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English paper

  1. Sep 25, 2005 #1
    I have this paper that I would like anyone who wants to, to read over it and give me some feedback and help me with general editing on spelling grammar, verb tense, consistent perspective i.e. you and your...over use of certain words and whatever else you think could be done to make this a better paper.

    You can be as brutal as you like...I don't really mind. Go nutz.....


    The Student Union ​

    The back corner of the dining area of the new student union is an excellent place for a quick break. Such a delicious atmosphere saturated with a sense of relaxation mixed with the warm scent of pancakes, eggs, bacon and that ‘fresh cup of coffee’ smell. No one would ever guess this could be the home of a dark and sinister secret veiled by sublet pleasing aesthetics.

    The comfortable seats are relaxing and help to ease your tense muscles. Letting your mind drift you start to notice sounds and noises you might not have heard otherwise. A couple of guys talk about an engineering problem. Someone flips the page of a book and slides a plate across the table. On the other side of the room, some young women are giggling. A cell phone rings, zip, “Hello.”

    The seats are of cloth and pleather, still warm from the last occupant. The plastic veneer tabletop feels cold to the touch. Everything still feels fresh and new having only just been built. Warm Earth tone colors greet your appetite. Olive drab, sapphire, kaki and drab brown vertical strips on the cloth seatbacks and smooth texture on the pleather seats come together in a sublet almost unnoticed way. The only contrast to the smooth blend of pigments and grain of the seats comes from the crimson brick walls that remind you that you are still in school.

    With such a tranquil atmosphere, you may never even notice that there is a rather large fireplace just in the middle of the back wall of the room. Large enough for a slightly shorter than average person to stand in, this is a truly grand fireplace. Beautiful lightly stained oak wood trim and large glass doors, this makes for a very attractive hearth. When you do finally see it, you will find the juxtaposition of the dark and red give you a melancholy feeling. The glass gives off an eerie reflection but soon bright flames will overpower any reflection. Without a fire burning, it looks like a sinister cave. Here in the middle of the Student Union it is hard to imagine place where a loathsome, gloomy and dangerous creature may lurk, but gazing into the black depths of the hearth quickly dispel such notions.

    People sitting around relaxing, chatting, eating, studying or doing any of the typical things that people do in the Student Union seem hardly aware of their surroundings or the gapping maw of the fireplace. It is as if it or its secrets do not even exist. ​


    And thank you for your feedback...
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 26, 2005 #2
    Don't think so. Probably more like "despite the coziness, there is this ominous object impeding the impression” -(don't be shy of a little alliteration)-..etc
     
  4. Sep 26, 2005 #3

    honestrosewater

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    I'll go through it in detail later this evening. It would be nice to know what you mean the focus of the paper to be. Is it about the student union in general or specifically about the fireplace? I think focusing more on the fireplace and contrasting it with everything else would be interesting.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2005
  5. Sep 26, 2005 #4
    It's actually rather complicated.....

    This paper comes together in several smaller steps in order to teach us how to write.....

    Anyhow first off we need to just focus on details....a sensory explanation of some place we find interesting. Then you pick one object to embellish and make the main focus. So I picked the fireplace...

    This is going to the be the finial draft of the paper. I need to keep repeat words to a minimum and also 'to be' verbs-I don't know their technical name.

    So basically and sentences that could be restructured or pretty much whatever you see than needs attention.

    Thanks for helping..
     
  6. Sep 26, 2005 #5
    Thanks....I will make those changes. After I have what I think is a finial copy I will post it too.
     
  7. Sep 26, 2005 #6

    loseyourname

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    The Student Union ​

    The back corner of the dining area of the new student union is an excellent place for a quick break. Such a delicious atmosphere saturated with a sense of relaxation mixed with the warm scent of pancakes, eggs, bacon and that ‘fresh cup of coffee’ smell. The previous sentence is very awkward. "Saturated with a sense of relaxation mixed with . . ." is difficult to follow. Also, using the word "smell" after "coffee" is redudant since you already alluded to the scent.No one would ever guess this could be the home of a dark and sinister secret veiled by sublety pleasing aesthetics. "Dark and sinister secret" is a cliche, which you should generally try to avoid. This is probably the easiest thing to do when revising a paper, other than correcting grammatical errors, as you can simply look to a thesaurus for alternate words.

    The comfortable seats are relaxing This is an instance of word repetition, as you just used "relaxation several sentences back to describe the general ambience (a less hackneyed word then "atmosphere," by the way) of the room. Using the same word to describe a particular feature can get droning. and help to ease your tense muscles. The use of 2nd-person narration here feels a little bit off to me. If you're going to use it, you should introduce it in the first paragraph, which gave me the impression of objective narration. You might just want to avoid using 2nd-person at all, and say something like "one" instead of "you." Letting your mind drift you start to notice sounds and noises you might not have heard otherwise. A couple of guys talk about an engineering problem. Someone flips the page of a book and slides a plate across the table. On the other side of the room, some young women are giggling. A cell phone rings, zip, “Hello.” Since the word "zip" is not onomonapoetic, you might want to say something more visceral like "The sound of a cell phone ringing, followed by the sniiitch of a zipper being pulled open, followed by the word "hello."

    The seats are of cloth and pleather, still warm from the last occupant. The plastic veneer tabletop feels cold to the touch. Everything still feels fresh and new having only just been built. "Feel" is repetitious here. This paragraph is also reading something like a laundry list of characteristics, more of an outline than a finished product. You have to think of some way to liven it up, make the descriptions more vivid, not necessarily by using more vivid adjectives, but better ways of describing than a series of simple, declarative sentences. Warm Earth tone colors greet your appetite. Olive drab, sapphire, khaki and drab Repetition of the word "drab" brown vertical strips on the cloth seatbacks and smooth texture on the pleather seats come together in a sublet subtle almost unnoticed way. "almost unnoticed" is redundant, as it is pretty much the definition of the word "subtle" The only contrast to the smooth blend of pigments and grain of the seats comes from the crimson brick walls that remind you that you are still in school. The identical sentence structures are getting very droning at this point. In general, I'd say to liven things up. Specifically for this last sentence, try something like "The matte crimson hue of schoolhouse brick stands as testament to the fact that one is still at a college." You don't even need to verbally state that there is a contrast, if you simply make your description of the brick contrast with your descriptions of everything else.

    With such a tranquil atmosphere, you may never even notice that there is a rather large fireplace just in the middle of the back wall of the room. To expand on what Andre said, if you're going to contend that a large fireplace in the middle of a room can go unnoticed, you'll need a better explanation than the tranquility Large enough for a slightly shorter than average person to stand in, this is a truly grand fireplace. Just to expand on the repetitiveness of the simple descriptions, you haven't used a single metaphor or simile yet that I've noticed. Try it! Beautiful lightly stained oak wood trim and large glass doors, this makes for a very attractive hearth. When you do finally see it, you will find the juxtaposition of the dark and red give you a melancholy feeling. Don't tell us we'll feel melancholy. Use a description that makes the reader feel melancholy! The entire passage is very monotone. The glass gives off an eerie reflection but soon bright flames will overpower any reflection. Without a fire burning, it looks like a sinister cave. Here in the middle of the Student Union it is hard to imagine place where a loathsome, gloomy and dangerous creature may lurk, but gazing into the black depths of the hearth quickly dispel such notions. The way this is worded makes it hard to follow. Try something like "Though typically thought of as out of place at the Student Union, the creature Grendel would be right at home in its soot-stained bowels." The allusion to the creature Grendel might be esoteric depending on your readership, but you get my gist. (You shouldn't, obviously, copy any suggestion that someone gives word for word.)

    People sitting around relaxing, chatting, eating, studying or doing any of the typical things You shouldn't use the disjunctive "or" here, as the things you listed are typical things a student would be doing. Also, strictly speaking, the students, as a group, aren't doing either one or the other thing. They are doing all of these things. that people do in the Student Union You should probably use another word to describe the place than "Student Union" at this point. seem hardly aware of their surroundings or the gapping maw of the fireplace. It is as if it or its secrets do not even exist. ​



    So, out of curiosity, what exactly is the "secret" that the fireplace is concealing? Are you taking a creative writing course or is this just an exercise to improve your expository writing?
     
  8. Sep 27, 2005 #7
    Your paper does satisfy these criteria, but it's a little bland overall. The suspense created by the phrase "dark and sinister secret" never resolves, and thus neither does the cliffhanger; the fireplace stays a trivial fireplace and never magnifies into what you want us to see.

    In hope of helping, I'm going to reiterate a point loseyourname made, as it can never be emphasized enough: Show, don't tell. Change "Large enough for a slightly shorter than average person to stand in, . . . " to "With a gaping mouth, large enough to swallow a human, . . . " Help us connect!

    Now here's some general advise: Keep your the sentences simple and direct, unless you have a compelling reason to do otherwise. Avoid pomposity. Avoid wordiness. And, for God's sake, avoid wordiness. (I almost puked when I read "or doing any of the typical things that people do in the Student Union.")

    Well, I hope I didn't come off as too harsh. Good luck with the paper! Post a revision! :smile:
     
  9. Sep 27, 2005 #8

    honestrosewater

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    The corrections (grammar, spelling, etc.) are in red and the (mere) suggestions in indigo. The red and indigo are mostly small changes, and I'll try to not repeat anyone else. I'll put suggestions for larger changes at the bottom.

    [The Student Union]
    Your paper is better than this title indicates, IMO. Something that helps me: browse a list of poem titles (like this one) and note which titles make you want to read the poem. Imagine that your story is in the list, and make someone want to read it! :smile: A hint of the fireplace would be great - something to make the reader curious, give them something to look for or forward to...

    The back corner of the [dining area of the new student union]
    I'd change this to something like "new student union's dining area" to get rid of the "of the ... of the ..." pattern. There is also some confusion about the grouping. Is it "new-student union" or "new student-union"? You may want to add the hyphens, capitalize "Student Union", or do nothing - your call.

    is an excellent place for a quick break. [Such a delicious atmosphere saturated with a sense of relaxation mixed with the warm scent of pancakes, eggs, bacon and that ‘fresh cup of coffee’ smell.]
    This is an incomplete sentence - what is your subject and where is its verb? You could make "atmosphere" your subject and give it a verb, for example: "The ... atmosphere is saturated..." or add a new subject and verb, for example: "There is such a..." or add it to the previous sentence: "...for a quick break, with such a delicious..." (though this one sounds bad), etc.

    No one would ever guess this could be the home of a dark and sinister secret veiled by [sublet]
    I think you want subtle instead of sublet; "sublet" isn't (normally) an adjective, so you should probably change it anyway. Also, when you use more than one adjective, you should add commas: the tall, dark, handsome man.

    pleasing aesthetics.

    The comfortable seats [are relaxing and]
    Is the sentence more potent without this part? "The comfortable seats help to ease your tense muscles."

    help to ease your tense muscles. Letting your mind drift, you start to notice sounds and noises you might not have heard otherwise. A couple of guys talk about an engineering problem. Someone flips the page of a book and slides a plate across the table. On the other side of the room, some young women are giggling. [A cell phone rings, zip, “Hello.”]
    I actually like that.

    The seats [are of cloth and pleather],
    This is borderline. It may not be technically incorrect (I'm not certain whether it is or not), but to be clearer, you may want to go with something like "are made of.." or "...are covered with..."

    still warm from the last occupant. The plastic veneer tabletop feels cold to the touch. Everything still feels fresh and new having only just been built. Warm [Earth tone colors]
    "Earth" is conventionally only capitalized when used as a proper noun, as in "I'm from Earth." You can tell whether a word is being used as a proper noun by just substituting a known proper noun in its place: "I'm from Florida." "It fell to the earth." --> "It fell to the Florida.", which isn't correct; "earth" is being used as a noun in this case. (Sorry if you already know this - just mentioning it to be safe.) "earth tone colors" is not correct. It would need to be "earth-toned colors". But "earth tones" is sufficient. Remember to add commas if you end up with more than one adjective: "Warm, earth-toned colors".

    greet your appetite. Olive drab, sapphire, kaki and drab brown vertical strips on the cloth seatbacks and smooth texture on the pleather seats come together in a [sublet]
    Same as above. And you would need a comma: "subtle, almost unnoticed way."

    almost unnoticed way. The only contrast to the smooth blend of pigments and grain of the seats comes from the crimson brick walls [that remind you that you are still in school.]
    The "that ... you that you" pattern annoys me (just a matter of taste - these kinds of things, patterns and such, can be used to good effect; I just don't think it happens here). Something else like "...walls, reminding you that you're..." or "walls, reminders that you are..."

    I won't comment as much on the rest of the suggestions - they're just more of the same ideas.

    With such a tranquil atmosphere, you may never even notice that there is a [rather large fireplace]
    Is the fireplace large or not? If it's merely "rather" large, find a different word; If it is large, don't diminish it.

    just in the middle of the back wall of the room. [Large enough for a slightly shorter than average person to stand in, this is a truly grand fireplace.]
    :zzz:
    And I feel compelled to remind you that you asked for it. o:)


    [Beautiful lightly stained oak wood trim]
    Oak is wood. "Beautiful, lightly-stained, oak trim" (hyphen optional)

    and large glass doors, this makes for a very attractive hearth.
    You need to add something to the first phrase, "Beautiful... doors". A preposition would work: "With beautiful..."
    The hearth usually refers to the floor of the fireplace. FYI, the parts of a fireplace: http://ah.bfn.org/a/DCTNRY/fireplace/fireplace.html


    When you do finally see it, you will find the juxtaposition of the dark and red give you a melancholy feeling. The glass gives off an eerie reflection, but soon bright flames will overpower any reflection. Without a fire burning, it looks like a sinister cave. Here in the middle of the Student Union, it is hard to imagine a? any? place where a loathsome, gloomy and dangerous creature may lurk, but gazing into the black depths of the hearth quickly [dispel] such notions.
    dispels. gazing dispels, gazings dispel.

    People sitting around relaxing, chatting, eating, studying or doing any of the typical things that people do in the Student Union seem hardly aware of their surroundings or the gapping maw of the fireplace. It is as if it or its secrets do not even exist.

    Adjectives and adverbs are not the only way to describe things in detail. A delightful delight delightfully delights. A blazing blaze blazingly blazes! You can go through your adjectives and adverbs and try replacing them with more descriptive nouns and verbs. Nouns and verbs. I think this would improve your paper the most.
    If it hasn't been said enough, avoid unnecessary words: "gives off a reflection" = "reflects". Is the longer one necessary in this case?
    Are you paying attention to -ing? "x is swirling" or "x swirls"; "x is throbbing" or "x throbs"; "x is shattering" or "x shatters". You can usually use either of these (with or without the -ing) without changing the meaning much, but they make a difference in how active your sentences sound.
    Why not try out some figures of speech, as LYN suggested (I think there are examples there - just one of the best of the first sites I saw)?
    The last sentence is probably my least favorite. Let it be as if its secrets will forever remain hidden or safely stowed or haunting or leave them smoldering or as ashes or something - just don't let it be like they never existed. :cry:

    I'm not sure if you'll want to tackle this, but I think it would make the second biggest difference. There doesn't seem to be any direction to the paper; It just meanders around. I think it would help to choose a topic for each paragraph. Just as an example:
    1) Introducing the things about the scene that you notice first - some smells as or even before you enter, various sights as you glance around, touches as you sit (does your arm or hand hit the cold table?), sounds as you settle in. You don't have to mention everything at once - mention it when you want the reader to notice it - just set up enough activity to prepare for...
    2) Introducing the fireplace. Describe the exterior, comparing and contrasting it with the rest of the scene; some hints of the secrets you will soon develop...
    3) Describe the fireplace when lit - can you hear its crackle over the other noises, do you listen, does it remind you of anything not present in the scene, etc.?
    4) The fireplace when not lit. Building on the last - this is what your title hinted at. Is it spooky, mysterious, lonely, is there darkness? do you smell the soot, the sweat of the beast within, death? remind you of that city, those people that burned? are they screaming? is there silence? do you just now notice how cold the table is? (heh, this is the fun part.)
    5) Conclusion - about the same as your current one.
    Just an example.

    I think the paper was good overall (you made some nice word choices) - lots of potential - it just gets dragged down in places.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2005
  10. Sep 28, 2005 #9
    I don't suppose it really is concealing anything except what may lie within a person's imagination. I mean, the fireplace is real and of course in reality it's just a good place to warm your hands in the middle of winter. The reason I wanted to embellish on the fireplace is because there didn't seem to be much of anything else worth describing. It really is a rather boring place.

    In any case this is just junior English that is required but I really need to work on my writing so I want to take this class seriously.

    Your comments are very in depth and I probably can't use them all as effectively as I would like to but I will do my best....

    After I have it finished perhaps you can let me know what you think of it... :smile:

    I wouldn't mind future comments on ways to improve my writing even after the fact since it will still be useful as a learning tool.

    Thanks again
     
  11. Sep 28, 2005 #10
    I have spent a lot of time thinking of how to create some kind of resolve but I keep getting into a story and I don't think that is suppose to be the point of this exercise. I do realize there should be some kind of resolution to the whole creature of the hearth but so far I've come up empty....

    I've tried to do this....let me know if there is some improvement. And don't worry about my feelings....I'm a bit of a masochist when it comes to academics so criticism is best served without the euphemisms.

    I don't know why but wordiness is a hard thing to overcome...I'll work on it.

    Na...like I said, I like my criticism to be truthful, and I will post the revision for sure.
    :smile:
     
  12. Sep 28, 2005 #11
    While I did go through all of your points I will have to go through everything in detail tomorrow as it's getting late....I have made a lot of improvements already so hopefully after carefully going through your list it will be ready to turn in....

    Here is an update of the changes I have made so far but there is still more work to be done....I know it's not perfect or anything and I really need to work on resolution I think I have made some improvements.

    Thanks for the replys everyone.


    Tranquility Exploited​
    The new Student Union’s dining area makes an excellent place for a break. It has a delectable ambiance that saturates one’s senses with the scent of pancakes, eggs, bacon and ‘fresh coffee’. No one would ever guess this cozy place could be the home of a mysterious and disturbing secret veiled by subtlety pleasing aesthetics.
    The comfortable seats help to ease one’s tense mind. Letting one’s mind drift a person may start to notice sounds and noises they might not have otherwise heard. A couple of guys talk about an engineering problem. Someone flips the page of a book and slides a plate across the table. On the other side of the room, some young women giggle loudly. From somewhere comes the sound “da beep bump, da bump” from someone’s cell phone, followed by a hastily opened zipper and a cheerful hello. The cloth and pleather seats are still warm from the last occupant. Warm Earth tone colors whet the appetite. Olive drab, sapphire, and kaki vertical strips on the cloth seatbacks and smooth blue texture on the pleather seats come together in a sublet almost unnoticed way. The only contrast to the smooth blend of pigments and the warm feel of the seats comes from the crimson brick wall, which serve as a reminder of where one is.
    In a place with such tranquil characteristics, one can hardly carry any burden at all, until one notices the fearsome fireplace in the middle of the back wall. The evil looking hearth just sits there like the womb of Satan, waiting to give birth to fire. Lightly stained oak wood trim boarders the hearth and in the front are large glass doors that give off an eerie reflection like a wandering ghost. At first, the hearth manages to go completely unnoticed by the casual observer. When someone does finally make out the creepy cavern from everything else, they are confronted by the queer contrast of school bricks and cold murky emptiness. Perhaps last place you might expect to find fairy tale monsters like Gollum or Grendel would be the Student Union, but gazing into the icy black depths of the hearth quickly dispels such foolish notions. A person wonders if students will start disappearing or if there will not be strange sightings of creatures lurking around campus.
    All the people sitting around relaxing, chatting, eating, and studying seem to be unaware of their surroundings or the gapping maw of the fireplace. It is as if it or its secrets do not even exist. ​
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2005
  13. Sep 28, 2005 #12

    honestrosewater

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    Just some quick options to consider, if you're still interested.

    Tranquility Exploited​
    Nice improvement.

    The new Student Union’s dining area makes an excellent place for a break. It has a delectable ambiance that saturates one’s senses with the scent of pancakes, eggs, bacon and ‘fresh coffee’. No one would ever guess this cozy place could be the home of a mysterious and disturbing secret veiled by subtlety pleasing aesthetics.
    You seem to like adding lots of structure to your sentences, which tends to slow and weaken them. That's fine if it's the effect you want, but if you want it to be more energetic, removing the extra parts would help. For instance, changing
    "It has a delectable ambiance that saturates..."
    to
    "Its delectable ambiance saturates..."
    Using linking (is, are, was, seems, feels) and auxilliary (will, shall, may, might, can, could, must, would) verbs tend to slow the pace too, so try to be aware of them. (This page shows you how to spot a linking verb.) The same structures get tiresome after a while too. "That does this. This is something. These feel some way. It is boring." And when you do use linking verbs (or quasi-linking verbs), you can still be creative:
    "The new Student Union’s dining area makes an excellent place for a break."
    "The new Student Union’s dining area serves up an excellent place for a break." (Eh, I meant that to be corny, really.)

    I don't understand the quotes on "fresh coffee"? I like "fresh coffee" at the front of the list too - it's the strongest (for me) and gets me in the smelling mood: fresh coffee, pancakes, eggs, and bacon. (And this lets "fresh" apply to the other aromas as well.)

    Using "one" makes this even less lively for me; It sounds stuffy and distracting in this context. If you don't want to use "you/your", try determiners: a, the, that, this, these, those, some. So
    "saturates one’s senses"
    could become
    "saturates the senses"
    Or why not
    "saturates my senses"

    "subtlety" is a noun (which isn't correct here); the adverb form is "subtly". If you like "subtlety", you could use something like "...the subtlety of the..." or better, "...aesthetics' subtlety".


    The comfortable seats help to ease one’s tense mind. Letting one’s mind drift a person may start to notice sounds and noises they might not have otherwise heard. A couple of guys talk about an engineering problem. Someone flips the page of a book and slides a plate across the table. On the other side of the room, some young women giggle loudly. From somewhere comes the sound “da beep bump, da bump” from someone’s cell phone, followed by a hastily opened zipper and a cheerful hello.
    Here are more strings of words that don't do much: "help to", "a person may start to", "A couple of" (two?), "they might not have", "On the other side of".
    Sounds and noises - they are the same thing, no? And you can put the focus on the sounds by leaving out some people and making the sounds the subjects. A quick edit:

    The comfortable seats ease your tense mind. As you sink in, your thoughts settle, and a school of noises swim to the surface. Two guys hammer out an engineering problem. A page flips. A plate slides across the table. Loud girls giggle. A cell phone rings, zip, “Hello.”


    The cloth and pleather seats are still warm from the last occupant. Warm Earth tone colors whet the appetite. Olive drab, sapphire, and kaki vertical strips on the cloth seatbacks and smooth blue texture on the pleather seats come together in a sublet almost unnoticed way. The only contrast to the smooth blend of pigments and the warm feel of the seats comes from the crimson brick wall, which serve as a reminder of where one is.
    "cloth and pleather seats" - much better.
    You have warm seats and warm colors. Maybe the seat is toasty, I dunno - thesaurus time.
    Olive drab and khaki are closest in color - and sapphire is closest to blue, they work better for me grouped that way. Olive drab, khaki, and sapphire... blue (remind you of the beach?).
    There's "warm" again. Look up "warm" in a thesaurus.
    http://www.m-w.com/
    http://www.bartleby.com/thesauri/
    http://www.rhymezone.com/?loc=bar
    Okay, I have stuff piling up. I guess that's enough for now. Happy writing. :biggrin:
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2005
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