If this sounds difficult, it's not--at least, not if you learn a few lessons this book can teach you--and you practice, practice, practice. The more real writing you do, the more of a real writer you will become. If you are reading this book, then your first goal likely is to do well in a college (or upper-level high school) "composition" or "rhetoric" class. In short, you want to learn how to write a good academic paper. There are a large number of tips and methods this book can show you. They will work best if, like the writing process itself, you go back and forth between reading this book and doing some actual writing: try some of these lessons out by writing; then return to new lessons or review some of the lessons you've already read to discover what you next can do with what you've written--or with a new writing. Your next goal after learning to write a good general academic paper (or several types, perhaps--some of the most common being a summary, an analysis, an argument or "thesis," an evaluation, and a research paper) is to write in your specific discipline or major. Each discipline or major has its own writing style, organizational method, and purpose or goal. Your major or discipline teachers can help you quite a bit as you learn to apply your academic writing skills to their discipline. And eventually, your goal is to write for your work--for your future profession.
Most of the time, you'll find yourself switching among all of these modes as you write. You would have a hard time, for instance, reviewing a car without spending any time describing it, and the strength of an argument depends on how well you've evaluated its evidence. What's important is that you recognize the difference between them. Many students lose points each year when they offer their teacher a description instead of the evaluation or argument called for by the assignment. Below, we first give you some hints about analyzing assignments to find out what different types of writing task you need to do. Then, we break down some common writing modes, telling you their characteristics and what makes them unique, then offer examples of informal and formal writing that show them in action. 2b1af7f3a8