Monday, February 23, 2015

Learn to write well.

Dear young people of the world..... you may not believe me now. And you certainly may think of me as an old fogey, but trust me on this.

LEARN TO WRITE WELL. 

Social media has created its own lexicon, and its own rules of grammar and syntax. However, these do not apply to the real world and to your first job outside of retail and/or fast food. Once you are out on your first adult job, communication will be very important. You will need to be clear, concise,

"y u mad, bro? #LOL" is cute on social media, or with your friends. In business correspondence, it won't be. Customers are far more likely to work with you and respond to, "Dear (Customer), it has come to my attention that there was a problem with your recent transaction. I'd be very happy to work with you to rectify the situation. Please contact me at (phone or e-mail address) so that a mutual resolution can be reached."  Or even with your first love, "y u mad #LOL" isn't nearly as cute as "I'm sensing that we need to work this out. Please talk with me and work to make things better going forward." (Trust me, if a former BF had said "u mad at me? #wazzup" he would have been an ex-BF even faster.....)

It does not matter if you are a game creator/designer, or if you own a cupcake shop, you will need to communicate well. So while you are young, run out now and buy a copy of Strunk & White's The Elements of Style. It is still an all-time classic. It is still relevant. It is still worthy. Learn the rules of punctuation, subject-verb agreement, and for God's sake, use the Oxford comma (as it, too, is still relevant).

It also wouldn't hurt to learn a variety of citation guidelines. It also wouldn't hurt to learn what a citation is: crediting work you borrowed from another published source. And you'd best cite anything from any other published source. You do not want a hint of plagiarism hanging over your head at any point in time. It quite simply is not worth it. While quite a number of teachers prefer the APA Citation Guidelines, you had best learn the other styles as well, primarily the MLA, Turabian and Chicago styles. If you don't know which kind a teacher requires, ask; do not assume. Oh, and cite your sources.

LEARN TO WRITE WELL.

How might you do this?

Read. There's a good start. The more you read, the more likely you'll encounter correct grammar and punctuation -- across a variety of authors, genres, and styles. Read. Read the newspaper, read the classics, read the newest bestseller, read legal briefs, or read medical journals. The important thing is that you just read.

Write. Sure you'll make mistakes. Run your work through a spell-checker, a grammar-checker, and a citation-checker (to ensure you haven't plagiarized by accident). Have an older person read it to provide some insight, or run it by another teacher. They'll help you find any glaring errors, whether with your grammar or with the flow of your writing. They'll check for redundancy, for ideas that stop cold, or for paragraphs that don't work with each other.

Never stop learning. I still make mistakes on occasion. Usually, I notice them first, after the fact, and I cringe. While it's true that some will never notice the error -- or at best, simply will choose to ignore it -- I appreciate the ones who have corrected me. By their correction, they have reminded me that my learning is lifelong, and that sometimes the rules that I knew years ago may have changed to reflect new knowledge. However, I will never give up my Oxford comma; they will pry it from my cold, dead hands.

LEARN TO WRITE WELL.

You never know where it may take you.

1 comment:

Aaron Grey said...

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Aaron Grey
aarongrey112 at gmail.com