The Good Writing Guide
Good writing is important. The ability to write clear and accurate text is the most useful skill that you will learn at university. Whatever subject you specialise in, and whatever career you choose after you graduate, a command of language is a valuable asset. When employers offer a job to an MA graduate they are sometimes interested in how much he or she knows about emotional labour or inter-generational social mobility, but they are always looking for someone with good analytic and communication skills and an eye for detail. In almost any job, you will spend time working with a range of texts. You may produce written reports, letters or marketing copy. You may also give lectures or presentations. If you are aiming for a career in which you can use language stylishly, such as journalism or creative writing, it is equally important that you know the rules of good plain English.
This document will help you to think about how you write. It will also improve your reading skills. While you are a student you will often be a reader, absorbing information from other sources or analysing the structure of a text. When assessments come along, you will be a writer, and someone else will read and analyse your work. Reading and writing are closely connected. Improving your skills in one area will have a knock-on effect in the other. Set yourself high standards in both these areas. One of the simplest ways to improve your own writing is to read actively and to look at how authors mould the language to their own purposes. Try to develop an eye for style and sentence structure as you read. This will help you to assess your own writing and expand your language skills.
While you are at university, ‘good writing’ means being able to produce a clear, grammatical, logical argument to answer a question in an exercise, an essay or an exam. This is not the place to be innovative or poetic. Chances to be creative with language are available...