Here are 5 general tips on writing, developed by my students:
- Organization: What are the parts of your discussion? Make an outline of those parts. Have one "part" per paragraph or one main topic per paragraph.
- Introduction: What's your topic? Present the "parts" of your discussion: give a "roadmap." Clearly state your thesis or your main point(s). Can you start with a "hook" or something especially interesting to bring the reader or audience into the topic?
- Clarity: Be understandable; give examples, don't use needless "big words"; define unclear or special words; explain everything adequately; have clear and labeled sections, and transitions between those sections. Cut out everything you don't need: words you don't need, sentences you don't need, and sections you don't need. Have helpful people read your writing or hear your presentation and revise in light of their thoughtful and critical feedback and responses. Revise, revise, revise.
- Make good arguments!!! Give your conclusion(s), give your reasons; explain why the reasons support the conclusion and why your arguments are good arguments (if they are, and they should be!). Raise and respond to objections. Consider and respond to different points of view.
- Conclude: sum up what you did. Is what you discuss suggestive of anything new? Should you have a “call to action” or some suggestions on where to go now, such as what needs to be discussed next, what we need to do given your arguments, etc?
Here is an imperfect video on writing philosophy with an emphasis on organization and structure:
1000-Word Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology has a new essay on how to write philosophical essays for philosophy courses, by the editors of 1000-Word Philosophy: "How to Write a Philosophical Essay"
Here are some of my posts and an essay on better writing:
- "Why Writing Better Will Make You a Better Person" June 4, 2019, Chronicle of Higher Education by Bob Fischer and Nathan Nobis (in PDF).
- Organization and Clarity in Writing: Seeing the Forest Through the Trees
- Writing Tips
- Essay Evaluation Sheet
- "ASSUME YOUR READER IS GOING TO DIE ANY MINUTE AND SO YOU WANT TO SAY THE MOST IMPORTANT STUFF FIRST. This has been today's writing advice." (haha!)
- One main topic per paragraph.
If you are not a student in my classes and you are seeking someone to help you with your writing, I am available as a "writing coach" or consultant: I can help you plan, get organized and stay on task. I'm also available as editor, for anything from "big picture" organizational guidance to a detailed review of your manuscript. I'm happy to help you make any writing project -- dissertation, book, article, essay - more clear, vivid, organized and concise.
To get a better sense of whether I can help you, you should read some of my writings to get a sense of my writing style. You could also check out the more recent essays at 1000-Word Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology: I've helped guide the production of the last 50 or so essays.
Please contact me to discuss your needs. Thank you!