



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Unit 1: Five Elements of Good Writing Developed by
• Mr. Sam Oeun UK (MA in TESOL)
• HP 098 555 936/ 092 649 601
• Email samoeun.uk@gmail.com
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Content In this unit, you will learn five elements of good writing
1. Purpose
2. Audience
3. Clarity
4. Unity
5. Coherence
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Element 1: Purpose
• For writers to stay focused on the topic, they must understand the purpose that they are trying to accomplish.
• The purpose is the goal the writer is trying to achieve.
• The three most common purposes of academic writing are
1. To inform
2. To persuade
3. To entertain
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Paragraph 1 (Process) Grilling Preparing a grill fora summer cookout is easy if you follow certain steps. First, it is important to start with a clean grill, so you should remove all rust from the grilling surface. After removing the top rack, place one layer of briquettes in the bottom rack. Stack the briquettes in a pyramid shape with the highest point at the center of the grill. Once the briquettes have been stacked, cover them with lighter fluid. Make sure fluid is not near any open flame as you cover the charcoal. After the charcoal has been soaked in fluid, use along match or along lighter to ignite it. Be careful not to burn yourself since the fumes of the lighter fluid may ignite before the charcoal catches fire. Next, wait for the flames to die out and the charcoal to turn white. Finally, spread the briquettes out in an even layer and replace the top rack. Once you have followed these simple steps, you are ready to grill.
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Activity 1: Read the paragraph and answer the questions.
1. What is the writers purpose in writing this paragraph
2. Does the writer stay focused on one idea or topic If not, explain where the writer gets off topic.
3. Do you think the writer achieved his or her goal in writing this paragraph
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1.1 Purpose Statement
• Writers often create ab purpose statement

before they write.
• A purpose statement is a short sentence that clearly defines the purpose of the paragraph, which is the reason that you are writing this information.
• The purpose statement will help you to stay within your topic and maintain the focus of your writing.
• Purpose statements are simple and to the point. For example, if you are going to write a paragraph about how to clean your room, your purpose statement would read something like this
The purpose of this paragraph is to explain how to
clean your room.
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Here are some sample topics followed by example purpose statements (PS Topic How to play fish PS The purpose of this paragraph is to explain to the reader how to play the card game called fish. Topic The effects of insufficient sleep PS The purpose of this paragraph is to tell the negative effects or results of not getting enough sleep each day. Topic The messiest room that I have ever seen. PS The purpose of this paragraph is to describe the messiest room that I have ever seen.
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Activity 2: Read each of following topics. Then write a purpose statement for each.
1. Topic Your craziest experience in a restaurant
Purpose statement The purpose of this
paragraph is to tell about the time that
my uncle started a food fight in a
restaurant.
2. Topic Alternative resources of energy
3. Topic The most important invention of the last century
4. Topic My worst family vacation
5. Topic The effects of smoking
6. Topic How to learn up to fifty idioms per day
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Element 2: Audience
• The term audience refers to the readers that the writer expects to read the paragraph.
• Good writers know who their audience is before they start writing.
• Consider these two main techniques for establishing audience
1. Person (first, second, or third)
2. Formal or Informal
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2.1 Person
• Writers can choose among three different
persons, or point of view, when writing.
• The first person refers to the person or thing that is speaking.
• First-person pronoun (I, we) or first-person possessive adjectives (my and our.
• Paragraphs that explain personal experience often use the first person. Yesterday I went to the beach with my girlfriend.
First-person words
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• The second person refers to the person or thing that is being spoken to.
• It is usually used to give directions or instructions.
• The second person is often used for informal writing.
• Second-person pronouns (you and yours) and the second-person possessive adjective (your.
• Process paragraphs often use the second person (with or without the pronoun you) After filling the sink, you must then add detergent.
Second-person word
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• The third person refers to the person or thing that is being spoken about.
• Think of the third personas someone telling a story about another person or thing.
• Third-person pronouns (he, she, it, they, him, her, them, his, hers, theirs) and third-person possessive adjectives (his, her, their.
• Most academic paragraph use third person.
He turned quickly and saw them leaving the theatre.

Third-person words
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Activity 3: Following sentences change person within the sentence unnecessary shifts in person. Rewrite the sentence, changing the incorrect pronoun. (Hint Pay careful attention to the pronouns in the sentences)
1. When a person goes shopping, you should always look for sales.
____________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________
2. One should carpool if you want to save on gas.
_____________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________
3. Doctors warn people that you should watch what you eat.
_____________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________
4. Jeff brought pizza home for dinner. He told his mother that you should wait until it cooled down before eating it.
_____________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________
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Choosing Person in Formal or Informal Writing
• Most of the writing that you do for school is considered formal writing.
• The first person is generally used in writing a personal story or description.
• Inmost cases, academic writing uses formal techniques in the third person.
• If you are unsure about the formality level of an assignment, ask your instruction
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• Certain topics work better using a particular person (first, second, or third.
• Here are some examples of topics, the person you use for each, and the level of writing. Topic Person Level of Writing
1. The importance of voting Third Formal
2. A letter to your best friend First or second Informal
3. Description of your best vacation First Formal or Informal, depending on audience
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Activity 4: Read each topic and decide whether it requires first, second, or third person. Then decide whether the writing should be formal or informal. There maybe more than one correct answer.
Topic
Person
Formal orb bInformal
1. A letter to your cousin First and Second Person Informal
2. A paragraph about the causes of the Civil War
3. A paragraph about your trip to Mexico
4. A paragraph telling about how to bake a cake
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Element 3: Clarity
• Clarity refers to how easy it is for the reader to understand your writing.
• Good writers explain their point easily and clearly.
• Clear sentences are not vague or indirect they get the point across to the reader by using specific, concise language.
• Here are two ways that you can improve clarity Use descriptive (or precise) words
2.Use clear pronoun references
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Using clear, Descriptive Language
• To improve clarity, it is important for writers to choose words that give an accurate description of their topic.
• Some words are vague and unclear, and good writers avoid them.
• You can think of these unclear words are being too common or boring.
• An example of one of these words is
nice. Read the following sentence
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Although there were far more Republican voters than Democrats in the presidential election of 1976, people voted for the Democratic candidate because they perceived him as being nice.
• The adjective nice does not tell us very much about the candidate. It does very little to tell us why voters chose this candidate over any other.
• An effective writer would choose a more descriptive word to inform readers.
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Although there were far more Republican voters than Democrats in the presidential election of 1976, people voted for the Democratic candidate because they perceived him as being sincere.
• In this sentence, the word sincere is more descriptive and informative that the word nice.
• Fora sentence to express the exact meaning that the writer wants to share with readers, the writer must use clear and precise words.
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Activity 5: Replace each of the unclear and boring words with three more descriptive or precise words.
1. good wonderful great delightful
2. bad horrible terrible awful
3. fun
4. big
5. small
6. old
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Writers note Adding Description
• Good writers also strive to make their writing clear and specific by adding adjectives or prepositional phrases.
• Adding adjectives or prepositional phrases can make your sentences more specific and descriptive to improve the clarity of your writing.
22 Original The soldiers slowly crossed the river. More specific The soldiers slowly crossed the dangerous river. The soldiers slowly crossed the river in the dark. The soldiers slowly crossed the dangerous river in the dark. The tired soldiers slowly crossed the dangerous river in the dark.
Clear Pronoun Reference
• Another thing that good writers do to maintain clarity is to make sure that every pronoun refers to a specific noun.
• If the exact meaning, or reference, of the pronoun is not clear, then repeat the noun or use a synonym of that noun.
– Children should not be allowed to watch R-rated movies for many reasons. They say that these movies can disturb the children.
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• In the above sentence, who is they Does they refer to the children To R-rated movies To people in general
• Because we do not know who or what
they refers to, this is considered an unclear pronoun reference.
• The easiest way to correct it is to use precise noun. In this case, it would be better to say
– Children should not be allowed to watch R-rated movies for many reasons. Most psychologists say that these movies can disturb the children.
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Element 4: Unity
• Unity in a paragraph means that all the sentences are related to the topic sentence and its controlling idea.
• Good writes stay on topic by making sure that each supporting detail sentence relates to the topic sentence.
• You can use a purpose statement to help establish your purpose, and you can also use it to help establish unity.
• You can also check to see whether each sentence follows the writers purpose statement The purpose of the following paragraph is to explain how to clean your room
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(1) Cleaning your room is not difficult if you follow some simple guideline. (2) First, you must pickup all of your clothes off the floor. (3) Then you need to decide which clothes are dirty and which clothes are clean and put them in their appropriate places. (4) It is important to wash your clothes with good-quality laundry detergent to keep them looking neat and clean. (5) After that, you should put away any items that are out of place. (6) The next step is to dust all of your furniture, such as your nightstand or your dresser. (7) The final step is to mop or vacuum the floor, depending on the surface. (8) When you have finished these steps, you can relax as you think about your good work.
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Study these questions and answers about the above paragraph.
1. Does the first sentence maintain the unity of paragraph Yes. Here, the first sentence is the topic sentence. It lets readers know that the paragraph will give the steps necessary to clean their room.
2. Does the second sentence maintain the unity of paragraph Yes. It gives the first step to cleaning your room.
3. Does the second sentence maintain the unity of paragraph Yes. It provides information describing what to do with the clothes. It provides extra information about the 2
nd sentence.
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4. Does the fourth sentence maintain the unity of paragraph No. It tells the reader about the importance of doing laundry with a specific type of laundry detergent. Because sentence 4 does not support the purpose of the paragraph, it should not be included.
5. Does sentences 5-7 maintain the unity of paragraph Yes, each give a step in how to clean your room.
6. What about sentence 8? Does it belong Yes. This is the concluding sentence for the ideas in this paragraph. It sums up everything.
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Element 5: Coherence
• Apiece of writing is said to have coherence when all of its parts are organized and flow smoothly and logically from one idea to the next.
• Writers strive for coherence so that the reader can follow along more easily.
• Three important features of coherence are
1. Logical order
2. Repetition of keywords. Use of transitional words and phrases
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5.1. Logical Order
• It is important to follow a logical order in your writing.
• The next activity will help you to understand the importance of logical order.
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Activity 6: The following sentences form a paragraph, but they are not in the best order. Read the sentences and then number them from one to five to indicate the best order. a. ___ He starts his day by putting on face makeup and a large red nose. b. ___ When he arrives, he puts on a performance that includes jokes, balloon animals, funny stories, and magic tricks. c. ___ When his performance ends and the audience is happy, Michael returns home, satisfied that he has done his job as a clown well. d. ___ Michael‟s typical day at work is far from ordinary. e. ___ He then puts on his oversize shoes and gets into his polka-dotted car and drives to a different location each day, usually a birthday party or other special event.
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5.2. Repetition of Key Words
• Good writers know that certain keywords need to be repeated in a paragraph to keep the reader focused on the topic.
• Sometimes students worry that using the same word again and again can sound too repetitive.
• To avoid this, writers can also use pronouns to take the place of these key nouns.
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For example, look at the paragraph that you put in order in slide #32 and answer the following questions
1. What is the main subject of the paragraph
____________________________________________________
____________________________________________________
2. What is the writers purpose
____________________________________________________
____________________________________________________
3. What keywords (nouns or pronouns) does the writer repeat to keep the reader focused on the topic
____________________________________________________
____________________________________________________
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5.3. Transitional Words and Phrases
• Transitional words and phrases are essential to maintain the flow and coherence of a paragraph. They are the links between ideas.
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Commonly Used Transitional Words and Phrases To give examples for example, for instance To add information and, next, in addition, first To compare or contrast in contrast, by comparison, on the other hand To showtime finally, after, before, when To emphasize For these reasons, obviously, without a doubt To show sequence First (second, third, etc, next, as the same time To summarize Therefore, thus, in conclusion
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