General Grammar and Style Tips
Vary your sentence structure -
Nothing seems more unsophisticated than an uninterrupted
succession of subject-verb constructions. Take a series
of sentences like the following as an example: "Moby
Dick can symbolize both a manifestation of God or of the
ultimate evil.”. Here are just a few of the variations
you can make:
Melville renders Moby Dick as simultaneously a manifestation
of God and as a symbol of the ultimate evil.
That Moby Dick is subject to a dichotomy of interpretations
is evident in his depiction as both a manifestation
of God and of the ultimate evil.
We may intimate that Moby Dick is a juxtaposition of both the
divine and the diabolical.
Combine short sentences - Try reading your paper
out loud. If it seems choppy it can likely be remedied by
your grouping short sentences into longer, more complex
ones. For example:
"Gatsby’s obsession with Daisy has deeper implications.
He becomes obsessed with escaping his own past."
would be much stronger if combined:
"Gatsby's obsession with Daisy eventually translates
into a yearning to escape his own past."
Don’t use passive voice - Plain and simple. It makes
your writing weak.
Bad: "This fact was proven by Napoleon's subsequent
Good: "Napoleon proved this fact through his subsequent
actions." The object of the sentence should never
be turned into the subject.
Maintain consistency in tense - Don't drift
from the present to the past to the conditional (from
"he is" to "he was" to "he would
Some things to avoid wherever
Starting a sentence with "there are" or "there
Using the phrase "this shows" (as a substitute
say "evident in this fact is" or "This
interpretation belies the idea that").
Using the word "quotation" when incorporating
a direct quote. This makes for an awkward break from
your natural thoughts, and creates an aura of self-consciousness
in your writing.
The first person or second person tense. Sometimes using the
first person plural (as in the previous example of
"we may intimate") is generally acceptable,
in that it conveys a universality that the "I"
or "you" voices preclude.
Confusing commas and semi-colons. A semi-colon can be used
to connect two short, related sentences into a longer
one: ”Trench warfare became standard during World
War One; it was used in all the major confrontations.".
A comma cannot be used in this way.
Confusing "who" and "whom";
the former is a subject, the latter an object.
non-specific words like "good," "bad,"
"vivid," and "thing".
If those are the only words you can use to express what
you're saying, it's likely not subtle enough to make
for a very good argument.