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Gordon Rule

What is effective writing?

A well-written essay incorporates elements of writing in such a way that a reader can experience the writer's intended meaning, understand the writer's premise, and accept or reject the writer's point of view. Effective writing . . .

  • is focused on the topic and does not contain extraneous or loosely related information;
  • has an organizational pattern that enables the reader to follow the flow of ideas because it contains a beginning, middle, and end
  • uses transitional devices;
  • contains supporting ideas that are developed through the use of details, examples, and conventions of language appropriate to the discipline area which the writer is addressing;
  • follows the conventions of standard written English (i.e., punctuation, grammar, capitalization, and spelling) and has variation in sentence structure;
  • cites all source material according to discipline conventions.
How does a student achieve effective writing?

No essay is "reader-ready" after the first draft. Instead, a writer concerned with effective writing engages in a serious process-approach. This recursive process includes planning, writing, revising, and editing.

What will an instructor be looking for in a student's Gordon Rule writing?

In addition to a clear demonstration of accuracy and logic with respect to the paper's subject matter, a student will be expected to demonstrate proficiency in structuring an essay and conveying his or her thoughts in a technically and grammatically correct manner. Students should revise the essay until it meets the standards outlined below.

In planning and structuring an essay, a student will be expected to Select a subject which lends itself to development.

  • Determine the purpose and the audience for writing.
  • Limit the subject to a topic that can be developed within the requirements of time, purpose, and audience.
  • Formulate a thesis or statement of main idea.
  • Develop the thesis or main idea statement by . . .
    • providing adequate support which reflects the ability to distinguish between generalized and specific evidence.
    • arranging the ideas and supporting details in a logical pattern appropriate to the purpose and the focus.
    • writing unified prose in which all supporting material is relevant to the thesis or main idea statement.
    • writing coherent prose and providing effective transitional devices which clearly reflect the organizational pattern and the relationships of the parts.
    • citing all support from external sources according to discipline conventions.

In editing and proofreading an essay, a student will be expected to

  • Demonstrate effective word choice by . . .
    • using words which convey the denotative and connotative meanings required by context.
    • avoiding inappropriate use of slang, jargon, cliches, and pretentious expressions.
    • avoiding wordiness.
  • Employ conventional sentence structure by . . .
    • placing modifiers correctly.
    • coordinating and subordinating sentence elements according to their relative importance.
    • using parallel expressions for parallel ideas.
    • avoiding fragments, comma splices, and fused sentences.
  • Employ effective sentence structure by . . .
    • using a variety of sentence patterns.
    • avoiding overuse of passive construction.
  • Observe the conventions of standard American English grammar and usage by . . .
    • using standard verb forms.
    • maintaining agreement between subject and verb, pronoun and antecedent.
    • using proper case forms.
    • maintaining a consistent point of view.
    • using adjectives and adverbs correctly.
    • avoiding inappropriate shifts in verb tenses.
    • making logical comparisons.
    • using standard practice for spelling, punctuation, and capitalization.
    • assuring clarity, consistency, and conformity to the conventions of standard American English.