Rules for Good Writing

Avoid sentence fragments by checking to make certain that every "sentence" has both a subject and a verb and does not begin with a preposition or subordinating conjunction. If you do find fragments, try to attach them either to the preceding or the following sentence. If you can't, rewrite the sentence.

Bad writing example:

  • Though in more present day films he has had different roles, he notices that as more time goes by, the more open-minded we get. Which gives him hope for the future.

Avoid run-on sentences -- sentences which have two sets of subjects and verbs and are only separated by a comma. If you do have a run-on, add a semi-colon [;] or a period and a capital [. P] or a conjunction in between the clauses.

Bad writing examples:

  • Ziyi Zhang and Michelle Yeoh tried to express Japanese traditional beauty, and they did well in the movie, however I felt they still left many things to be desired.
  • It is a selling point for the shows, if nothing else draws attention to the show, the sex will because sex sells in this industry.
  • Another example would be America’s Next Top Model the women of color are always loud, annoying, and disliked.
  • I feel that competition is also a way of negative reinforcement, it helps you to tell yourself that you cannot fall behind or you will be the “loser” and the thought of not wanting to come in bottom makes you work harder.
  • Reality TV is the norm now, every channel has any number of unscripted shows which I can assure you are all original.

Underline or italicize titles of films, books, CD’s, plays, or television series.

Bad writing examples:

  • Filmmakers who support this theory, such as Spike Lee, cite films such as Bruce Almighty and The Green Mile.
  • He was just a bad ass cop in “Snakes on a Plane.” In “Pulp Fiction” he was an assassin.
  • MTV’s show The Real World is a great example of these elements joining together.
  • This is the chorus to Mistah’s song “Ghost Ride It,” a song that samples the instrumental from the unforgettable theme song of the 1984 classic movie Ghostbusters and laces it over a new bass line.

Make your subject and verb agree with each other.

Bad writing examples:

  • There is now actors from Japan, Mexico, China, Middle East, and the list goes on and on.
    He states that “mash-ups . . . consisting of a vocal track from one song digitally superimposed on the instrumental track of another” is the more popular way to bootleg.
    There is also The Justice League, The Batman, and Xiolin Showdown, all cartoons which have a good message, but use violence to attract attention.
  • In essence, mixes tease the listener with many different signature sounds from songs which in turn does not make the song sound worse.

Never use “which” for people. Try not to use “that” either. Use “who” or “whom” instead.

  • I heard that there are internet cops that go on the internet and search for these people nowadays.
  • They not only showed that none of the other girls liked her, but that she was a horrible, back-stabbing, rude contestant that had no friends and was constantly complaining about everything.
  • When was the last time you saw a girl on Blind Date or Laguna Beach that was less than attractive?
  • I don’t agree that all women that go on reality TV are one of the stereotypes she mentions.

Capitalize all the words in a title except for prepositions and conjunctions, even though the Mercury News and other newspapers use a style which omits capitals.

Bad writing examples:

  • Racism can be subtle in movies like One flew over the cuckoo’s nest and The lord of the rings.
  • It’s not always about the money

Capitalize names of ethnic or cultural groups and their languages

Bad writing examples:

  • A british electrician
  • another european invention
  • on american culture

When using a pronoun, make sure that it is the same number (plural or not plural) and gender as the noun it replaces

Bad writing example:

  • Reality TV implies that if a woman is not hot, then they are not worth anything and they will not get a husband.
  • She goes on to explain that no matter who the celebrity is, their profile follows the same pattern.
  • I agree with the author that strict copyright laws may contribute to the problem of our remixed culture because it does not allow for new artists to break through.

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