Are you ready for some…midterms? Football season is upon us, and so are midterm papers. While the football draft and drafting a paper might not seem similar at first, they share many of the same principles. Strap on your gear and dive into the scrimmage!
When selecting players or paper topics, the first step is always research. A football team wants to know everything about a potential player; you’ll need to know as much as possible about your general topic so that you can narrow your focus later. Whether you’re assigned a topic or given free reign, you’ll need to explore several different options before locking in your choice.
Outline your paper by placing your strongest players and put them in the best positions. Your thesis is your quarterback, but other subtopics and arguments are essential to putting together a winning paper. Keep things moving with transitions—the running backs of your paper.
Once you’ve completed the rough draft of your paper, it’s time to edit it. In the football draft, the weakest teams get the first round picks; when revising a paper, you’ll want to weed out the worst offenders first. The obvious mistakes should be caught in the first round. In the next round, you’ll want to look for weak writing. In the final round, examine your paper as a whole to ensure that your ideas are organized logically and clearly stated.
Round One: Common Errors
- Typos—These are often surprisingly difficult to catch since your brain, much like the mighty Smart Phone, will auto-correct your errors as you read. Try reading your paper out loud or printing it out to correct by hand.
- Spelling Errors—The built-in spell check will catch some mistakes, but it won’t always fix contextual spelling errors. If you meant to type “tackle” but typed “tickle” instead, Word won’t see it as an error. Your professor, however, will.
- Comma Splices—Professors love to circle these with a red pen. A comma splice consists of two independent clauses held together with a comma, as in “The Ravens won the 2013 Super Bowl, they get the last draft pick for next season.” To fix this, either add a coordinating conjunction (The Ravens won the 2013 Super Bowl, so they get the last draft pick for next season.”) or a semicolon (The Ravens won the 2013 Super Bowl; they get the last draft pick for next season.”)
- Subject-Verb Agreement—If your subject is plural, your verb should be plural too.
Round Two: Strengthening Language
- Wordiness—Some people have a tendency to overwrite, especially when there’s a minimum word count involved. However, padding your work with unnecessarily baroque phrases is not only obvious to professors, who have seen it all before, but also weakens the impact of your ideas. Here’s a great list of phrases to cut from your writing.
- Passive Voice—Passive voice isn’t technically wrong, but it’s not great writing, either. A sentence in passive voice often leaves out key information or becomes overly wordy: “The ball was passed to the wide receiver” doesn’t tell the reader who did the passing, while “The ball was passed to the wide receiver by the quarterback” is unnecessarily complex. Instead, write in active voice: “The quarterback passed the ball to the wide receiver.”
Round Three: Finalizing
In this round, you’ll want to look at the big picture.
- Is your paper clear, concise, and consistent?
- Have you arranged your ideas in the most logical way?
- Are your arguments sound?
This season, let Grammarly help you score a touchdown every time you write!